How do you mentally break down the mileage?

I am running vmlm14 and now that the mileage has increase I get really overwhelmed when I have to do a long run. How do you break it down so it doesn't seem so bad? When I did 19m this week I always run out and back, so I am just aiming for 9.5m Then I try to cheer myself up that I am homeward bound, but miles 14-18 felt very hard.




  • I have no problems on my long runs but when I've done a marathon I started counting down from mile 16. I prefer the number going down than up.
  • I count the miles going up to half of the distance but as fractions eg when I ran 14 miles two miles was 1/7 which somehow sounds more. After half way I count down with the words 'it's only.... and you know you can run that'

  • Just don't pay attention to the distance at all. Just run. Make it fun, choose a new route go by bus or train to the start and run back to your home etc. Sometimes when I don't run with the dog (on the really long distances I ususally run a stretch without her) I listen to an audiobook. That way you hear everything around you (birds, cars etc) but have some distraction as well.

    Happy running

  • I am training for the Paris marathon and I try not to count the miles at all and just concentrate on one foot in front of another.  Then after half way just think that I am on my way home, if I am struggling I set myself landmarks to get to.  Also making the run interesting for me really helps, so running somewhere different or really pretty.




  • Try to think that you are not running 14 miles but simply that you are running 1 mile 14 times. At the end of each mile you're just going on another 1 mile run.

    Another trick is, when you increase mileage you imagine you're adding the extra miles to the beginning of the run and not the end of it.

  • Just run to somewhere - perhaps where you can have a shower and then a pub lunch? Always a nice thing to look forward to at the end of a long Sunday effort!!

    Or get driven out somewhere, dumped out the car and then run back home.

  • 6miles, 13miles, 20miles, Finish.

  • break it into smaller chunks. I sometimes allow myself a jelly baby every 15 minutes so I only ever have to count to 15. Or plan your water stops so that you're aiming for them?

    On the day itself, I just look foward to the end of each mile (I time each mile as a lap on my watch) and so I am always just counting down a 10 minute segment rather than thinking about it as a 4.5 hour run.


  • Try reading Scott Jurek's book 'Eat and Run' he runs 100 miles+

    To me running this sort of distance is mind boggling, but after reading his book running 26 miles seems like a long warm up image

    But, from his book, he says that you take the race one step at a time; if you start thinking about how far you have to go you will never start!

    Think about why you are running, think about the sense of achievement you will have at the end of the race.

    When I run, I count my strides, 1 to 10 either on my left or right  foot, the scenery goes past, maybe I am lucky because my scenery is Exmoor image But this is bliss to me imageimage

  • Only very occasionally do I get bored or impatient.

    If I do, I tend to think in terms of time rather than miles.  I think my brain computes better if I take it "half-an-hour at a time" rather than X Miles at a time.

  • 5,10,15, you can finish this with your eyes closed !! Thats my mantra , used to train somewhere scenic but now tend to use town as a distraction tool , plenty of noise I find helps. I did 10 miles of circuits round my sons rugby club last night simply because it was so busy and noisyimage I have also used Simons idea , dumped 20 miles from a destination and ran on new roads with new challenges its always good because your too busy navigating to count image Hope this helps ,best of luck !!

  • Chicken breaking it down helps.

    If you can use the time to think through stuff and destract yourself. I quite often start singing to myself in my head when I'm on my own. To maximum embarisment when I turn the corner and find there is some old couple hearing me sing Machinehead or the fun loving crimimal's to myself.

  • One of my friends suggested that you play a single player version of "Eye Spy".  Start with spotting something, anything beginning with the letter a, when you have completed a letter move on to the next in the alphabet, q, x and z are quite challenging (thank goodness for the Citroen Xsara!).  I found this helped me a lot.

  • Great question! And a pretty hard one to answer!

    I'm training for a marathon in May and am finding the long runs really hard. But once I'm say 7-8 miles into it, I feel great and often find myself thinking what's so bad about it, I try and make a mental note to remember that feeling the next time I'm in the office thinking about (and dreading) the evenings long run.

    The problem is we often forget the good feelings about running and only recall the aches and pains we get during the first few miles (when your body is lying to you ha).

    I've found the run out and back method to be the best. I'm up to 13 miles so I just go our for 6.5 and back again. The routes were getting a bit boring so I decided last night to try running circuits of 2.5 miles and try 6 of them. Big mistake, I was bored after the 2nd circuit and feeling more tired, same scenery and too close to home. The temptation to stop its too much.

    From now on I will always run out and back. Plus as others have said, you get a good buzz when you reach the farthest point and turn back. Its a big psychological boost knowing your are on the home stretch.

  • skottyskotty ✭✭✭

    I always work in km and for some reason it seems to work for me, even though there are more of them.

    it started off being natural when aiming to try 5km then 10k then I was just roughly doubling it for half marathon. Haven't tried 42km though.

    I always think a mile seems a long way.

  • I took part in a  24 hour track ultra last year  where I'd hoped to cover at least 4 marathons .  The first couple of marathons seemed to pass without having to think too much about it but the third one took all my will-power to crack.   Once I'd started on the last one I had to resort to some night music ( sorry anti-i-pod brigade image) which seemed to do the trick.   Then once the Sun came up and I started making headway into my fourth marathon  I started doing mental arithmetic in my head, trying to calculate how many laps I needed to do to reach my target.   

