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12 Tips to Get You Through Your Long Run When You’re Seriously Struggling

On the days you just want to pack it in after the second mile, these tips from readers can help you power through.

tired woman runner taking a rest after running hard
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If you are training for a marathon or a half, long runs are inevitable. They come around once a week whether you are ready or not, and some days it’s easier than others to get those miles done.

We’ve all had days when the struggle is real, and you’re tempted to pack it in by the time you hit the second mile. Sometimes, you want to quit, but before you cut your run short, you may just need a reminder why you’re up at dawn pounding the pavement or finishing your miles while the midday heat is scorching. You may just need inspiration to shift your mindset.

We asked our readers via Instagram what they do when their long run starts feeling way too long, and what they do to power through. These tips can help you crush your long run when the going gets tough long before the miles are over.

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Be Thankful
Running towards a healthier and happier lifestyle
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“THE GRATITUDE MILE! Once I hit a wall, I spend the next mile focusing on the things I am grateful for. ‘I am grateful for this beautiful view, I am grateful for the sidewalk, I am grateful for the sun, I am grateful for my legs and even though they hurt, I know I can do this, etc.’ By the time the mile ends, the wall has been lifted and I continue on.” —justyourmemery

“Think about all the people that can’t do it, and wish they could. Do it for them”—lorifthomp

“Remember why you are running. Remember you are lucky to run. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and embrace the run.” —deannall23

[Want to start running? The Big Book of Running for Beginners will take you through everything you need to know to get started, step by step.]

Celebrate the Little Things
Running team, running under bridge, New York, USA
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“To all the people scoffing, everyone has a mental block early on in a run at some point, where the distance ahead of you is daunting and your mind wants you to stop moving ahead. Microgoals for the run are great. Celebrate tiny accomplishments throughout the run. Remind yourself you’ve done this before and you can do it again.” —mdeca07

“I look around at the scenery and feel exhilarated by the beauty around me. That enough gets me reenergized. Or, I remember the year I had to take off running due to an injury and how much I yearned again to feel the freedom that is running.” —stephanie1671

Power Up Your Playlist
Sunrise Runner
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“Time your playlist for your favorite songs to start playing at that distance.” —gislas11

“I tell myself to run for two more songs, then when that’s up, okay, run for three more songs, etc.!!!” —emdino_whiston

“Audiobooks. I start listening to an audiobook that takes place somewhere far away, often fictional, and where the characters are facing something much darker and hard than I am. (I mean, if Katniss can put with with Peeta and Gale whining, I can make it through my miles.”—thatoceanstategirl

Set Attainable Goals
Young woman running in urban setting
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“I give myself microgoals: ‘Just run for two more minute,’ or ‘Just a quarter-mile more.’ Accomplishing and re-setting microgoals can help me get through 7–10 miles I wouldn’t have otherwise completed.” —bekahfit

“Make small goals—reach that tree and the next lamppost, etc. You’ll suddenly be at mile 5 without even noticing, and the rest of the run will breeze by.” —freckled_jacquie

“Break it up into smaller, digestible increments. One mile at a time works for me when I hit that wall.”—dbenson05

Remember It Gets Better
Man running on grassy hillside
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“I know after mile 2–3 that my body goes into autopilot and that’s when it starts to get easier! Now whenever I run I can’t wait to get past mile 2–3 because that’s when I really get into a groove! Just keep pushing.” —sikundermalik

“The first 3 miles of my runs always suck! I feel slow as hell and my body doesn’t want to move. Then around mile 4 I settle in, find my rhythm and remind myself how great it feels to be in my body, focus on my breath, get a good jam on and celebrate how strong I am—mentally and physically.”—heatherdawn558

Focus on the Small Stuff
Teenage girl jogging in city park
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“I choose markers that aren’t too far away and make them small accomplishments. So if I’m running and I feel stuck, I’ll think ‘Just run to that lamppost’ and then ‘Maybe get to that trash can.’ I continue like that. Until my body just keeps moving automatically. It breaks the distance down so it doesn’t feel overwhelming and accomplishing those small victories can really change your mindset on the run.” –adriana_sofia

