With no option to quit, the point-to-point long run sets a runner up for success—and many miles!

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Last week I talked about some of the mental games I play to help myself finish long runs when I am nervous or not motivated to run as far as I need to.

Another type of long run that I do is the point-to-point run. It is great for those days when mentally even multiple short runs won’t work.

In 8 days I will be running the Great Wall of China Marathon!

Earlier in the year, I was training for Boston Marathon. However due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had decided that I wasn’t going to be able to run. I had put in some long runs prior to my decision, but by the time I found out I was going to China, the longest distance I was running was 12 or so miles. I needed to ramp up my long runs—and do it quickly— if I had any hope of finishing this epic marathon. This meant that I needed to jump from my 12 mile long runs up to 18-20 miles.

Just to note—I have been running marathons consistently for 12 years. I do NOT recommend jumping your long run mileage like this unless you are sure your body can handle it. I have never been injured before and pay close attention to the signs my body sends me. While not ideal, I knew I could handle it.

Physically I knew I could finish 20 miles but mentally I wasn’t there. I needed a way not to quit on the run, which meant giving myself zero “escape” options. A point to point run was the only way I knew I could mentally finish 20 miles.

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Here is what it looked like:

  • Drop my daughter and eldest son at school at 7:30 a.m.
  • Come home, get ready for the run and get my youngest son ready for pre-school.
  • Drop my youngest son at school 8:35 a.m. and pay for him to stay for the extended lunch bunch. (This gave me an extra 2 hours of time.)
  • Drive 3 miles from my house, farther up the trail.
  • Started my run at 9 a.m.
  • Ran 3 miles downhill towards my house.
  • Passed my house and ran 17 more miles through four more towns and ended at a popular shopping area.
  • Met my mom who was off from work that day.
  • Rode with her to pick up my youngest son from pre-school and then drove 3 miles back to pick up my car.

Relentless forward motion is the mantra I repeated to myself over and over on this run. One foot in front of the other. There were no thoughts of getting to a turn around point. No thinking that with every step forward, I’m going to have to take those same steps back – ugh. I knew that with every single foot strike I was closer to the end of the run – yay. I carried my phone on the run, just in case something happened or one of my children’s schools needed to contact me, but I didn’t give myself the option of calling my mom anywhere on that route.

This run does take a little more planning than others because you need a way back home at the end of the run. Otherwise it can be a very helpful way to run long. If you don’t have a friend or family member who can come and get you, there is always the cab option!

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I like my running to take up as little family time as possible on the weekends. If I do this run on the weekend, I give my husband a bag of clothes for me, start early, and have my family meet me at the end. A quick change out of my sweaty running gear and we have the day to go out to lunch, head to a park or run errands as a family!

Point-to-point runs are actually one of my favorites because after the run it really clicks in your head how far 20 miles in. In 20 miles I can run in five different towns. I can start in one county and end in another! The runner geek me in me loves this – I literally RUN THIS TOWN.