The Longest I Can Run Alone

Hello! How’s it going?

Over here it’s going hot and sweaty, but good. Except for a small malfunction with my sunglasses… this is why I can’t have nice things!

this is why i can't have nice things (450x800) (450x800)

Saturday involved a family meeting with nachos. That’s how we do.

nacho cheese (800x600)

I had to push my long run this week to Sunday for various reasons. It kinda threw me off schedule mentally, but I rolled with it.

So, I started the day with banana, toast and iced coffee.

runeatrepeat cutting board (800x600)

Last year I stopped training for races since I was racing so much – I didn’t need to do long runs in addition to races AND I needed to recover / rest in between races. I basically use races as training runs and just like in distance training sometimes they’re good, sometimes they suck.

But, I have a marathon coming up in September and racing season is slow during the summer. So, I knew I should at least do one 20 miler before my next race.

long run shoes (800x600)

I am a strange bird unique tiger in that I can run 15 miles no problem. But, anything over 16 and I just don’t wanna. I get bored. I get tired. I get sick of my own thoughts and just being in my head. So, I would rather do 15 back to back over 20 miles in one day.

it was boring

And that’s what I usually do – I don’t run more than that unless it’s a race anymore! This isn’t an ideal plan for every runner, but this is my hobby and what I prefer so that’s what I do. (Do you. Find a good training plan for your body.) I want to enjoy running and that’s a good balance for me Smile

The moral of the story: Running 20 miles alone in the summer isn’t the most fun ever. But, I did it. The end.

20 mile run time (600x800)

I thought the marathon runners out there would be interested to know: I have never run more than 20 miles besides during a race. I don’t run those super long 22+ mile runs during marathon training. For my first marathon I think I maxed out at 18 or 19 miles. Maybe my second too. I can’t remember.

what i ate during run (600x800)

Check out all the bugs that hitched a ride on my legs. This is disgusting.

gross bugs and sweat during long run (600x800)

Q: What do you eat after a 20 mile marathon training run?

A: Anything I want.

eating and relaxin

After my run I ate that watermelon Chobani and then headed to WF for food. I was craving a Suja big time!

i want a suja juice (600x800) whole foods feast (800x600)

Also – running 18 miles or more just makes me crazy hungry. Oddly, running 15 or less and my body is normal hungry (which is probably crazy hungry to the average person). So, I tried to keep it balanced but was randomly snacky too.

apple and sparkles (600x800)

Question: Do you get bored during long workouts or time alone?

It’s weird because I like being alone, but after 2.5 hours of running solo I’m just sick of my head movies.


  1. Runningwithscissors says

    I am totally with you on getting bored. 16 miles was my longest training run before my last full and it will be again for my full on October 19 . I honestly don’t get tired just plain BORED!!!!

  2. says

    Running alone doesn’t bother me that much. The longest I’ve run solo was 15, and I think that’s about how long I could run solo. I did 18 this weekend and had a friend ride her bike with me for 9 of them. It was great to have company, and I couldn’t have done it without her. She carried my water bottle and refilled it when necessary (which it was, often; I drank 3x24oz of water and probably should have had another but she left me on my own for the final 2 and I was out (because I’d chugged the one she’d just refilled). I can carry enough food, but I certainly can’t carry enough water when it’s 90* and humid. Oh, I can’t wait for a race where there are aid stations (and port-a-potties) every mile!

    It really does make the time go faster!

  3. says

    I can handle the 13-15 milers alone but when I have to run anything longer than that I really long for a running buddy. The 20 milers are the toughest ones to do alone. The malfunction of the sunglasses picture is too funny! Are you running Ventura in September?

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing how youusually just run 20! That’s always interesting to me. I completely agree about having a “mental cap” I don’t think I’ve ever run more than 12 or 13 alone except for race days. I think for me a lot of that has to do with what route I choose and honestly just where I’m mentally at that day. But I also haven’t tried to do a long run alone in awhile. This upcoming training season I’m sure I’ll have a chance.

    PS you are using my FAVORITE almond butter in your toast picture. TJ’s does it again!

  5. says

    I have yet to feel the desire to run a marathon (I stick to halfs) but in some ways, I am the same as you – I can run 13 every weekend no problem, once in a while, 14 but try to go further than that? Totally bored and done. I would sooner run back to back long runs than keep going. I keep meaning to run 15 but always seem to conclude between 13 and 14. I give you credit for running the 20!

  6. says

    Good post! I had to do a double take when I saw 20 on your garmin. Anything after 13 and I abuse the post carb load. And when I say abuse I’m talking about 2 pizza slices and one polish dog combo from Costco. And when I say 2 slices, it really means 4 because costco normally doesn’t do things normal.

  7. says

    Great job on your 20! I just did 7 for the first time this past weekend and it was in a new location so that kept me entertained. I keep comedy & podcasts on my ipod just in case I do get bored. Now maybe when I’m pulling your kinda milage that may change. I do get super bored now when I have to run on a treadmill – so there’s that.

