I have been asking people different topics they would like to read about in regards to running and this is one that I feel I am an expert in. I have completed three marathon builds with long runs up to 37km and I have done ALL the LONG RUNS ALONE!!!
So how do I do it? Well I think the first major thing is to set aside the time. If you are out on your long run and thinking about the other million things you should be doing then it is not going to be an enjoyable experience. So find a block of time in your week that will work for you and sub in your long run and mark it as busy!
Next be sure to be conservative as you build up your long run. The golden rule is no more than 10% increase in mileage per week but I also use this for increasing my long run. This way it is never going to feel way harder week to week. It will feel like an easy progression and before you know it you are running your longest run ever!
Choose a route and have a plan. I think this is really important as well. The worse thing is having a long run where you are just making meaningless circles to get in more mileage. If you have a route the time passes faster because you do not have to be thinking about where to go next. I usually (weather dependent) try to make at least some of the route on a trail or in a park so that it is more exciting (*and there are less stop lights) than sticking to city roads. Good options for the winter months is lakeshore Martin Goodman Trail, which gets maintained through the winter. Also doing a couple loops in Mount Pleasant Cemetery is another option. And here is a fun fact you can go west on lakeshore past where the path ends!! Fun right? I did a lot of my long runs in the summer heading out toward Port Credit (*I live on the west side of the city) to change it up.
Use the time to think…. or not think at all! People always ask me what do you think about for 2-3hrs while you are out there running by yourself. And the truth is if I have something I have really been needing to ponder I will think about that. But a lot of the time I just zone out. It is my me time and so I just let it be. And if you are wondering no I never listen to music when running. At the end of the day you are really practicing for race day right? You will be out on the course sometimes alone and so you need to be okay with the solitude of running for a long time by yourself.
Another thing to help get you out the door is to think about how great you will feel after it is done and you have accomplished the distance. It is also a boost to your weekly mileage. Use the fact of getting our for a long run on your own as motivation… it is tough to do but you will feel like a rock star after it is done! Think about the other people that would have just skipped it instead.
Typically I head out on my long runs at a very easy pace and usually I will pick up the pace, provided I am feeling good on the second half of the run. Which is also another way to keep yourself occupied.
Lastly think of what your overall major goal is for the season/life and how much of an impact these long runs are going to make on it. Especially if you are building for a marathon the long run is one fo the most important runs of the week and therefore should be treated as such.
After said long run is done I would also caution you to take the necessary steps to help yourself recover. This includes eating a well balanced snack at least within 20mins of your run that includes carbohydrates AND protein. Lately I have been opting for a protein shake with fruit and vegetables. Then having a more well balanced meal within the next hour after that.
You should also have a mobility routine to go through after. This will help keep the motivation up as it should help you to not feel sore the next day. If you do not have a mobility routine but would like to learn one come to The Runner’s Academy mobility workshop this Sunday January 24 1-4pm $40/person. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/943344379079291/
I hope this has been helpful to get you out the door for solo long runs!! Worse comes to worse just think of everyone else being out there doing their long runs and getting that much further ahead of you in their training!
At the end of the day:
Happy long run!!!