Long run anxiety

Things have been pretty busy this week, so I never got around to reporting back on last Saturday’s long run (I’m sure you were holding your breath…). Did I do a better job preparing and recovering from the effort? Ehhh, questionable. But I got the miles in and my legs feel good, so that’s all that really matters. But in general, long runs….UGH, they stress.me.out.

“But Megan, haven’t you been doing this for a long time? Haven’t you trained for and run marathons in the past?”

Yes, all true, but that doesn’t stop me from having mini panic attacks whenever I think about double digit runs. My original plan was to wake up around 8am on Saturday, drink my coffee, have a small breakfast, and hit the road by 9am. I  had hoped to be showered and smugly sipping a hot chocolate by noon. “What! You’re just waking up? Well, I’ve got 18 miles in the bank!” Ahahaha. Yeah. That did not happen. Instead I fretted about the weather for awhile and decided to wait until the light rain/snow subsided. Okay, new plan: eat some yogurt and granola, catch up on emails, and start running at noon. Really. Wellll, noon rolls around and I start getting very anxious about the run. 18 miles!?! By myself! That’s so long. Maybe I should just do it tomorrow. Yeah, what a great idea! Tomorrow. I texted a few friends to see if they had plans to run the next day – I always feel more confident in my ability to complete a long run when I have company. Ehhh, no such luck. The three running buddies I contacted all told me the same thing “Just get it done today, Megan. You’ll be happy you did.” Still stressing out about the mileage, I decided to further procrastinate by hiding under my down comforter, watching 37 minutes of 2 Days in Paris, and eventually eating 6 slices of buttered toast. Because that’s basically the same thing as a bagel and I was low on groceries.

Finally, finally around 3:30pm I decided to just bite the bullet and head outside. At this point I was still only hoping for 6 miles, although I knew in the back of my head that I’d probably shoot for the whole shebang. I ran from my apartment, over the Brooklyn Bridge (I hip-checked a tourist who wouldn’t move over, YAY), and up the West Side Highway. When I reached 9 miles, I just turned around and doubled back. Was this a very interesting run? No. Was it fast? Not really, I averaged 8:45 pace. Did I have fun? About as much as a root canal! But I got it done, all by myself, partially in the dark, and not in the best state of mind. 18 miles in 2 hours, 38 minutes. Effortless long runs with friends are great, but sometimes the toughest runs provide the best preparation for race day. Hopefully when I’m running through the streets of Boston with tapered legs, an optimal nutrition plan, and cheering crowds, I’ll remember how I stuck it out through all those lonely, boring miles.

Last week I hit 72 miles without too, too much effort and my legs feel surprisingly good. It’s cool to notice my endurance progressing over time. I remember the very first time I cracked 60 or 70 miles – I also remember my legs feeling veryyy tired and beat up. Now it feels a lot better. I may not be in the fastest shape of my life (hey! college track season), but I don’t think I’ve ever run this much volume while feeling so good. Can you tell running and I are on good terms these days? Hah. I know that could change any minute…But my point is – I think it’s important to keep pushing your boundaries. 30 or 40 or 50 miles might seem like a lot to run in a week right now, but if you keep increasing over time it will eventually be “no big deal”. If you’re here for the recipes, this mileage talk might not interest (or apply to) you, but if you’re a competitive runner, try bumping up the mileage. I really do think that the best way to become a better runner, is to practice running. Sure, there’s all sorts of crazy cool stuff that happens to your body when you run a lot (increased running economy, improved v02 max,etc), but you also gain experience and confidence. Although clearly I am still working on that when it comes to long runs…

Besides excessive buttered toast eating, how did I prepare and recover from this long run? Still not perfect, but it could have been worse. I stopped for a chocolate coconut water after about 13 miles and sipped it slowly for the remainder of the run. Should I have drunk something sooner? Yes, probably, but I was on running along a path with no water fountains, open bathrooms, or stores. Anyway, post-long run food was one of my guilty pleasures: spicy ramen with extra vegetables. Mmm, sodium. And a tart cherry-seltzer mocktail. Because it’s important to hydrate! And not with beer. At least not right away….

