Conquering the Long Run

No matter what race you are training for, the weekend brings around the ominous "long run" for most runners.

Whether I'm setting out for a 20-miler or a 10-miler, long runs create an anxious knot in my stomach. I really don't understand why that happens because I run simply for the fun of it (and partly for the love for competition). The long run causes me to doubt my training and my ability to run that far.

I started training for my first marathon in 2010 and since then I have had many mishaps on the long run. Not enough water, inadequate fuel during the run, GI issues and, worst of all, the times when I just plain decided to skip a long run because I didn't think I could do it.

Over the past four years, I like to think I have learned a few long run lessons. At least I hope so!

Tips for Conquering the Long Run

Here are a few tips that have helped me to prepare for a successful long run.

1. Prepare the night before. I charge up the electronics and I usually download a podcast from My Faith Radio to listen to while running.

In the morning, I leave my water bottle and whatever "fuel" (a.k.a. fruit snacks in the picture below) I have on the porch. I usually do one big loop and stop home quick for a drink and to grab a snack. Then I head off again and eat on the run.

2. Find (or bake) your long run fuel. Fruit snacks do work as a "fuel" for long runs but I prefer something that packs just a few more calories and tastes better. I made a batch of long run energy bars for this weekend's run:

To make your own long run energy bars, all you need is 2 bananas, 1 1/2 c. rolled oats, 3/4 c. peanut butter, 1/4 c. honey, 3/4 c. craisins (or dates, other dried fruits, etc.), 3/4 c. flour, 1/4 t. baking powder and just a dash of cinnamon and vanilla. Mix and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Cut into squares after they have cooled. I wrapped mine individually and placed them in the freezer until long run morning.

Homemade Long Run Energy Bars

3. Eat a safe breakfast. By "safe" I mean eat something that you know will sit well in your stomach. The last thing you need is GI issues when you are miles from home!

Cream o' wheat with raspberries for me!

4. Run for time. Running for "x" amount of miles can be intimidating so often I "run for time" instead of mileage. When I start wiping out, I tell myself "only xx minutes to go". Maybe it's just me, but it definitely helps! This strategy is especially useful for winter running or trail running when the terrain is more technical.

5. Think you can. Because if you keep telling yourself you can't finish the run, you probably won't. If you want to get pumped before the run, read "The Little Engine that Could" with a toddler. E loves this book!

The Little Engine made it because "she thought she could, she thought she could"!

6. After the run. To cool down after all those miles, it's best to do a ton of squats with a toddler on your back.

Just kidding. You should probably stretch, shower, and find some food. This is one of our new favorite games: back squats with baby.

Baby back squats count as cross training

Book Review: Every Body Matters

I finished the book Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas last month and am finally getting around to a review. I decided to read this book because Ryan Hall mentioned it in his book, Running with Joy. I really enjoyed Ryan's book so I thought I would give this one a read.

Every Body Matters presents the idea that physical fitness and discipline can have a positive impact on your spiritual and emotional growth. Thomas encourages the reader to view their body as an instrument for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

By understanding that our bodies are instruments of service to God, we can find renewed motivation to take better care of ourselves and to be good steward of the body that God has blessed you with. This point resonated with me because it challenges us to question our motives for exercise. Do you exercise to properly steward your body or to get the attention of other people? Is your body an instrument for God or an ornament for the world?

Another point that really stuck with me was from 1 Timothy 4:8. This verse does emphasize that spiritual fitness is our most important pursuit and that it is more important than physical training. But, it does not state that physical training is of no value and that it has no impact on our godliness and spiritual fitness.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 TIMOTHY 4:8
As faithful believers, we cannot ignore our physical bodies. Thomas shared a quote from Dr. Ed Young that brings both spiritual and physical aspects together:
"We cannot have total heart health if we focus only on the biological heart and ignore the spiritual. But true spirituality means accepting the stewardship of the physical heart God has given us as well."
(Source: 365 Days of Total Heart Health: Transform Your Physical and Spiritual Life)
Overall, this book was an interesting read and it did make some excellent points about the connection between spiritual and physical fitness. On a five-star scale, I would give Every Body Matters three stars. The book covers topics that I am very interested in - spiritual and physical fitness - and I do agree that the two are interrelated though I wasn't crazy about the book as a whole.

Do you have any long run advice to share?
Have you read any good books lately?

Linking up on Pin It Thursday and Fitness Friday.


  1. Your long run energy bars sound delicious and the books you mentioned sound like books I'd like to read, too. I recently read The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition by Matt Fitzgerald. I found a lot of good running tips in it.

    1. "Running with Joy" by Ryan Hall is my favorite running-related books so far! I do want to check out that New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition book - sounds like a great read!

  2. #5 is so important! I'm reading Mind Gym and it has helped me with the mental side of running immensely.

    1. Yes, having a positive mindset is so important yet it's the one I struggle with the most!

  3. Great tips! One of the best things I started doing last year was making my own on the run fuel including energy bars. Zero tummy trouble no matter how long the run! FTW!

    1. Do you have the recipe on your blog, Jill? I'm always looking for new recipes to try!


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