10 Tips to Survive Your Long Run

10 tips for marathon training long run

Hello and Happy Tuesday!

I started my day with a few Yasso 800s. It’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of attempt at speed work and I was so proud of myself I tweeted at Mr. Bart Yasso himself.

And he responded! Ah!!


My ankle is still a little tight so I’m not sure what that mean’s for this weekend’s run. I think it’s partially because I’ve been running so much in my lightweight shoes and my body wasn’t ready.

If you are training for a fall race you should be getting into some high mileage long runs. Long runs are not easy, but they’re especially challenging in the summer.

Today’s Just the Tip is about surviving your long run…

10 Tips to Survive Your Long Run

1. Plan. Plan it into your schedule for a time that works for you and won’t be sabotaged by other events. The morning after your best friend’s birthday party might not be the best idea unless you are gunning for a Hungover PR.

shots shots shots on a cruise

Plan your long run for a day when you will be well rested and have a few hours to devote to the cause.

2. Work with the weather. Check the weather report in the beginning of the week and be flexible. Move your run up a day or two if that would help avoid a snow storm (being from SoCal I don’t really know what these are, but I heard they’re unpleasant) or a heat wave.


3. Take along your favorite mid-run fuel. I know this is probably sad, but I look forward to my Margarita chomps and Mocha gels. I know some people have a hard time finding mid-run fuel they enjoy, but keep looking.

There are tons of types and flavors. You can even eat Gummi Bears and drink juice if that works for you. But it’s important to find something that gives you energy tastes good so you don’t feel tortured to eat.

4. Run somewhere you like. Most of our mid-week runs are around our neighborhood, but that can get boring after several weeks of marathon training. Find a path or park that you like (or want to explore) and run there on your long run days.

summer running must haves positive outlook (800x800)

5. Have your friends meet you for a few miles. Your friends don’t have to be training for the race to run with you. Plan to have them meet you for the last few miles of your long run. This will give you an extra boost to see it through to the end.

6. Plan your post-race reward. After a long run I like to get $30 worth of hot food from Whole Foods and some fro-yo. It’s my special treat.

If you are better than me and don’t like to reward yourself with food then we can’t be friends you can plan a massage, shopping trip or hair trim instead.

fro yo on wednesday (450x800) (3)

7. Make a special long run playlist. “Save” some of your favorite songs for your long run playlist and only use it for that. This way you’ll get a nice surprise when you’re training on those days.

8. Announce it on Facebook (or twitter) so you look like a sucka if you don’t do it.

“I’m about to go run 8 miles! Run run run!!!”

A few hours later…

“Just kidding. I went to Denny’s for 8 pancakes instead.”

marathons and cupcakes

Don’t be that guy.

9. Make post-run plans with your friends for brunch so you have something to look forward to at the end. AND you can’t quit and walk home because you’ll be late for mimosas or marys!

bloody mary with coach steve

10. Have a mantra ready for when it gets tough. Find a power word or phrase that motivates you. Repeat it over and over when you are having a rough run.

just keep swimming

Question: What is your mantra?

What do you tell yourself during a hard run or workout?


  1. says

    Great tips! I especially like looking forward to my post-race treat 😉
    I don’t really have a mantra- my running playlist is really upbeat and helps me out when the going gets tough!
    I do tell myself ‘you can do this’ and ‘think how great you’ll feel when you’re finished’ and ‘you can brag about this later’. :)

  2. says

    I discovered a new mantra last night – it was “I am an endurance athlete.” I’ve never really considered myself an athlete before, and it worked! Made me feel like a real badass and get over a small hill at the end of my run :)

  3. Katie says

    I love to set up LRs with friends, we can catch up with each other about our week. I so look forward to catching up.

    Also, I am currently training for my 14th marathon and I know it is just not a choice to skip it. If I want to be there on marathon morning, I need to train!

    Best of all I know I will allow myself more food that day and I really, really love food!!!

    Happy Running!