In other news, I had a lovely Valentine’s Day with some of my favorite single ladies. We hit up Pulqueria  a new Mexican-Tequila-Pulque joint in Chinatown (yup, you read that right). We had to traverse the maze-like streets of Lower Manhattan to get there and when we arrived? No signs, just an unmarked staircase leading underground. I was barely cool enough to be there.

There was pulque (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented agave plants), tequila cocktails, micheladas…it was a good night!

Pumpkin Seed Dip (sort of like guacamole…):

Verduras and Cochinita tacos:

Hooray for mid-week lady dates that last until midnight.

Do double digit runs stress out anyone else? Or do you love long runs? If so, tell me your secret!

  • Gemma Cartwright

    How did you find the coconut water? Did it rehydrate you beyond your wildest expectations like ‘they’ say it does? I’m yet to try… mainly because there’s only one (super-expensive) brand that only the fancy supermarket stocks here in NZ… Maybe I’ll suck it up and try it this weekend! I’m the same, a long run is sooo daunting unless I have awesome company because then it seems like a party…a party moving at a rapid pace and my running buddies always have some good goss to fill me in on to make the miles (or Ks as we say here) fly by! I do really love that totally spent feeling that sticks with you for the rest of the day after a long run though! Sheer exhaustion never felt so great!

  • Anonymous

    I bought the coconut water at a deli/bodega in BK, that stuff is all over the place here in the U.S. 🙂

  • word. i’d probably stress-eat my entire kitchen before an 18 mile run. congrats on getting out there and getting it done!

    i am now intrigued by this pulque stuff. and pumpkin seed guacamole.

  • long runs with crappy weather wear me out where I procrastinate until sunday night and finally force myself at the last minute.  

  • I love long runs more than short runs, but seeing as how I’ve never run more than 14 miles, “long” is relative. I will probably change my tune on this one when I’m marathon training. 

    Pulque, eh? Intriguing! 

  • Marvin

    LOL…love the bit about procrastinating for a long run. It always seems like the longer you wait the harder it is to get motivated to get out the door. Usually I’ll nibble on something to delay the run for an hour and before I know it I’m eating like half a chicken while still in my pajamas.

  • Seriously – how are you inside my head!? I just blogged about the same thing! I get major long run anxiety, AND this weekend I put off my 18 miler as long as I possibly could. Which pretty much means I wasted all day Saturday and all day Sunday stressing about it. I finally sucked it up and got out there, and what do you know – I survived. 

    So sorry…I have no secrets. But at least I can tell you that you’re not alone.

  • Oh man I totally get anxious about long runs…especially in the double digits!  It makes me feel better that even others with a lot of experience get anxiety too.  I tried to use positive mantras and visualization.  Or just not think about it 🙂  I also like to run in the morning so I’m not thinking about it all day.You can do it girl!

  • Oh man, so funny that you speak of long-run procrastination/anxiety.  TOTALLY BEEN THERE.  In fact, I’ve even had that same internal monologue of “maybe I’ll do it tomorrow” even though I KNOW I should JUST DOOOO IT.  Why is it so difficult to get out the door sometimes?
    Anyway, nice run and awesome mileage!  You continue to be an inspiration!

  • RunTheLongRoad

    i’m so impressed that you waited that long and still did your run at 3:30?!?!  i would die.  i actually do like long runs but i have to just get up and go in the morning.  which is going to be hard with boston b/c of the late start.  i need to follow some of your advice and chill out a bit more in the AM!!!

    72 miles?!  WOW!

  • Jess @ almostovernow.com

    ‘Anxiety’ doesn’t quite cover it: I downright dread long runs and always freak out before marathons because I’m so scared and intimidated by the distance and pain potential.  I’m like a kid on a rollercoaster screaming ‘I wanna get off!’ at the top.

    But the feeling of conquering that anxiety?  Nothing beats it.  Absolutely nothing.


  • Sarah

    Have you tried Xanax?

    OH but I kid. I’ll do your long run with you next weekend! For rillz

  • Page

    I’m pretty sure I’m on the same page, especially double day workouts. You must go through at least 25 excuses as to why you should do it tomorrow before you finally man up and just get it done. P.S. I’d love to be cool enough to try that restaurant too

  • Yes!  I stress out about long workouts & I don’t know if it’s easier to have a small window of time to get it done so you can’t procrastinate or if it’s better to procrastinate & take your time getting out the door.  Sometimes I’ll wake up super early just so I have time to chill & wrap my head around what I’m about to do.  Silly?  Yes.  Often necessary?  In my world it is.

