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Q&A: How to Stay Strong on Long Runs

I feel great for the first couple of hours on my long runs, but then I fade and really struggle to finish. What am I doing wrong?


If you’re running out of energy during your long runs, a few things could be going wrong in your training—including overtraining, poor nutrition, and pacing issues. Don't worry, though; all of these things can be solved so race day feels great!

If you notice that your times are slowing although you’re increasing mileage and working super-hard, or that you have a general sense of fatigue and are unable to finish your runs, you may be overtraining. Your body requires rest and sleep to recover and improve. If this sounds like you, don't be afraid to take a day off!

Nutrition prior to and during your run can play a huge role in how your body uses its fuel—and in how you feel and perform. Filling the tank with enough carbohydrates prior to your run, and continually fueling during the run, can help keep you on track for a successful finish.

Pacing yourself on long runs is important to ensure that you have enough strength to make it to the finish strong. As you continue to build mileage for your upcoming marathon, log the pace on your daily runs. This will help you to determine a realistic and manageable pace that can be sustained for the marathon. Remember that the pace of a five-mile run is not going to be the same pace as your marathon. Make sure to set a pace early on that you can maintain throughout the distance.

Hopefully these tips can get you through those last few miles. Inspiration can help, too, so throw on some good tunes, and come up with a great motivational phrase that will get you pumped up!


Leigh-Ann Plack

Leigh-Ann Plack, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist with Hospital for Special Surgery’s rehabilitation department. She received her doctorate in physical therapy at Northeastern University. Her clinical interests include gait mechanics and running injuries. She is currently working on her doctorate in education in applied physiology at Columbia University. 

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