  4. Jen W says

    #10 is too funny. I actually sing “Just keep running” to myself to the same tune as Dory’s “Just keep swimming” when I’m about ready to fall over and die. “Just keep running” is actually my motto on my RoadID as well! 😛

  5. says

    great tips. ohhh mantras! Love me some good mantras.
    Lately it’s just “You’ve done this before. You’re fine! Stop the mind games Sally!” And when I PRed at the Little Rock Half earlier this year I was nicer to myself. I remember being so shocked that I was keeping a sub 10 min pace that I started to cry and smile and recite “Wow I’m better than I thought I was. No more holding back!”.

    My friend Roger just told me he went out for a 20 miler and somehow ended up stopping at mile 16 for two sausage mcmuffins and then ran 4 more miles while eating them HAHA!

  6. Adrienne N. says

    I needed this!! Im training for my first half this September and Im going on my first long run on Saturday! I’ve never used GU or anything and Im nervous to use them for the first time. Im thinking Chomps might be my thing!!

    Run Happy

  7. says

    I like #9…must run or will miss milkshake date!

    I always say to myself ‘I’ll just run to the next tree’ and then I challenge myself to the next tree, and the next…and eventually I get home that way! :)

  8. says

    I love having my mind focused on something that I get to do after. I’ve learned that thinking about my post run food just isn’t good for me because then all I do is crave food for the last 5 miles. Lately, I crave frozen lemonades during my runs. I haven’t had one in 10 years at least, but for some reason they’re my crave of the running season.

  9. Colleen says

    Mantra’s: Nothing is going to knock this girl down…and Better, Faster, Stronger….and finally…You GOT this…get outta your head!

  10. Rebecca says

    ‘Just keep swimming’ is exactly the phrase I would repeat in my head during long runs. I knew I couldn’t be the only one!

  11. Jenny says

    I like audiobooks (usually funny ones) during my long runs, and on some weeks that’s the only time I listen to the book, so I’m looking forward to the run so that I can have time with it. I also have my player/phone within easy reach so I can switch to music for a boost every so often if I need it.

  12. says

    I just try to focus on one mile at a time and/or focus on one song at a time. The best mantra I have is “how bad do you want this!?” My goal is to qualify for Boston and I need to put in the work if I want to get there!

  13. says

    My mantra is a bit wordy but I have to repeat to myself “relax your shoulders, relax your pace, but don’t stop”

    Also, I used to do long runs on Sundays but I would always go out on Saturdays and wind up sleeping until 10 and a 11 am run in Los Angeles is soo beyond not fun so now I do Mondays and its much better as long as I make time for it.

  14. says

    I say to myself two things– which may be mantras I guess — “I am Fierce” and “Finishing is Winning” (when I’m not happy with my pace I tell myself that)

  15. says

    I practice choreography in my head during long runs! Or, if I’m in a play rehearsal, I run lines in my head. That really passes the time for me. It’s all about distraction for my long runs – my 10 miler on Sunday ended up flying by just because since I knew it would be at least an hour and a half of running, I didn’t think about when it would end. When I only run 4-6 miles, I’m constantly thinking about time and when the run will end since it’s “so short”, if that makes sense.

  16. says

    I actually do say “Just keep swimming” quite often. It makes me happy. :)
    I’m so conflicted about my 1st 10 mile race this weekend. I’m excited, but I’ve been dealing with some un-diagnosed injuries and have been resting a lot. The most I’ve ever run is 6.5 miles…I was aiming to run at least 7 before the race…but that has to be before work tomorrow morning… Ugh. I hate when my body doesn’t want to do what I tell it!

  17. says

    I definitely like to reward myself after a long run. Usually I take myself out for a nice lunch or eat a specially decadent dessert. It gives me something to look forward to on the run.

    I love long runs because you get a little more freedom with what you eat later. Run to eat!

