The 9 Stages Of The Long Run

For those of us who enjoy the glory of the long run, we also tend to experience a few different things throughout our run. From glee to pure anxiety, here are the nine stages of the long run.

1. Dread/Panic

Before starting the long run, you go through your pre-run checklist. Did you do everything you needed to? Are you fueled properly? Hydrated and rested enough?

Some days you may feel dread – the last thing you want to do is run for a long, long time. You start trying to rationalize not running. Maybe you should take a rest day today; I mean that knee has been kind of sore.

Other days you may feel a panic caused by the anticipation of the long run. You are feeling good, but you are also feeling some doubt. You know you’ve run long before, but this time, maybe you can’t do it. Anxiety creeps in.

2. Excitement

So you got your shoes on, you geared up, and you are on the road. Everything feels fresh and new. The weather is either good or bad, but you don’t care. You are going out to conquer the world today.

3. Depression

You are close to halfway there, and that’s when the depression sets in. You will never be done running. Thoughts of finishing early start entering your traitorous brain. Maybe you should just call it a day, dial your partner or friend, have them pick you up and take you to the nearest couch. 

Although most of the time, you suck it up and keep going. Because really, you are almost halfway there.

4. Glee 

Oh, the sheer joy of that halfway point. I don’t think I am the only person that sees the halfway mark as an achievement of great importance and moral boosting ability. Thinking that I have less than what I’ve already done left to go is always the best part of any of my runs. It’s when I feel the absolute best and most positive.

5. Exhaustion

And then soon after that, the exhaustion sets in. The feet made out of stone and legs made out of rubber kind of exhaustion.

You start dreaming about your couch, and a beer and watching that movie you’ve meant to watch on Netflix.

6. Hunger

This stage is my favorite. I stop feeling quite so tired and start feeling all the hungries. My mind is now completely occupied by thoughts of food. Hot food, cold food, solid food, liquid food, exotic food, common food – I am thinking of them all. And sometimes I come up with interesting combinations – like I really want biscuits and gravy, but also sushi and Greek yogurt with granola. Not just any granola, but vanilla almond granola. 

It doesn’t matter if I’ve taken in enough fuel during my run or not, I think about food. 

If only every long run ended at a restaurant.

7. Things are hurting

Near the end of every long run, I start noticing aches and pains. My mind has had about all it can handle of my silliness, and it starts telling me all kinds of annoying things about how tight my hamstrings are, and that I have a toe rubbing against something, and perhaps a hot spot working on the bottom of my foot. 

It’s this stage of my long run when I try to pull my posture back together, lighten my foot strikes and tell my brain to shove it. Sometimes I’m too far gone to run tall and land lightly, but not always, and it’s always worth a shot.

8. So close, so tired

Exhaustion at this point takes on a new level. The feet are harder to pick up, the head is down and the shoulders may be slumped. You are so close, and yet that last mile or could be another 20 miles for how long it is taking.

Now the thought of a hot bath and nap seem way more appealing than the couch and a movie. 

9. Done!

But then you are finally done, and you feel like a glorious human. Look at you and your endurance! You just did something most people can’t do. 

Strut around the house, post your workout on social – if that’s your thing, eat a big meal, rehydrate, and feel proud.

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About Liz Ward 101 Articles
Liz Ward is a running fanatic, avid reader, and amateur farmer. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband, three kids, and a small herd of animals.