  • I do stress about long runs.  I’ve done a lot so I shouldn’t.  The weather is a huge part of my stress.  But I also love them.  My secret is to not even open the curtains and head out first thing in the morning.  

  • Alison

    I had the exact same experience this weekend.  Was supposed to run 18…woke up at 6:30 and proceeded to hit the refresh button on weather.com 293943 million times hoping that the temperature would magically rise above 25 degrees.  Eventually I realized that wasn’t going to happen and just went for it…

  • Anonymous

    ooh that place looks like fun! I feel your pain re: long runs. When thinking about the length, I get stressed. But what helps me is just waking up, getting ready like a normal run and just going. If I think about it as a route (CP, over to Riverside, maybe to the BK bridge..) rather than omg18miles it seems more doable, for some reason!

  • Run anxiety sucks. Double digit runs are few and far between in my life, but I can recall that feeling of sheer dread and terror well. I don’t have much advice to give besides quoting Rob Schneider in The Water Boy- you can doooooo it!

    That was an awesome lady date.

  • After Ironman training, I used to do the long run stressing out/procrastinating for an entire weekend. It would go from BREAK OF DAWN saturday morning to Monday night. It got a little out of control. This cycle (not that I’m back up to super long runs yet) post-injury, I’ve been so excited to get miles in, that I’m not falling victim to the stress/procrastination yet. So, maybe the secret is: break your foot, take two months off, and be cured? But I don’t recommend it. 

  • Annie

    Really appreciate the toast approach to preparing for long runs. i do that all too often, it takes a while but eventually gets you out the door!

  • Becs

    You have to join this Real Housewives of NYC’s running team so I can live vicariously through you! This woman claims she always runs IN traffic so she can feel the city…

  • If I’m alone, long runs freak me out — basically anything over 10. If it’s with people, then anything over 14 freaks me out. If its 18 or 20, then, yeah, I’m making sure I bring cash/card in case something goes wrong. 18 miles takes me probably 3 hours or so. THAT IS A LONG TIME OF RUNNING.

    I also procrastinate, but basically because I really just want to eat breakfast and drink coffee first thing when I wake up.

    Friends help! Which is why I was so thankful when you jumped in that 18 miler with me….

    Hoping I can return the favor soon!

  • Lindsay

    I am fortunate enough to have a running buddy who is marathon-training with me even though she’s not signed up for a marathon. (I, ever dauntingly, am…and it’s my very first one. Eek.) Luckily, the upper double-digit runs have company and motivation.

    A related question, however… How about motivation afterwards–to do anything at all? I’m having a problem with my post-long run habits. I can’t help but ravenously eat everything in my kitchen (sort of) usually followed by a failed attempt to do necessary schoolwork. I end up falling asleep by 7pm because I’m so exhausted.

  • Anonymous

    Oh goodness, I wish I had more advice on how *not* to be exhausted after a long run. I would suggest eating something ASAP to start muscle recovery and drinking a lot to stay hydrated. And then maybe a brief nap?

  • Margaret

    definitely have long run anxiety and marathon anxiety, maybe that’s why we feel so good when we’re done, like a weight lifted off of our shoulders

  • Healthyeverythingtarian

    oh. em. gee.

    i miss you.

    more so because you get anxious about long runs. and so do i! i mean, stepping out the door knowing you have 18 MILES AHEAD OF YOU…what can be more stressful than that? luckily, my friend is training for this marathon with me so those 15 miles on Sunday don’t seem quite as taunting.

    and ugh! all you ladies. how i love each and every one of you.

    NYC this year.

    it’s finally happening.

    details to come.



  • David Parkinson

    I always have the same problem with weekend long runs which is funny because during the week I can get out the door for a run no problem. I think the secret is to make afternoon plans so you have to get your long run started by a certain time. It’s like have someone light a fire under you.

  • Pingback: Wants vs. Needs | The Runner's Kitchen()

  • Love those foods, thanks for sharing this to us. Looking forward for more updates,such a great post. It gives us more motivations in preparing for a long run, Congratulations for a great job well done.