During my long run last week – one of the best times to clear my head – I got to thinking… what gets me through these 19- and 21-milers? What makes the 00:00:00 on my Garmin ok when there’s three hours of pavement pounding ahead? What will get me through my 2.5-hour run on Saturday, the last long run before race day?
This is what…
Find and repeat mantra
Mantras are powerful. They focus you and help keep you calm. My two favorites lately: One foot in front of the other; and, it always seems impossible until it is done (thank you, Nelson Mandela). Both have powered me through my recent long runs and helped me find a steady rhythm, when I certainly could have faded.
Once negative self-talk sneaks in, it can be tough to dig yourself out. So, always, always keep your head up, and stay positive. Even if you’re having a bad run, find one thing – and, it can be small, like counting your steps to the next intersection or how beautiful the bike scenery is – you can be happy about. Once you find one thing, it snowballs, and another one comes along; before you know it, the negative thoughts have disappeared, and you’re done.
Choose a route and switch ’em up
If you’re running long, map out a route before you head out the door so you know what to expect. New routes also work wonders for passing the time. My current favorite: an out-and-back on Minnehaha to Harriet and Calhoun. Running along the creek almost feels like I’m far away from Minneapolis; it’s beautiful.
Because there’s almost nothing more annoying than a pair of shorts you constantly have to adjust or socks that give you blisters. The wrong clothing choice has wrecked runs for me; case in point, last week… I wore a tank I don’t normally wear for running, and it chaffed around my armpits the entire time. It was all I thought about for five miles, and it drove me crazy. Lesson learned. Stick with a cool racerback.
Fuel + hydrate properly
This includes not just during your run or bike, but before and after. Figure out what works for you, not what what works for your running buddy. I’ve learned I can’t have fresh pressed juice or sweet potatoes the day prior to a long run; my GI system won’t tolerate either, so I stick with lean protein, coconut rice, and broccoli or zucchini. While running, I prefer Skratch Labs and Honey Stinger chews (chocolate outrage GUs aren’t bad, either). After, I usually have a recovery shake (Vega Sport chocolate performance protein or Ultragen) as soon as I walk in the door. I recently started taking Osmo Nutrition preload hydration before really long sessions, and it’s worked wonders.
Long runs aside, these tactics work just as well for those short runs (because sometimes those are the hardest ones) and for cycling. It’s just as important to engage in positive self-talk, wear comfortable sport-appropriate clothing and to fuel + hydrate properly during those as it is on long training runs.
Happy swimbikerunning, friends!