  18. Caitlin says

    One step at a time – or I’ll say “you’re doing great..think of the (insert food item that I probably shouldn’t eat, but will here) you’ll get to eat later!” haha :)

  19. Ellen says

    Mantras are great! Occupy your mind so doubts can’t get in. Mine is ‘Feel strong, Be strong’. Mind over matter really works. When my body wants to quit, my mind usually can carry me through if I just keep telling myself i’m strong enough.

  20. april says

    awesome tips, especially #9! i always look forward to going out for an omelet and drinking a bloody mary after a half marathon 😉

  21. says

    My mantra during long or difficult runs is “trust your training.” I find that it helps get me through when I’m second guessing myself.

    I also reward myself for my long runs. It is usually in the form of a gyro or chips and guacamole. The group of awesome women I run with joke that I’ve got my post run meals planned by mile 5. Which is not true! I have my meals planned much sooner than that!

  22. says

    I always keep a new playlist for longer runs…it keeps me distracted the whole run then because I keep wondering which song will be next!

  23. Laura says

    Ah, the long run! Luckily for the half I am currently training for, I am running with a group, so all my long runs are with friends (or new friends) When I am alone, I always daydream about the post-run treat. (ice cream is best) I try to just focus on the mile that I’m on, and not think about how many more I have to do. I don’t really have a mantra(maybe I should get one!) but music DEFINITELY helps me.

    Hope your ankle is better. I recently started running in the pure flows, and I am trying to ease into them. But they are so much lighter than my other shoes and I love them so much, it’s hard to do! Hah!

  24. says

    I’m a new reader to your blog and I love your running tips. When I’m losing motivation during my run I keep telling myself “This day is going to rock, this day is going to rock.” And then I rock it. :)

  25. says

    I don’t listen to music at all on my long runs anymore, so I end up letting my mind wander wherever it wants to go…which is quite meditative.

    Oh, and I usually like Honey Stinger gel but in a pinch Swedish Fish are the way to go.

  26. says

    Great tips! My mantra during my first marathon was “figure it out” – I even got it tattooed on my ankle post-race. Looking for a new one for my next marathon.
    Need to find new fuel, too. I got burnt out on GU last time.

  27. says

    The thing that got me through my 12 mile run over the weekend was counting the puddles on the trail I ran. It helped the last hour fly! And if you were wondering, there were 166 puddles.

    Other than that, to get me through a long run, I just keep telling myself how it will improve my fitness as a runner. I can only get better :)

  28. Carmie says

    I like this one “You can do anything for three minutes”. – Alexi Pappas. If I’m still struggling after 3 minutes, I just repeat.

  29. says

    Since I love food and I am like a dog, I think about the food I am going to reward myself with after my long run. In the last (uphill) miles of my most recent half, I kept telling myself, tacos tacos tacos, because I was planning on getting some yummy tacos after the race. lol it worked to motivate me to pick up the pace!

  30. says

    So I’m new to reading your blog and am not training for anything longer than a 5k yet, so some of these don’t really apply (although I’m totally bookmarking this for when I start training for a half marathon in the next year or two!) Buuuut I wanted to join in with my mantras. I find myself saying “you’ve got this”, “you can do it”, and “only [distance] left”. I know there’s nothing clever about those, but I was never really intentional about my mantras, so those just kinda come out when I’m struggling. I LOVE Finding Nemo, though, so I don’t know why that one never occurred to me! I’m totally going to use that now. Thanks! :-) And thanks for posting these awesome tips…I can’t wait to come back here and revisit them when I start working to make my half marathon dream come true.

  31. says

    Great tips! I should’ve read this 2 weeks ago when I planned my long 14 mile run for the day after a bachelorette party that was held at a wine festival…lol. I mean, I knew better, but I thought I was tougher than I really am. lol I died 9 times doing 6 miles and did the 14 the following weekend. 😉

  32. says

    My favorite mantra is “light and easy” which serves two purposes: helps me loosen up (especially my shoulders which are bad from years of piano) and makes me giggle because I inevitably think of “nice and easy”, the hair dye.

