Mental Tricks for Tackling Your Long Run

Hello, hello!

I just got back from a glorious 11-mile run. Ok, “glorious” probably isn’t the best word to describe it””running is hard and not as easy as I remember it, and it’s been really tough for me to get back into it””but this morning’s run was one of the more enjoyable ones I’ve had during my half marathon training.

[rewind to earlier to this morning]

Breakfast

I knew a long run was on my agenda for this morning, so I whipped up a breakfast with lots of healthy carbs to give me some energy for it: plantain pancakes with melt-y almond butter (spread between pancakes) and maple syrup. Yum!

plantain pancakes

Plantain Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe plantains
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pour batter onto a pan/griddle and use the backside of a spoon to shape it into a pancake.
  3. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes and then flip. Cook on the other side for about 1 minute.
  4. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Makes 14-16 pancakes

I actually made a big batch of these pancakes, so I can just reheat them in the microwave and eat them all week long for breakfast. Done and done.

* Gluten-free all-purpose flour is kind of gross. For some reason, I expected it to taste like regular all-purpose flour minus the gluten, but it doesn’t. It has this weird metallic taste that isn’t horrible, but I don’t love it either. This recipe calls for such a small amount of it, you could probably substitute a better-tasting flour, which I will definitely do the next time I make these pancakes.

Workout

After breakfast, I took Murphy on his morning walk and bumped into one of my neighbors, who was also out walking his dog. He noticed that I was wearing running gear, so we started talking about my long run. He suggested that I check out Southfield, a nearby community that apparently has miles and miles of paved sidewalks and would be perfect for my long run. Great idea!

11 miles

I took my neighbor’s advice and did the majority of my run at Southfield this morning. I really loved the change of scenery!

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I also loved the miles and miles of paved sidewalks! Perfect.

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plane at southfield

I ended up taking a water bottle on my run today, which wasn’t as annoying as I thought it would be. I pretty much forgot about it until I was thirsty and then I was thankful to have it.

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I really enjoyed running at Southfield, and I will definitely do some more long runs there!

southfield running paths

Speaking of long runs”¦

Health News & Views

Right now, I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon. My race is just a few weeks away, and while I feel like I am mostly ready for race day, I have to admit, my training hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine.

Sticking to my training plan has actually been somewhat difficult for me. The shorter runs are typically not a problem, but I seriously struggle with the long runs. Physically, they are exhausting, but the mental aspect is what is most challenging for me. The higher mileage is sometimes so overwhelming, I want to quit right in the middle of my run. After running for miles and miles, I often have trouble harnessing the mental motivation needed to get me through the toughest parts.

Instead of bailing on my long run all together, I came up with some mental tricks to help get me through my long runs. Hopefully, they will help you, too!

5 Mental Tricks for Tackling Your Long Run

mental_tricks_to_get_through_your_long_run

Questions of the Day

What are your mental tricks for tackling long runs?

What’s the hardest part about long runs?

67 Comments

  1. My mental trick is to break the run up into smaller parts. Just make it to the park. Just another 15 minutes. etc. etc. If I focus on the whole run at one time I feel overwhelmed and defeated before I even start.

  2. I break long runs into smaller parts as well. My runs are generally several of my normal routes linked together. I look at each loop rather than ticking off the miles. It is much easier for me to think about making it to the next landmark or whatever rather than looking at how many miles I have done and have left.

  3. I try to break the run up in my mind…like – at mile 2 I’ll listen to a podcast, at mile 7 I’ll take a water break…etc. It helps me to think of it as a bunch of shorter segments!

  4. It’s been a long time since I’ve had non-GF flour, but I don’t believe that all GF flours taste bad (though some definitely do!). I’ve had a lot of luck baking with Better Batter, and my friends tell me they hardly believe my baked goods are GF because they taste so normal. The trick is finding a good GF AP flour mix that tastes good to you and you can trust to substitute well.

  5. Well done on the 11 miles clocked! 🙂 You should try either wholegrain buckwheat or quinoa flour for good gluten free options! Gram is great too but it has quite a distinct flavour.

  6. I like taking my long runs through new neighborhoods. It gives me more to look at and helps pass the time. I usually make sure I finish my long runs near the starbucks too 🙂

  7. My biggest mental trick for tackling long runs is visualization, as cheesy as that sounds. Generally when I’m doing a long run, I’m training for something. I envision myself in the race and how glorious it will feel to cross that finish line.

    If I’m having a rough day, I’ll make it a 2 mile check-in run. In other words, I’ll tell my mind to get past the next 2 miles, take a drink of a water and re-evaluate. It almost always helps me to get through the entire run.

