Tips & Techniques

How to Break Down Your Long Run

Megan Sloan 
February 15, 2024


I can picture it now. It's Friday night and you're about to retire early for the evening and you can't seem to turn your brain off. What seems to be nagging at you? You guessed it: Long Run Anxiety.


Many of us suffer from what I call, "Long Run Anxiety." It can be a daunting task knowing that you have to wake up in 8 hours to complete a 16 mile training run. Mentally, that can really wear on a person. I mean, it's a lot of time to be in your own thoughts! Here are my tips to help you mentally get through your long runs.


  1. Nutrition Breaks! If your run is over 45 minutes, you should be consuming nutrition throughout the entirety of your run. That said, it can be a good idea to mentally reset your mind after each nutrition stop. If you have an 8 mile run on the calendar and you know you'll need to stop for a gel at mile 4, breaking up your run into two, 4 mile runs can be a huge mental trick. It's also a sure fire way to make sure you remember to stay on top of your nutrition plan.
  2. Stick to the workout! If you have a workout scheduled within your long run, break down the run into workout segments. If you know you have to run 5x5 minutes at a specific pace with 2 minutes recovery, do it! This will help keep your mind focused while running. Think about it, if all you have to worry about is 5 minutes at a time, your run will fly by. (This is my personal favorite!)
  3. Plan your aid stations! If your run is long enough, you will either need to carry water or plan where you will find water. Local parks and community centers are typically a great place to stop if you need a planned water break. By breaking up your run, aid station to aid station, this will help you stay on top of hydration and break up the run into segments.
  4. Turn your run into a scavenger hunt!  Make a list of things to find on your run and do your best to find them. For example... Can you spot a yellow house, a Ford Escape, a family out for a walk, and a cardinal during your long run? If you run with friends, this can be a great time to put your heads together and come up with a creative scavenger hunt list.
  5. Use landmarks as a reward! If you are running a route that you are familiar with, break it up with intersections, stoplights, hills, schools, businesses, etc. Many times if I am really struggling through a run, I'll reward myself with a 30 second break after I reach a specific landmark. "Alright Megan, if you can make it to the grade school a half mile up the street, you're allowed to stop and rest for 30 seconds!" These little breaks can be great for you mentally and physically.


I hope these tips help leading into your next training cycle. And just remember, you CAN do it!

Meet the Author
Megan has been apart of the Smith Physical Therapy & Running Academy family since March of 2021, taking the title of Director Special Programs, Run Coach, and Running Technique Specialist. Megan has been coaching runners since 2014 and enjoys working with runners of all ages.
You were made to move!