  33. says

    I love that a running Mantra is in your top 10. I had to use it today. My hour run was hot, my feet didn’t want to move at 183 let alone 180 cadence and I was by myself running rolling hills. You got to get the #INGClassof2013 Mid Week Accountability Workout in. I got over 7 miles, that’s always a good run. Let’s go cupcake you got 2 days :)

  34. Lori says

    My long run mantra, which I usually need during the last several miles of the run relates to my post-run breakfast reward….”waffles and coffee, waffles and coffee….” much like the “kibbles-n-bits” dog food commercials back in the day. Works every time.

  35. Luna665 says

    great list :) my mantra in my first marathon was “dig deeper”; my mile 23ish, it had become something like “dip digger”; it sounded like something wasn’t right, but, marathon brain was foggy …

  36. says

    I did 10 miles last week on my dreadmill for my long run. It was so hard. My son goes back to school on Monday, and I am taking the day off, so I am doing my 12 mile long run that day.

  37. says

    Awesome tips! I’m currently training for my first half marathon and I’m still in shock when I finish a long run. I look forward to a big breakfast when I’m done and definitely a sweet great, cause damn I burned a lot of calories running, so I can! But will ill have to try a mantra… Those last few miles are just so hard.

  38. RFP scribe says

    Ever since I saw the photo of a man’s T shirt on Runner’s World website, I have been using it as a mantra. It said “Snack pack, yahoo! Yahoo! Yahooooo!”
    Man, wish I could meet him in person so I can thank him for seeing me through some hard runs…

  39. says

    I surely know what pushes me to go out and complete my weekend’s long runs: BRUNCH! My running team and I have this new thing going on during the weekends:run hard, run strong, then go and stuff your mouth with as much food as you can! Ha! I love it <3

  40. says

    I definitely agree with changing up the scenery! I relocated from NM to KS 1.5 months ago, and I was getting soooo tired of the same 4 mile loop around my house. I found a local running group and asked for some long run recommendations. Everyone was so helpful and I had an awesome 16.0 mile run last weekend around a lake, on a trail, by farm animals (lol). It was perfect!

  41. says

    I tell myself “Dig deep, baby”. And then I remind myself that the brain will always try to preserve the body, so I need to make it shut up. Haha!

    During a long run, I usually start fantasizing about what I want to drink. It’s generally something with limes, lately! So I will say “You get to have all the limes you want! Finish and you get all the limes!” I usually make myself laugh because I’m a weirdo.

  42. Bobbie says

    I usually just tell myself, “you can do anything for a mile…half mile…quarter of a mile etc….”

    I also remind myself of how accomplished I’ll feel when I’m done. This is also how I get out of bed in the morning to run. I think of how awesome my day is going to be once my run is checked off my to do list.

  43. Alyssa says

    Love the advice! My mantras aren’t as inspirational as some peoples on here, but it works for me. I just keep reminding myself that the only way to get home (or back to my car) is to run or walk there, and running will get me there (and to food!) faster. So sure, I could stop running, but a 3 mile walk back will take a heck of a lot longer then just finishing the run! Oh, and I dream about what food I’m going to eat as soon as I get back, and that helps too!

  44. says

    Oh hey…sorry I’m a bit late to the party but I just saw this post on the side of your home screen and thought I’d check it out since I just signed up for a half marathon. I have never run much more over 4 miles at a time so that would be considered my long run right now…well, pretty much every run is for me! lol Anyways, I had a hair dresser tell me the best piece of advice about running, ever, and it’s my mantra. You CAN run farther, you just don’t WANT to. Works like a charm!

  45. says

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
    It’s always interesting to read through articles from other authors and use something from their web sites.

  46. says

    Thanks for the great tips! I start training for my very first marathon on Monday…eek! I plan to put many of these tips to use in the coming 18 weeks :)

  47. Beverly says

    When I get to a particularly awful hill during a long run, I tell myself, “This is what getting stronger feels like. it will be easier when you are stronger.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *