5 Ways I Survive My Long Runs

Let’s get this out of the way first.

My long runs are a time and distance that others — my marathon and Ironman friends, for example — do on their easy days. But I am still the girl who in 2009 ran right from the road to the video camera to post an emotional “HOLY CRAP I JUST RAN 10 MILES!” post.

{{{WARNING: that is a terrible post other than the video — but if you’re looking for proof that I’ve evolved and improved through the years, there you go.}}}

(#AD) Audrey understands the importance of stretching and cooling down after our longest #beamazing run together. We even did some hills (in Florida, overpasses and causeways are the best we can do). #fitfluential

I define a long run as anything that takes me more than 60 minutes to complete. Some days, that means I run 7 miles. Some, I “ralk” and it’s more like 4 miles.

This weekend, my little running buddy and I made it to the 8-mile mark, which is a post-baby PDR and a stroller PDR. So I had to use some of the tricks and tools that help me power through the hour mark.

1. Use Small Goals

When I go out for a long run, I try not to think about how HUGE my goal is. I break it into a lot of small goals. Run for three miles before taking a break. Run from the corner to the gas station. Run 5:1 intervals. Keep breaks to a 1-minute maximum.

Depending on where I am in my training, I might extend those — instead of running three miles before a break, I run five. Or I keep breaks to :30 max.

I feel great when I hit these mini-goals, and it tends to take my mind off the daunting task ahead.

Eat an Elephant

(I’m a vegetarian and don’t eat any animals, including elephants. But the analogy just worked so well.)

2. Build in Crossroads

I love to do loops instead of out-and-backs, because it lets me see more scenery and also takes away any instinct to turn back early. But I do try to plan my routes so that I can either head home when I’m supposed to…

…or keep going.

This weekend, I only had four miles on my plan, but I hit my crossroads — and instead of turning left, I went straight. Eight miles later, I was feeling great and was glad I’d taken the option to go longer. If I hadn’t, I still would have been on plan.

But it’s kind of like the trainer that tells you to do 10 push-ups and then when you’re done, asks you for five more. Your body CAN do it, and I like to give my mind the chance to jump in, too.


3. Set Yourself Up for Success

This means going to bed on time the night before, laying out clean clothes and charged devices, telling your significant other about your plans so he/she can help you get going, etc. The times that I have failed on my plans have generally been when I drank too much the night before or took to long to get going or had to wait for my socks to dry.

4. Run for Good Reasons


I almost never run without an intention these days. This weekend, I ran for my very close friend and colleague Wendy, who just got diagnosed with a second and rare form of cancer. She is still recovering from surgery but managed to get in a bike workout last week (she’s an Ironman triathlete) so I thought if she could, I could.

I also run for others who can’t, and I sometimes even chant their name as the miles add up. I join virtual charity runs (my friend Laura runs the incredible Run Happy Races and I join all of them!) which raise money for great causes. I run because I remember when I couldn’t.

5. Brag and Celebrate

I don’t keep my workouts to myself. I tell everyone who will listen about how badass I am. I tweet, Instagram, Facebook, call my mom, call my college roommates and so on. It’s not totally self-centered…it’s my way of staying accountable and letting the world know about what I’m up to. When I’m halfway through my run, I think about how great it will be to post my final distance online, or to log it in my training book.

How do you stay motivated on long or difficult workouts?

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  1. says

    I’m right there with you. To date, the 6 miles I ran on Sunday was my longest non-race run ever. I, myself, love to do out and backs. I feel like when I do loops, there is a chance I’ll stop earlier than I planned to. If I do an out and back, I have to keep going to get home. I have come so far with running. I’m nowhere near where I want to be and I admire everyone I know training for a full marathon, but we are all at different stages. One day I will get here too!

  2. says

    These are helpful! As for number 5, though, have you seen those SomeEcards people have been posting that say something along the lines of “It’s possible to go to the gym and not post about it.”? I mean, I don’t really let those comments stop me from posting when I’m proud of a workout, but it admittedly does make me a bit self-conscious about it! What are your thoughts on that?

    • says

      Yeah, I’ve seen that kind of backlash and feedback, too…

      …I guess that I tend to chalk some of that up to sour grapes. The people that are like-minded and want to support me might roll their eyes at my updates, but in the end, they roll their eyes with love. The people that are snarky and mean should probably just unfollow if it bothers them so much.

      I’m of the mindset that my updates may inspire someone else to either GET healthy or stay healthy…and for me, it really does help keep me on track. I don’t work out for other people (that would be silly) but certainly I think that the people that believe in me won’t be bothered by the updates.

      Good question!

      • says

        Those are really good points, and kinda how I was thinking too. I also forgot that you never know who the posts might inspire! I *have* had people tell me my posts have inspired them to get moving, so that right there should be enough to make me want to continue posting them, especially since the accountability keeps ME moving too!

        Thanks for the feedback!!! :-)

  3. says

    Really enjoyed your talk at FLBlogCon and didn’t realize we had so much in common! I break up my runs that way too. I am training on the Galloway program and somehow, 20 miles doing walk/run intervals seem a lot more attainable than just running them. I also run for charity a lot, running for the Semper Fi Fund for the Marine Corps Marathon, and just completed a Marathon High virtual half marathon. Great tips, look forward to reading more!

  4. says

    I also break up my long runs mentally, usually in chunks of 6-mile runs. I try to only focus on the 6 miler that I’m in in that moment. Long runs really are all mental, not psyching yourself out is huge! Great tips : )


  1. […] 5 Ways I Survive My Long Runs (Katy Widrick) ~ For me long runs are pretty hard to get through, especially during the warmer months. Thankfully it’s cooling down a bit and these tips certainly don’t hurt. […]

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