There are times in our running lives, at least in theory, where everything just kind of goes to plan.
You are consistent with your training and make pretty steady progress in all facets of your fitness.
Then there are the times when you’re seemingly doing everything right and signs of progress are few and far between.
What Causes Things to Go Sideways?
There are any number of reasons that runners can kind of get “stuck” when it comes to their long runs.
Fatigue. Overtraining. Poor fueling.
Those are, perhaps, the more common issues at play.
But some sneakier potential causes?
Ego and mental blocks.
From where I sit, both as a coach and as someone that has had his fair share of issues when it comes to long runs, the latter are way more devilish than the former.
Overcoming the Ego and/or Mental Blocks
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll take a physical struggle over an internal struggle any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Sadly, for me at least, the internal struggles are a bit more common.
Over the years, I’ve put a few different “tricks” to the test in an attempt to get out of my own way and build up my long run endurance.
No guarantees any of these tricks will work for you, but feel free to give them a try the next time your ego or your mind seems to be getting in your way.
No surprise here, more than likely, but slowing down on your long runs can make a world of difference as the miles add up.
And when I say slow down, I mean slow WAY down. At least until you’re able to get over the hump.
Knock a minute or two off of your pace per mile and you might be surprised how strong you feel after a couple of hours on your feet.
Hesitant to try it out because of what it’ll do to your strava stats?
That’s your ego getting in the way.
Add Walk Breaks
For some runners, the idea of a regular walk break during a run of any distance is a non-starter.
If you’re struggling with increasing your long runs, one way to help you get over the hump is to accumulate more time on your feet during your longer runs.
One way to do that? Walk a bit during your run.
Maybe ever mile. Maybe ever half mile. The details don’t matter as much as having a plan and sticking to it.
And don’t wait until you’re tired to start your walking either. Start early, before you need the walking, and it’ll pay off in spades as the miles pile up.
If you’re already a run/walker?
No worries. Just adjust your intervals so you’re either walking more and/or running less.
Use Reset Points
If you’re struggling a bit with getting past a certain distance, “resetting” midway through a long run can help you get over the hump.
What do I mean by resetting?
Simply break your long run into two or more shorter runs with a little break in between.
So let’s say you’re struggling to get passed 10 miles.
Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to get to 11 or 12 miles, do a 6 mile route and then stop your watch.
Save the run on your watch and give yourself a few minutes to catch your breath.
Then set out on a “new” run, maybe another 5 or 6 miles, and just cruise on through without thinking too much about how many miles you’ve actually run.
If you don’t overthink it, resetting yourself during a long run can be a great way to blow through any mental blocks that you have built up for yourself.
One of the best way to stay out of your own head and avoid any long run mental blocks is to run with others.
A good long run conversation will help you stay in the moment and avoid tripping yourself up mentally.
Don’t have friends you can call on to run with you?
Look from group runs in your area that you can join.
With a little luck, you might be able to make multiple running friends that you can lean on, as needed, for years to come.
Get Over the Hump
Whether this is your first time building your long run endurance or you’re working on getting some of your fitness back after a bit of a layoff, it’s really frustrating when you just can’t seem to make any progress all of a sudden.
The tips above? With a little luck, one of them will help you get over the hump.
More likely, it’ll take a combination of two or three to help you move past whatever distance you’ve been struggling with.
That being said, almost every roadblock has a way to move past it.
You just have to keep putting yourself out there, going for those long runs, and trying different things to unlock the solution that you need to move forward.
And once that happens?
Have You Ever Struggled Getting Over the Hump When Increasing Your Long Run Distance?
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