“I try to break the run down into bite-sized pieces that are easier to tackle. If I’m listening to music (I usually am), I’ll tell myself to run until the song ends and then check in with myself. How’s my breathing? How do my legs feel? By the time I’ve done that, I’m halfway through the next song and figure I might as well keep going until that one ends, too. I’ve logged quite a few miles that way.”—runforcupcakes

Take Your Mind Off the Task
Mature man running along waterfront, New York, USA
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“Relax, focus on your surroundings. A tip that worked a lot for me on long 20+ mile runs is when your mind starts telling you that it wants to stop, change focus, start counting your steps, try to get as far as you can and then count again. Play that little game so your focus goes somewhere else.” —rfloresrm

“I slow the pace substantially or walk and do my best to distract myself by focusing on what is going right. They’re not all going to be winners, but getting out there and trying is better than not even trying at all.”—krow515

Take Small Steps
Woman Running Against Wall
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“Slow down and take it one mile at a time. Don’t think too far ahead down the road.”—runstrong09

“Run the mile you are in. Don’t think ahead!” — vinyasalydia

“Don’t think about the number of miles you still need to do. Just take it one mile at a time. Before you know it, you realize that you’re already almost done.” —enteeveee

Just Breathe
Female running in the city
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“I focus on my breathing like I do when I’m in a tough yoga pose. After about a minute or so, I forget about quitting.” —soul_one_experience

“‘Just this km! You can do it for 100 breaths.’ Pep talk to self. Focusing on the breathing takes the mind off the feeling of giving up, and better breathing lifts you up by the time you complete 100 breaths (inhale + exhale).” —anamika703

“Slow down. Relax. Breath and enjoy the gentler pace and flow. Focus on nice technique until rhythm comes.” —sfm_films

Listen to Your Body
Woman running in park
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“Slow down, focus on breathing, and give it a couple more miles to settle in. Focus on how accomplished you will feel at the end and that pushing through when it feels tough is great mental training for race day. If it’s really not feeling good, give yourself a break and come back another day! Not even run can be a good run.” —Sarak.runs

“Settle into a more comfortable pace and remember that I *get* to be on this run. I’m lucky to have the time to do it and I’m lucky to have the body to do it.” —laitielike

“I honor my body and how it’s feeling in that moment. If it’s mental and physical exhaustion from a long week, I stop. If it’s just mental, I tell myself to go one more mile. The time allows me to relax into the run and find a groove.”—gabbyb1219

Use Mantra Motivation
Girl is runing on the city stairs and listening the music
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“Having a mantra that motivates you and keeps you in line with your goal. I feel like the first 1–2 miles are the hardest because you’re trying to get into the groove of the run, both physically and mentally. Having a mantra keeps me going and focused on my goal.” —kathleen_liebs

“I remind myself to smile and say ‘morning’ to everyone else that I meet out running that day. Because we all hit a wall at some point and we could all use a smile while we are working through it.”—volk0054

“I have running mantras, like ‘You are a badass’ or ‘I have this’ and ‘Keep swimming, keep swimming.’ But also, never believe the first two or three miles.”—tamaravanzyl

“Develop a mantra to remind yourself it’s temporary. I don’t know how may times I’ve felt like I’m gonna die at 2, but felt great at 10. If you can push through it, you’re golden.” —michelle_heart

Run With a Friend
Jogging with my best friend
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“We look over at our canine running companion who isn’t even panting yet!”—doggodashclub

“My motivation during a long run is having a running buddy! I am no good alone on a run. I usually run with groups, I’m a chatter. I have no idea how I would’ve made it through my first 20-miler without a friend to talk and keep me thinking of other things.”—geniemoyer

“Usually I run with people and they’re what motivate me. You can’t stop at mile 2 when you told your crew you were going to do 10, 12, or 16. You just gotta find it in you to get there and remind yourself you have before. And if you haven’t before, remind yourself that this is what you’ve been working toward.”—kelmkent

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