It’s Friday. Almost 5 o’clock. I won’t make some comment about it being 5 o’clock somewhere because I’m sick of hearing that. For me, it doesn't have to be 5 o’clock anywhere. If I want to drink that badly, I consume regardless if it’s 5 o’clock in Taiwan or not (that would be 5 a.m. Denver time, but perhaps I like to pour beer on my Cap’n Crunch. Don’t judge). Wow, that made me sound like a drunk. I’m just bragging. I’m 110 lbs. of can’t-hold-my-liquor over here.
As soon as I am finished driving kids around, I will pop a cold one. It’s happy hour. Again! (Housemartins, circa 1986).
Here I sit like I do every week on the eve of my long run asking myself, “Where in the hell will I go this time?” (The fact is I’ve run the routes around here a bazillion times and it’s getting tough to be creative. I’m about ready to just run down the highway for a change. Me and the truckers could bond or talk about strip clubs at the very least). “IPod or no iPod?” “Bring fuel or hide it in the bushes?” (Note to self: pick different bush to crap in). “What is the weather going to be at 7 a.m.?”
Doing these long runs week after week takes mental fortitude. Here are some SUAR tips for getting through long solo runs.
- Think about the reward. I like incentives. On my run with Dean (name dropping) I talked about imbibing in beer and baklava at the end. Oh yea, porta potty. Get ready. This was around mile 7 of 21 miles. He politely informed me that we couldn’t talk about B & B until we were through the last checkpoint and only had 3 miles to go. That’s crap. I need that B & B incentive the whole way. My reward? Usually a big coffee and fatty pastry.
- Do the Walkie Talkie. I learned about this from Runner’s World. The walkie talkie is when you fart every time your foot strikes the ground. This can be great fun and a nice distraction whether you are alone or in a group.
- Keep eyes off of the Garmin. I try to glance sparingly at the Garmin. Typically I only look at it when it beeps at a mile mark so I can gauge pace. Anymore than this and things seem to drag. Have a rule about how often: every song, every mile, at half way etc.
- Change up the numbers. Instead of saying, “Shit I have to run 18 miles! I’ll never make it!” I tell myself I have to run six miles three times. It just sounds better. However, I wouldn’t advise telling yourself to do one mile 18 times or two miles 9 times. Ugh.
- Bring your phone. Yeah, yeah, for safety and all that, but I also bring it as a lifeline. I’ve never had to call for a mid-run pick up or therapy session, but I reserve the right to do so. I like to know that if I get sick or cold or depressed I’m not out there all by myself.
- Have something in your back pocket. I like to have a plan for when I get sick of running, am tired, am bored, am achy. What will I tell myself? How will I keep going? Visualizations and imagery work well too. Getting in the habit of relying on yourself for mental pick-me-ups is a good trick for race day as well.
- Do the half and half. I like to break up my long runs by taking the first half in peace and quiet. No music. Just my breathing and my feet on the pavement/trail. At the half way mark, I put in some music and it becomes a different run entirely.
- Talk to yourself. I love this tactic. I don’t do it continuously, that takes too much energy and would make me look insane. But sometimes I give myself a little verbal nudge: “Okay you can do this.” “F*ck this.” “One more mile and you can have a GU.” “Damn, I have to take a dump.”
- Change It Up. Every once in awhile I change up my form for a few minutes. I try a different foot strike or concentrate on pulling back my shoulders. I might move my arms more/less or unclench my fists. The point is to mix it up and let your body move differently for a few minutes. I also try varying my pace every now and then. Speeding up until the next stop sign. Slowing down for a half a mile.
- Visualize running the race. Usually at some point in the long run I’ll get super inspired for like five minutes. This usually happens after the half way mark when I know I’m closer to finishing than starting. I imagine myself running the marathon. I am strong and capable and well trained. This never fails to give me a boost.
And the bonus survival tip:
- Bring toilet paper. It keeps you fresh. I wouldn’t advise packing it out, though.
What’s your best long run tip???