The Long Run


I think long runs are what made me fall in love with running.  It wasn’t until I started having weekends where life would pretty much revolve around my run and that I was actually out there running for hours, that I really found my true passion in running.  There is nothing like the feeling after a good long run.  The combination of exhaustion, energy, exhilaration and pride is not something that can be messed with.


Long runs are quite the process though, a lot of time goes into them and not only while running.  So join me on my long run process…

The week before…

Start planning the run.  Where will I go, who will I run with, how far am I supposed to go this weekend?

This doesn’t happen every week, but I have been noticing a trend lately since I have been running with a group, that I am starting to plan the where and when during mid week.  I already know my route for this Sunday!

The day before…

I do up my carbs a tad, although not as much as I used to.  I try to make sure I am hydrating and not doing anything that might be stupid the day before a long run (eat a bunch of bad food or drink a lot of alcohol).

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The night before…

I check the weather, pick out my clothes and set them out in the bathroom.  I plan how many GUs I will need (typically 1 for every 4-5 miles) and decide which water carrier I am going to use.  I load my long run playlist onto my iPod and make sure my Garmin is charged.  I grab a change of clothes for after the run and pack that with a bar of some sort to refuel with after.  I set the coffee pot to brew 15 minutes before I plan on waking up.

I typically eat plain pasta or pizza (although I am going to be experimenting with some new pre-long run fuel soon), and sometimes have a beer.  I try to be in bed at least 8 hours before I am going to get up and set my alarm so I will wake up an hour before I have to leave.

The morning of…

Alarm goes off and I get out of bed.  I feed the cats, let the dogs out, feed the dogs, THEN get my cup of coffee.  I like to be able to sit and do nothing for 30 minutes before I have to start getting ready (which is why I get up so much earlier than I leave).

I typically eat an english muffin toasted with peanut butter and sometimes a banana or a zbar.  Although if you are a fan on facebook you may have noticed me asking for some new long run breakfast suggestions last week, I am really getting sick of mine! 

I do this all while checking email, twitter, facebook, blogs, and watching TV.  I love this sit and zone out time.

Finally I start getting ready.  I get dressed and check the weather again to make sure I am dressing appropriately, and get ready to head out the door.  Oh and I go to the bathroom 96870635 times during this process.


Long run time!

It always takes me at least a mile to warm up and I try to just not worry about my pace for the first couple miles.  It’s about finding your zone and getting comfortable in the run.  Depending on the distance I take my first GU around 4-5 miles and drink sips of water every mile or so.  Eventually I find my zone and enter the best part of running long distances.


My pace varies based on how I feel, but I am typically right in the middle.  Not a long slow distance runner, but also not quite a goal pace long run runner, at least for the whole thing.  I like to run where I feel happy and comfortable and where I am pushing myself a little bit but not to the point of going overboard.  I like to finish my long runs strong and typically can end with my last mile as my fastest.


Mentally I pretty much can be all over the place.  Some runs I have no idea what I thought about for the entire time, but some runs I can remember every little thought. 

Sometimes my thoughts are only about running, sometimes they have nothing to do with running.  Sometimes I make big elaborate plans and sometimes I get frustrated and every once in a while I can be a little mean to myself. 

The brain is the hardest thing to train and sometimes can go out of control so even when the mean part does comes out, I just try to control it and don’t let it overtake me.  After I always laugh at what I was thinking and know it’s not the truth, but it’s a good thing to know how to control and overcome for the tough spots in races.



After the run is over I stretch and drink some water.  Typically I drink a latte also (hey milk = protein!) or chocolate milk.  I try to make myself eat something within the first 20-30 minutes also, even if it’s just a bar or a banana, your muscles will thank you later. 

Once I am home, I try to take an ice bath after my long runs, even though I have been slacking on this lately.  After a HOT shower I will stuff my face with a bigger meal, relax, sometimes take a nap, or sometimes I just lay down for a bit. 


