Help! I’m scared of my long run!

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Maybe it’s because you haven’t run that far before or just that you’re coming back from a break, but sometimes the weekly long run can loom really large. That’s how I felt last Saturday.
The 27k route I’d chosen was long, hilly and – as I said in my previous post – I am under time constraints in this round of training, so I couldn’t just wait until I felt ready to do it.
Oh, and did I mention I wanted to stick to a particular pace too?

homerCRAZY

Does a long run make you feel like this?

 Homer happy

Well stick around and learn how to feel like this!

It seems like every time I up my distance the fear of not being able to complete it comes back to haunt me.
Knowing that I’ve been through it all before never seems to help. I decided I needed more concrete reinforcement, as well as a swift kick in the pants, so I got out my

what to do when you’re feeling like a Pathetic Loser but need to feel Badass pronto List

1. Tell your running friends you’re feeling wobbly. Even if they just say ‘me too!’ it helps to talk about it.

2. Shamelessly ask for support on Facebook/Twitter etc.
Quite apart from all the fantastic advice you’ll get, there is guaranteed to be at least one lazy couch potato who will say ‘go back to bed’ or ‘eat pancakes instead’ and this should angry up your blood in a way far more likely to get you out the door than the most motivational speech in the world. Or is that just my own peculiar brand of contrariness?

FB encouragement

 There were more, but you get the gist. Begging for help on Facebook works I tell ya!

3. Don’t drink the night before to help with your ‘nerves’.
It will not help. Trust me, I’ve tried. Repeatedly. I know, I’m an idiot.

4. Concentrate on your fear so you can remember how wrong you were next time (hopefully) and tell yourself to stop being so ridiculous.
What are you scared of? For me it was that this weeks run would be as awful and painful as last weeks run.  And I had to go 10k further this time. I just couldn’t see how it was possible.

5. Make it more difficult to give up than to finish.
For example, I did an out and back loop to ensure I couldn’t pop back home and ‘forget’ about the last half of the run. I know that cutting a long run short will make me feel worse than useless. It reinforces the failure anxieties I already have and anything is better than that. Even walking the entire thing and stopping for lunch in the middle. Actually, that sounds quite nice, perhaps next long run.
Another tip: if it’s safe to do so, leave your phone at home, or don’t take any money with you, then the only way you can get back is through your own leg power.

6. Do a quick health check.
No sniffles? Heart rate ok? No niggles? Well then shut up you little whinger and get out on the trail!!

7. Remember that it is good to be nervous before a hard workout. If you are never anxious about your training it probably isn’t challenging you at all, and what’s the point of that?

I think most runners know that sometimes you have to just accept it will be 3 hours of Not Much Fun so if all else fails, just get it over and done with. Which is what I eventually did and, like the ending of a sit com, everything worked out just fine.

The weather was perfect, 18 degrees and sunny.
I went out super slow in the hope I wouldn’t die, which is always a great long run plan anyway.
I fueled properly, early and often, taking note of how it made me feel and then…about 10k in I found myself thinking ‘hey, this is really nice’. Then again at the halfway mark, ‘wow, nothing hurts, what is this dark magic?’.
This continued, like some miracle, until I returned home, 27k later.
I still can’t quite explain how it happened, but I wasn’t exhausted, sore or broken for the rest of the day.
It was one of the best damn long runs I have ever done.
In fact, considering the hills involved I think I would have to say it was my best damn long run ever.

27k run

 Now all I have to do is remember this next time I need to run even further.
See you in about 8 days, 35k run. Eeek!

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