    I have a mantra which goes " All time is now, the beginning is the middle is the end "

    Then I visualize myself sitting down with my family having tea and cake. Loads of cake.    image    




  • I have never come up with a mantra that I didn't zone out of after about 15 minutes so I was not only not distracted from the running and not focused on the mantra but bored to buggery as well.

    Guess I need to practice this mindfulness thing a bit more...image

  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭
    Doing mental arithmetic works a treat for me - what percentage of the distance have I completed, what percentage is that of a different distance race, converting the distance into km/miles and back again, how many Parkruns have I got left, etc.
  • After a certain distance if it gets hard I dedicate each mile to someone.....if I find it difficult anytime during that mile i focus my mind on that person.try and remember my favourite times with them,  when i met them.,...when we last met....why i like them etc.......i lose focus but can go back to it if i need.

     new mile new personimage

  • Many thanks, I will try some of these ideas out. i think I lost a lot of confidence at the weekend, when I found the 19m so hard going.

  • i run marathons in km and for some reason find that easier as they pass quicker!  i normally focus on 10km markers so 10km (quarter of the way there) 20km, (half way there), 30km (almost there) then i count down the last 10km to 40km and consider this my 'cool down' with a 2km sprint finish added on at the end! 

    sounds weird but works for me!!  image

  • skottyskotty ✭✭✭
    seren nos wrote (see)

    After a certain distance if it gets hard I dedicate each mile to someone.....if I find it difficult anytime during that mile i focus my mind on that person.try and remember my favourite times with them,  when i met them.,...when we last met....why i like them etc.......i lose focus but can go back to it if i need.

     new mile new personimage

    I've not had so many.

    I'd run out before the end.

  • I run the Marco method (you can google it). After a couple of km warmup the first third is run below intended average effort, the middle third is at average effort and the last third at above the intended average effort for the race. So the milestones coming up for a change of effort (14 km, 28 km) are easier to get your head round than the whole distance. In addition I think at 32 km that there's only another 10 km and tell myself anyone can run 10 km image

  • In a marathon pop a gel once every 5 miles for first 15 miles (5, 10 and 15mile marks) and then pop a gel at 19 and 23 mile marks to get in those vital carbs to avoid fade over the last 10km of the marathon. The marathon does not really start until you have passed the 20 mile mark and then you have 10km left to run on tiring legs. 

    For mileage for  a marathon fit in as many miles your fitness level can tolerate over the 20 week+ build up. Run 4, 5 or 6 days per week to space out the runs. Loosely follow a plan. Plans can be annoying because they do not really state what paces you should run your training runs and they throw in terms like: "tempo", "lactate threshold", etc.

  • Get an ultra under your belt.  The 26.2 distance used to psyche me out but now I have covered 32 it will hopefully seem like a walk in the park   image 

  • When I'm on a really long training run, I have little "treats" planned for certain distances. So, I'll not start off the run listening to the podcast I have saved up (I always ensure I've got something saved like Marathon Talk or Talk Ultra) but allow myself to start listening after four miles. Then I can have my first bit of drink at mile five, followed by my first gel or blok at mile six. I then keep doing that through the run, allowing myself a bit of drink every couple of miles and a gel or something every four miles. Then, for the last couple of miles, the earphones come out and I enjoy the peace and quiet.

  • Chicken,

    You might of just had a bad day - I ran 20 miles last week and found it really, really tough mentally especially at 15 miles. Today I ran 20 miles and really enjoyed it, as soon as I hit 10 miles I thought great I'm half way, then at 11 miles, great only 9 to go etc. I gave myself little treats, gels @ 12 & 16 miles and jelly sweets at a 14 & 17 miles. 

    i also listen to marathon talk podcasts - they are brilliant, really keep you engrossed. on my long runs I download a couple so I don't run out -I get fed up of listening to music! 

  • seren nos wrote (see)

    After a certain distance if it gets hard I dedicate each mile to someone.....if I find it difficult anytime during that mile i focus my mind on that person.try and remember my favourite times with them,  when i met them.,...when we last met....why i like them etc.......i lose focus but can go back to it if i need.

     new mile new personimage


    That's a great one Seren!. I'll defo use that to refocus my mind and efforts when doing the hard yards.


  • Some great ideas here!

    I normally go with 30 minute chunks  as that's when I have my gels too, also doing some mental maths helps - my running watch tells me my previous km speed so I can try to figure out how long the run will take me if I carry on at the same speed etc.

    If you can find a running buddy to join you for part of the route then that really helps, I had to do a 2hr 50 minute run the other day, but I had a friend run with me for the first 90 mins so then I only have 80 mins to run by myself.

    Also - go exploring! Nothing worse than going round the same routes all the time - try a point-to-point run if you can get a lift or get the train home! So much better than out-and-back. image

    Good luck!

  • Never think about the whole thing!
    if you know the route, just think of it in sections with landmarks and just run each section at a time.
    if you dont know the route, eg in an unfamiliar race, do 5k at a time.

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