    When all else fails, I think of a reward for afterwards, which can be as simple as a nice warm bath (yes I know technically it should be an ice bath) or as fun as a day at the winery!

    For me, boredom is never an issue, so it’s just really lacing up those sneakers and believing I have the goods to complete the run for the day!

  8. For me, its all about getting out the door as quick as possible. If I hang out in the morning before my long run then the run just becomes more and more daunting. Once I’m actually running I use all sorts of tricks. Sometimes I distract myself and think about something else or I’ll think about the race I’m training for as extra motivation. Lately, I’ve been breaking my run into section based on effort. Yesterday, I did 2 easy, 8 moderate, 2 easy. It helps me stay in the mile.

  9. For long runs I really like changing up my scenery and making “short” goals for myself. I’ll tell myself to just make it another mile and then when I get there, I have energy and motivation for yet another mile. It’s something that really works for me! I also like to head out right away in the morning if possible. If I put off a run until later in the day, I’ll find any excuse to avoid it!

  10. The hardest part of long runs to me is doing the same course over and over again. I try to find new routes, but I’m more of an out and back girl, so it makes it hard. Once I start I am usually good, though!

  11. That’s the metallic taste that I was talking about before with the bean flours! Now I don’t feel so crazy that you taste it too 🙂 You should try another gluten-free all purpose flour without garbanzo in it (I’m guessing you used Bob’s Red Mill?) I think King Arthur and some others have bean-free gluten-free flour recipes.

  12. When I was training with friends I would break the run up into “trimesters” my sister was pregnant at the time and since she couldn’t really be out training for a half marathon I used that as motivation and a mind game. 2nd trimester guys! Haha it really works!

  13. I really like doing my long runs with a partner. It makes for great company. When that isn’t possible, I love audio books to distract me from focusing only on the run.

  14. I went on an *unplanned* long run yesterday. I normally run 6-7 miles on the treadmill on Mondays to focus on my pace but I was dreading a fast 6-7 mile run all day. I just couldn’t bring myself to going to the Y! I almost decided to ditch my workout altogether but after sitting around in my workout clothes for over an hour going back-and-forth in my head I bargained with myself and said I’d just go head out on a run around my neighborhood- not worrying at all about my pace or my distance. I let myself focus on how “relaxing” the run was… YEP, a run that was relaxing!

    I ended up running 10.33 miles and then my watch died so I just decided to walk home after that since I close.

    I felt so empowered! I can’t believe how easy running was when I just stopped to enjoy it. I feel like I had a breakthrough (and I’ve been running forever!). I actually tried to slow my pace down to a 10:00/mile but wound up pacing myself at 9:33 which really shocked me! (I try to hit my 6-7 mile Mondays at a pace of 8:45 or less).

    I’m glad we both had a good long runs!!

  15. I was wondering what you were going to use those plantains for – you answered my question! I love plantains…think I’ll try this recipe!

  16. Trick is: DMX and Lil’ Wyane hahaha serisouly, bad A music makes me run.
    The hardest part for me is if I start with a bad mind set, I have a reaaaally hard time getting out of it. I have to wake up, eat and stay positive or it is an awful experience.

  17. The hardest part of any run for me is always the first couple of miles. Even if my legs are feeling good, I get anxiety around how MUCH further I have to go for the run. It’s seems to happen every time, but passes anywhere between miles 2-4.

  18. If you’re looking for a good GF AP flour, try Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix. I have used it for years now in all my baked goods and pancakes and have never had a bad result. Plus it’s already got the baking powder and baking soda and stuff in it, so it’s easier!

  19. I always set landmarks and I try to turn my brain off until I hit those points and thats when I check in on how I feel. I also try and remember the last good runs Ive done and I talk to myself like “remember that great run on friday? After 5 miles you felt like you just wanted to keep running forever so today we’re gonna do that run twice!”
    I probably look like a crazy person.

  20. I like to plan my route out on an online pedometer mapping site first and make a note of where each mile marker is. Then as I’m running I’m mentally crossing off the miles as I go round, I found with the long runs I needed to take a sports drink as any more than 6 miles I get too dehydrated and more than 9 miles I need the calorie intake.

    Being in the UK I think I might be a bit easier to find places to run as the only roads that don’t have side walks are the motorways (free ways).

    I always do a loop, so I don’t have to repeat anywhere and on a 10 mile run, half way through I’m 5 miles from home, which is quite an incentive to keep going 🙂

  21. Did you do all 11 miles in Southfield? I live really close by and could use a change of scenery, but haven’t ventured in. Did you map it out, by chance, or just keep an eye on your mileage?

