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The middle miles of a long run are always the hardest miles on my training plan. I’m not sure exactly why this is the point during my run where I slip into a temporary state of negativity. What gets me through those middle miles is the idea that I know I’ll feel better when I get past that halfway point.
My least favorite mile when racing a half marathon (yep—you guessed it) is mile 7. I have to fight hard to stay positive and to reframe the thoughts my brain is spitting out. When that isn’t possible, I just have to ignore them and focus on something else.
Right now, I’m training for my tenth marathon and I’m already noticing that the middle miles of my long run are where I mentally suffer the most.
Here’s what I’m doing to get through those middle miles so that I don’t defeat myself during the runs.
- Focus on getting to the next water fountain and then the next water fountain. 99 percent of the time, I know I can at the very least make it to the next water fountain.
- Think about how good I’m going to feel when I only have 2 or 4 more miles to go. 4 miles feels much more doable than 10.
- Make Gu/fuel stops feel like a mid-run treat. I know gels don’t actually taste good, but when I’m stopping to eat a salted chocolate flavored Gu, I’ve learned to think of it as a mid-run treat.
- Start a conversation with my running buddy about something other than running. When I feel myself focusing on how hard and how hot I feel, it’s time to turn my attention to something else.
- If I’m running solo, I try to turn those miles into a running meditation. I count my steps or breath or just say “inhale, exhale” to myself.
Admittedly, during some runs I have to employ all of these tactics to make it to the end. While they may seem simple, they work for me right now. What tricks do you use to get through the tough miles?