  8. says

    This may sound crazy but I absolutely love my long runs because I get away from my crazy 2 year old toddler for a while. It’s the only me time I get since I quit my job in April. 😉

  9. Angela says

    Being a mom of three hooligan boys, I LOVE the alone time – the longer, the better. It’s about the only time where I can just be. My longest training run has been about 3 hours 20 minutes and honestly…it was pretty awesome, I didn’t find myself getting bored at all. Now, tired on the other hand…hahaha. I want to enter the ultra realm so I kind of have to like running for hours on end alone because face it….not many of my friends think it’s sane to have training runs that last longer than 2 hours.

  10. Rob Runs says

    I’m good up to 10 alone for sure, (that’s 2 hours for me) then I start getting cranky. I can only train for marathons with a running group, I tried once and there’s no way I can handle a summer full of solo double-digit runs without going absolutely bonkers. I’m just not that interesting or entertaining to spend that much time with myself!

  11. Bobbie says

    I loved reading that you make “head movies!” I’m always referring to the movies that I make in my head and everyone thinks I am nuts. But….I really do make movies…

  12. Abby says

    How do you feel on race day when you run a full marathon when you only trained for 20 miles? How are you able to complete the last 6 miles of the marathon and how do you feel after the race?

  13. says

    It’s great to hear your perspective. I am training for my first marathon. I am planning a 22 miler but its so good to see others race without ever training that long. It’s just so long and boring! But I’m also terrified of not training enough and crashing on the race day.

  14. Eugenia Byrne says

    You sound EXACTLY like me…I LOVE running 13-15 miles, and then, I’m like “OK,,,I’m done.” I could literally run that distance every single day no problem. I’m like you in that I LOVE running and want to enjoy it. Although I make a lot of training errors-too many long runs, not enough speed work, not enough running rest days, etc…it is how I do it, and what works for me. I don’t care about being the fastest runner by any means, I just want to run how I run. The end.

    • Angela says

      This sounds exactly like me! I really do not do running workouts. I just run. When I want to run and how I want to run. That’s the only way that I find it enjoyable. If I want to push faster, then I push faster but I am not going to spend a day at the track running 800 sprints anytime soon. For me, running trails has made me a better, faster, stronger runner and been way more enjoyable than the workouts prescribed all the time. I am not going to be an elite runner anytime soon so why not just have fun?

  15. says

    Funny I like to do up to 16 alone. Probably because I have a route that is 4 mile loop do I know it’s 4 loops. Never did 20 alone. Either I ran an organized training run with friends or I ran 7 miles before the start of a half Mary that i had signed up for.

    I love bacon and eggs post long run. Or salty potato chips and avocado with a big hero sandwich. :)

  16. Steph F. says

    I listen to podcasts on my long runs, and for some reason I never really get bored, even on my 20 milers. Oddly enough, it’s the mid-week runs that kill me…I just don’t get that excited about them anymore and never really get into my zone when I run less than 10 miles or so. I do all my long runs alone and like it that way (getting up at the crack of dawn also allows me to get home and spend the morning with my family) but I’m considering joining a running group for those mid-week runs!

  17. says

    Getting bored on long runs is the toughest thing for me with marathon training! I don’t like to run with music because I feel safer being able to hear everything around me, but I think for my fall marathon I might try listening to podcasts with one earbud in so I don’t totally hate my long runs. I do Endurox immediately after my long runs, but I definitely indulge, especially if I’m doing anything 12 miles or over, while still trying to get all the nutrients I need from healthy foods. Indulging after long runs is why one becomes a distance runner, right? 😉

  18. says

    In the past, I’ve listened to books on tape to keep myself from going nuts on a race. It’s worked for the most part. And usually, at that point during a marathon, I’m so miserable I can’t even start to think about being bored!

    One difference from you though, I don’t find myself getting really hungry after those long runs. In fact, I think my body is sending all the blood to different extremities that I find myself not really wanting to eat for a long time after a long run!

  19. says

    I am training for the Chicago Marathon (2014) – my 3rd – and I am hoping I will be able to complete the longer runs without getting bored … let’s see :)
    harsh :)

  20. says

    Monica thank for telling this because I am trying to prepare for my first and I think all I can take by my self is 20miles..If you have a example of a plan please list…I am trying to this I last painful as possible!!:)……

  21. says

    Unfortunately I’ve done most of my high mileage training alone and to be honest, I hate it. I don’t run as fast as you so the time it takes me to do a 20 miler is more like 3 hours and I just get tired of being out there by myself. It sucks. It is definitely better in a race situation but like you said, summer = hot = NO MARATHONS = I DIE!

    Luckily my husband is running his first marathon in December so I can at least run some longer runs with him.

    I am CRAZY hungry after a 20 miler. It like I can’t catch up and I feel like I’m eating all the time. I try to keep it balanced though. I could probably eat the entire WF bar after a long sweaty run.

  22. says

    I never figure out my maps ahead of time so my long runs are a little more interesting because I’m constantly lost/trying to figure out where I am :)

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