As you can see long runs can be quite the process and take up a lot of time!  Overall they are my most favorite.  I feel amazing after and love everything about them, even the tough sections.  Long runs make you stronger in every facet.  Sometimes they can be a little daunting but as long as you change up your routes, include some friends, have good tunes, and are enjoying yourself, the time spent preparing, doing, and recovering from them is all worth it.

Do you plan out everything for your runs or do you just wing it?

How far are you running this weekend?

I have TWENTY scheduled – eek!

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38 Responses to The Long Run

  1. Joanne January 28, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Great Post! My favorite is the long run as well. Just to lose yourself in the run, it’s a wonderful experience. When the Spring weather hits the NE again, I’ll be able to enjoy that long run. Right now, during the winter, it’s tough. But looking at your photos allows me to remember how great it feels to get out there in shorts and run the trails or just get lost along the roads you haven’t taken before.

    As for eat, guess we are all pretty much the same. My long run go to food is a banana with slightly less than 1 TBS of PB. I don’t GEL (Accelerade are my fav – mocha!) until about 6 miles, 12 miles, then depending if I am going 20, maybe a 5-Hr Energy drink at 16.

    A lot of credit to you for icing! Not me. I can’t even get in an indoor swimming pool without a wet suit (seriously – NOT exaggerating).

    Have a great long run. Best wishes for wonderful weather and can’t wait to read about so I hope you have one of those runs where you remember every little thing :) TGIF

  2. Runeatrepeat January 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    I don’t normally plan out my long runs in terms of what I’m wearing or where I’m going until right before.

    That first picture looks super inviting though!

  3. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad January 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    I have a 20-miler this weekend too! I can’t wait!

    Yes, long runs are such a process. The prep work alone! I lay out everything the night before and check the weather too. I have such a routine that it’s actually comforting come race day, if that makes any sense!

    • Aron January 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

      YES!! Definitely makes sense. I think that’s where the habit started, treating each long run like race day practice :)

  4. Morgan January 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Yay for 20! I can’t wait til I’m back up to that kinda of mileage again, it’s been SO LONG!!! Long runs are what made me fall in love with running too and I totally love my pre-run routine. Glad I’m not the only one who pees a zillion times either! LOL! Have a great run this weekend!

  5. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair January 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I LOVE my long runs too! There is nothing that feels as good as accomplishing a big distance like that! I remember feeling so proud of myself every time I accomplished a new huge distance during marathon training!

    My routine is very similar to yours! I LOVE the mellow blog/twitter/facebook time that I have while eating right before heading out for a long run!

    Question: Do you ever take walk breaks on your long runs or do you always run the whole thing?

    • Aron January 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

      I might stop to refill water, use the bathroom, wait for stop lights, but when I am moving I am always running :) Not that walking breaks are bad! I just don’t take them or don’t need them.

  6. Page January 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    I love that you are so prepared! I wish I could run with you this weekend, but I’ll be thinking about you on the IHT tomorrow

  7. Nelly January 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Great post! I think your quote said it best about long runs “The combination of exhaustion, energy, exhilaration and pride is not something that can be messed with.”

    I thought it was really exciting passing a new mile barrier every long run like Amber said above, that was a fun experience.

    Long runs are the big challenge each training cycle – if it goes well your confidence soars and you feel on top of the world. If it doesn’t go as well – it can zap your confidence and you might start to doubt yourself. The main thing is to get through the run, and if it didn’t go well to try to make changes for next time – since you might know what you did wrong out there. The entire body and mind is tested on long runs! =)

  8. Keri January 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    I like to have lattes after long runs too! In fact, sometimes I lust after them during my entire run!

  9. Christine January 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    I’m supposed to run 9, but I got my wisdom tooth removed this week and try to do 6 miles. My long run routine is very similar to yours, except the ice bath :)

  10. Jessica January 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I’m one of those people who have to sit for a while before actually doing anything in the morning. It helps me wake up!

