The long slow run; the Sunday long run; the oh-my-god-why-did-I-sign-up-for-a-marathon run – whatever you call it the long run is the most important part of marathon training. And I am not a fan. Give me a run-so-fast-you-puke 5k or track session any day – no guts, no glory and all that. But marathon training I am, so run them I must.
Here are my tips for survival:
Wear as many layers as you think you’ll need. Now take one off. You’ll get too hot.
Pretend that you’re going out for a 5k run. If you’re anything like me and think about the fact that you’re actually going out for 5 x 5k runs, you won’t get out the front door.
Don’t be cocky and run too fast. These runs are all about building endurance and time on your feet. Yes it feels comfortable, yes you can run faster – but don’t. Enjoy the fact that your lungs aren’t burning and you can chat to the animals as you run past.
Bribe somebody to run/cycle/drive alongside you and throw sweets in your mouth as you run. Having someone to chat to helps.
Get lost in an audiobook. Stephen Fry is ace in the Harry Potter audio books – he does the voices and everything.
Don’t focus on how far you have left to run – break it down into manageable chunks. For me, this is 5k. Just focus on getting to the end of that before you think about a single step more.
Count your steps. If it’s good enough for Paula Radcliffe, it’s good enough for you.
When you really really really want to stop – don’t. Remember why you’re doing this. I picture myself crossing the finish line at London in under 4 hours, and the thought of that is more than enough motivation to keep going.
If it’s raining, wear a waterproof jacket. Make sure said jacket is actually waterproof. Be prepared to pay money to ensure suitable watertightness.
When your legs get tired, remember – that’s the whole point. A big part of marathon training is getting used to running on tired legs. These runs will serve you well come mile 20 of the big day.
Every time you want to stop and don’t, you’re giving yourself strength to draw from on marathon day. You’ll remember those moments you ploughed on through when your body was screaming at you to stop, and you’ll keep going.
If you feel like crying, cry. There’s no shame in finding it tough. It is really bloody tough. Stop. Have a breather. Re-fuel. Collect yourself. Carry on.
High-five yourself when you’ve finished. You’ve earned it. You’re a legend.
Now eat all the food. Stretch all the stretches. Foam roll everything you can bear to.
You’ve got this.