  22. I also picture myself crossing the finish line on race day. I use lyrics from songs on my playlist to keep myself motivated too. I love singing along to a song that pumps me up! I can’t do podcasts for long runs, just doesn’t work for me.

  23. I’m running a full on Sunday and this could not have come at a better time!!! I’m so nervous about the mental aspect…

  24. I cannot believe how much it is looking like fall back east…We are still in the high 80’s here. 🙂 Key to tackling my long runs is making sure I’m properly fueled. Nothing worse than being hungry on a long run. Nice scenery definitely helps too. I like to plan out my long runs the day before, so I can mentally prepare the night before. It somehow makes it more comfortable the next day.

  25. For me it’s not just the long runs that are the hardest. I haven’t even been running for a full year (almost though–it’ll be a year in December!) but even within the last ten months I’ve noticed I’ve gone through different waves and cycles with running. I was pretty stoked when I could crank out a 5k no problem (that was a big accomplishment for me!), and then over the summer I started running with a guy friend of mine who is an amazing athlete. It definitely kept me motivated because I didn’t want to let him down and I wanted to keep up. I notice though that when I just let myself run and enjoy it, I can push myself harder and longer. When I start talking too much inside my own head, I get frustrated and that’s when I slow down and want to quit.

  26. YES! Long runs are 100% mental for me too…I love the idea of breaking it up. Sometimes I stop for water at a gas station or coffee shop just to spice things up a bit, and having a little “mantra” usually helps to. 🙂 I also think of the run in terms of Bodypump or another workout that doesn’t seem as intimidating. I think “ok, if I run for 10 miles that is just like taking a Bodypump class followed by CXWORX…totally doable!”

  27. Such good tips for long runs. I am running the Chicago Marathon next Sunday and being my second marathon I though training would not be nearly as hard. Ha joke was on me. Didn’t realize when I registered that the majority of my trianing would be in the summer heat. I use the breaking up my long runs into several shorter runs all the time! Good luck with your half!!!

  28. That stinks that you had a bad experience with the GF Flour! There are def some duds out there (bobs red mill is everywhere so people new to gf baking tend to think it must be the best but I think its yucky). I’ve tried several (including Pamela’s which isn’t so bad) and the tops for me are better batter (buy online) and my favorite: cup 4 cup. (Pricey but totally worth it). I get it on amazon but you can find it at Williams Sonoma.

    I love almond flour but have to be careful with it. My digestive system goes crazy if I eat too many concentrated nuts (nut butters flours etc all add up it a ton of almonds etc. a little here and there is fine but eating multiples everyday is just a bit much for me.

    As someone else mentioned. I d stay away from bean flours. That’s probably the metallic taste you noticed

  29. Mental tricks totally help me too… Great playlists on my ipod + mental motivation all the way. I repeat mantras and when things get really tough, occassionally sing out loud. My mom, who isn’t a runner, actually suggested it to me when I was training for my first half and tackling double digits runs for the first time, and she was really on to something! Singing out loud (though it’s more a raspy whisper if I use this trick around mile 11 or 12, haha) just sort of relaxes me and I forget that I’m still running for a million miles. 😉

  30. Is Southfield the old Navy Base in Weymouth?

    My mental trick is just positive thoughts and music to distract me. I set out on my log runs with a plan too. Every 3 miles I will walk it out as mock water stop, and then every 4 miles take my energy. Get lost in good music and you are good!
    I also make sure my route is a big loop, so once I am half way, I have no choice but to finish the distance!

  31. Thanks for sharing your tips! I can always use a little help in the motivation department on long runs 🙂 Here are a couple tricks I use constantly:

    1. I always change up my route slightly and think of it in small chunks, like I’m going to take this side street all the way down and back before continuing on this main road. It’s a great way to add in bits of incremental mileage without feeling overwhelmed.

    2. Mentally dedicate each mile to a loved one and flick through happy memories you have with that person throughout that mile. Trust me, this not only makes the mileage tick by way faster, it also will put a gigantic smile on your face!

    Those pancakes look amazing! How long do you wait after breakfast to start your long runs?

  32. My strategy was to run on the same trails each time so I knew exactly how long it would be and could look for familiar landmarks along the way. I also loved using NikePlus because it would announce each mile completed and then my halfway point and then do a countdown of each mile left.

  33. I made this recipe subbing bananas for the plantains and almond flour for the gluten-free all purpose flour, and the pancakes didn’t hold a shape at all. It ended up a scrambled hot mess! They were un-flippable 🙁 I even added some extra almond flour and it still didn’t hold. Any advice?

    1. I’d try plantains and cook them on low heat. Almond flour doesn’t stick together super well, so the GF flour would work better. Good luck! 😄

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