Whether you're training for a race or are finally at the start line, when you've got a long run ahead of you, you need a strategy to tackle it.
Take your pick from these three ways to make every long run a success.
Take it slow: Go on — enjoy your run. Taking it slow is a smart strategy even if you are training for a marathon, since long runs, no matter what the pace, prepare your body for the feeling of running for so many hours while increasing your stamina. "The purpose of the long run is obviously to run long! Don't try to race yourself and attempt to figure out what you can possibly run for the race distance," says running coach and Sports Club/LA trainer Ben Hwa. "Build endurance and learn what running (or being on your feet for that matter) for the duration feels like." If you're trying to improve your time, you can focus on your pace during shorter tempo and sprinting runs, he says.
Do a negative split: The last thing you want to do is hit the wall when you're in the middle of your run, so doing a negative split is a smart way to conserve energy while still running for time. Negative splits also help your body warm up safely and help you recover after your run quicker. To do negative splits, run at a slower pace during the first half of your run, and then pick up speed for the latter half. Read more reasons to do negative splits and strategies to do them here.
Walk-run-walk: Called the Galloway method after Olympian Jeff Galloway, who popularized it, mixing running intervals with walking breaks can actually help you have a faster time overall, because incorporating walking breaks into your long run helps you prevent leg fatigue by distributing effort across all muscles. Walk breaks can also help you recover from your long run faster, which is especially important if you need to fit in several runs a week. Many people plan for a simple ratio during their runs, like running for four minutes and walking for one; learn more walk-run techniques here.