  11. ginny January 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Loved this blog and the pics. I LOVE the long runs too. I keep saying I’m going to really focus on the 5k after the next marathon, and then I start training for the next marathon. Some REALLY strong pull toward the distance. I’m running The Wall 30k in New Orleans on Sunday. Hope your 20 is fun.

  12. Eva January 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    I love this post! Your rituals, pre-run and post-run, are alot like mine. However, I get extremely nervous about where I will find water (to refill my bottle) and a bathroom when needed on my long run route. As a result, my long runs have become much less fun because there’s only one park I can run that I feel comfortable running in, where water and bathrooms are readily available whenever I will need them. I wish I felt comfortable finding other places to run my long run.

  13. sarah January 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    I do really weird math during long runs….if it’s an 18 mile run, then i pretend it’s 5 miles three times and then another 3 miles. Or on an 18 miler, once i’m at mile 14, i tell myself i have 3 miles left and then another ‘final’ mile (which somehow doesn’t count!!)….good times :>

    • Aron January 29, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      haha I do the SAME thing, lots of weird math that never makes sense afterwards and always think “less than” X miles to go. On a 15 miler at mile 10.05 I think, less than 5 to go!

    • Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef January 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

      ha i always do all these pace calculations and divisions of the run and all this nonsense! none of my math makes any sense afterwards either too!

  14. Karyn January 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    you totally are a better runner than me. all that planning! i’ve been winging it lately and i probably should get back to planning. i fell in love with the long run when i started running too. no idea how far i’m going this weekend. granted i did my lr on thursday but i have speedwork and i usually get a good distance in on those days too

  15. Dennis January 28, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Wow, you use a lot of gels! Nowadays, on my long runs (18-21 miles), I use just one gel, mainly because gels are starting to make me nauseous (been using them for years, but only recently has the taste really started to bug me). I should use at least two, but I’m too cheap to waste them on training runs (I’ll use 3-4 for marathons though). I’m pretty bad about fluid consumption too. I don’t start really drinking until about mile 8-10.

    The way I plan my long runs is, basically I don’t. Sometimes, I’m just sitting around the house and think, “Hmm, I probably should get a long run in,” and then go out and do it. But I usually go for a shorter run, say 13-15 miles, and if at mile 10-11, I feel good, then I keep going. I like to have this “bonus” mentality… have a shorter goal, hit it, and anything extra is just gravy. Last week’s 16 miler ended up at 21 just because I felt good enough to continue.

    Basically, you and I are complete opposites in terms of long runs (= With one exception. I go to the bathroom 423617 times too \=

  16. the dawn January 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    good luck with your 20! i love it when a training plan gets to runs that start with 2′s. always makes me feel like i’m a part of the actual marathon. there’s something about 20-milers that i take more seriously than any other part of training. even though this week i’m going 18, it seems so much less “urgent” than how i feel when i’m planning on running 20. i’m so excited that i get to do 3 more 20 milers! i might even squeeze in some 22′s…

  17. The Laminator January 28, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Yeah, I like my long runs too! If only the weather would cooperate and not leave a bunch of snow on the ground for me to slip and slide through. That nowithstanding, I can handle 20 mile runs now without much preparation. They’ve become sort of comfortable. I sort of remember when they used to be a big deal. Now not so much. Perhaps that’s why I’m running a 50K.

    I’m hoping for 18-24 tomorrow too…weather permitting that is.

  18. J January 29, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    Good luck on your long run this weekend! I have never done an ice bath, I used to use the ice bath in the training room at college but since then I haven’t. I usually eat oatmeal before a long run on the weekends in the winter. In the summer I eat toast and PB. and coffee of course.

  19. Meghan January 29, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    You have such a positive perspective on something is so easy to dread! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Runner26 January 29, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I also love the long run! They do take a lot of planning, but it’s all very much worth it. I usually plan my route and estimated time of departure, but other than that, i don’t plan much. Breakfast varies from oatmeal, toast w/pb, cereal, yogurt. And i almost always have coffee! I also love just hanging before the run, digesting breakfast and just enjoying the downtime. It gets me excited for the run.

    Good luck with the twenty!! I’m sure it will be great!

  21. katie January 29, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    I always have a Luna bar & a banana for breakfast. sometimes a small glass of soy milk. I fuel every 4 miles if i’m running longer the 9-10, otherwise just water. my post-long-run breakfast is my favorite, yogurt+granola+protein powder, oh yummm. actually, I eat that every day. :) and i’m a big planner, i usually have everything figured out days in advance!

    I ran 9 this morning for my LR, good luck on your 20!

  22. Denise January 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    i do very little planning…just email my peeps, see who’s running, we pick a place and time and that’s it. the night before i’ll set out my water bottles so i don’t forget and make my chocolate milk for after, but that’s it.

  23. Lauren @ LaurenRuns January 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Interesting to hear your long run preparation & recovery process! I ran 13 miles this weekend in preparation for my marathon later this spring, and it’s good to hear about what other people are doing similar or different from me! I think I definitely need to try some new breakfast food. Lately I’ve eaten just a Clif Bar and that was fine, but I think I’m going to need some more fuel as I up the mileage!

  24. Lindsey @ Eat, Read, Run January 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Love this post and love long runs as well. I still get a little bit nervous about them the day and night before. But there is no better feeling when it’s done. You’ve got 20 planned already?!! Wowza. I ran 14 today and it was a fantastic run! Oh and btw, I am going to make my husband read this post b/c he thinks I am crazy for the number of times I go to the bathroom before I leave for a run. He says I have a problem and I try to tell him that a lot of runners do it. Point proven in this post!

  25. Jo Lynn January 29, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    When you break it all down like that, it does seem like a lot of work. But, I know, the more prepared I am, the better the run will be. ;)

  26. Jess January 30, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    It was actually the weekly long runs that turned me off of marathons: the entire week seemed to revolve around their preparation and I felt like my entire life then revolved around them. Tiresome, for me. But, glad you love ‘em! Hope your 20 miler went well!

  27. heather January 30, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    Hi! Just found your blog and love it. This is a great post. I agree, having 30-45 min. to sit around and vegetate before going out is very important :) you asked for breakfast tips: it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (sorry for the mixed metaphor…) but for long runs and races I swear by two bananas w/1 tbsp almond butter, and a powerbar harvest. Naturally with lots of water and some coffee (which luckily does not bother my stomach if I run right after drinking it. Not sure what I’d do without pre-run coffee!) Anyway, that’s just what works for me.

  28. Mica January 30, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    I also have a mandatory “sit and zone out” time before every run. It really is essential. I could never hop out of bed and immediately get going. I think my legs would feel like lead.

  29. Roisin January 30, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I usually start planning just a couple of days in advance of the long run, although if I know I have other obligations that weekend, I start planning earlier so I can make sure there are no excuses on long run day.

    8 miles done and done.

  30. Bethany January 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    hehe, I’m pretty sure you know my answer to this one…i obviously wing it! well, i lay out my clothes and fill up my hand held andi know how far i’m going to go but that’s about it. I have A LOT of extra helpful factors on race day that i don’t have in training ie, more sleep, better hydration, more nutrition, more fuel in days before etc. i love devoting my weekends to long runs! especially in the summer when we can run for hours on our favorite trails. oh to see green again…all we see here is white (snow) and brown (dead trees.). I enjoyed reading this post!

  31. Marlene January 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    I love the long run routine! I start planning mine early in the week, too. Since the routes and distances are generally planned by my training group, I’ll figure out what tweaks need to be made to fit my own schedule.

    I also love downtime in the morning before getting ready and I actually get up almost 90 minutes before leaving the house most of the time. Mark thinks I’m nuts since he likes to sleep as long as possible and wake up half an hour before.

  32. Susan - Nurse on the Run January 31, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    I used to get all worked up about my long runs, but I wing them more now…and they don’t freak me out as much as they used to! I want to start planning long runs WITH people, so hopefully that will make for better planning. :)


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