Tough Long Run Recap + Friday Link Love

I feel like every training cycle there’s that one especially crazy hard run – the one that feels way worse than all the others. The one that has you basically crawling the last couple miles. The one that makes you ask yourself: “why the hell am I doing this again?!”

You guys know I try to keep things positive over here because I’m a big believer in cultivating gratitude, and on trying to spread joy to others, even in a small way. But I also aim to keep it real, and, well, this morning I had that run. 18 miles and it was one of the hardest long runs I’ve ever done.

dark morning run dc view

I’m trying to remind myself that I’m not a terrible runner nor will I be unprepared for the Marine Corps Marathon – it’s just that not every run can be an amazing one, especially when it’s as hot and humid out as it was this morning. I’m proud I pushed through and finished it because it was seriously not easy.

My friend Sokphal was up for doing a few really early miles with me, so we met up at 6 a.m. in the dark. It was one of those mornings that DC summers are known for – the humidity felt oppressive and the temperature was already high, even that early. The second I stepped out of my car I started sweating. Yikes – this was not going to be easy. Dark morning selfie for your viewing pleasure – yep, we’re already sweating just standing there:


Sokphal and I did about 5.5 miles together and the chatting helped keep me distracted from the fact that the running felt tough. I hadn’t been out running near the monuments this early in ages – they looked so pretty with the morning haze as the sun rose, although sadly we didn’t get a the beautiful sunrise we were hoping for thanks to low clouds.

early morning dc run reflecting pool

lincoln memorial early morning run view

By the time we got back to my car parked outside her place after 5.5 miles and said goodbye, I was seriously considering just bagging the long run entirely because I was already so hot and tired. But I knew I was already skipping my long run (or at least doing a MUCH shorter one) next week due to travel, so I pushed myself to keep going. I could do this, it just wasn’t going to be easy: 12.5 more solo miles to go. Yikes. You guys know I have a hard time running by myself to begin with (I’m very much a social runner), and doing so many miles in such hot weather by myself I knew was going to be a pretty serious challenge.

To get myself through this run, I did a couple things: first, I ran on the Mt. Vernon Trail so I’d have nice views to help distract me and lift my spirits. This trail isn’t all that shaded so I knew it would be hot once the sun was fully up, but I still went for it because I know pretty views always makes runs happier for me.

morning run mount vernon trail monument view

The other thing I did to make it through this run was a TON of breaks. I stopped every 1 to 2 miles to stretch and give myself a quick breather. This meant I was out there for ages, but it also was the only way I could convince myself to keep going because it broke up the run. I also did an out and back so I kept telling myself “Okay, only xx miles until I get to turn back.” That always helps, too. So did music – I listened to Pandora (“Wagon Wheel” fun country pop station) for the first 6 miles of my solo adventure and then listened to “Daring Greatly” on audible for my second 6 miles when I got tired of music.

mount vernon trail long run

By the time I was (finally) only a few miles away from finishing out the 18 the sun was fully up and super intense. It was so hot – and every time I stopped I had this super annoying black fly that bit my legs (unclear if it was the same fly following me for the journey or whether they were everywhere – but it was not cool). I wanted to quit and stop so badly but I kept taking short breaks and just telling myself I only had a little longer to go before I could take another break. Maybe it’s a good thing the fly attacked me when I stopped – made me not stop for good! Perhaps he was encouraging me… :)

mount vernon trail alexandria long run

And then, finally – my watch hit 18. Hallelujah. When I was actually running, I averaged an overall pace of 9:41 for just under 3 hours total – but I was out there for nearly 4 hours thanks to a billion untimed breaks. I was lucky I had the flexibility this morning to start my workday a bit later because I don’t think I could have finished any faster.


I was so excited to get back to the car and drink a ton of water – I ran out of water (I had nearly 2 liters in my hydration vest but finished it) around mile 16 and was SO THIRSTY by the time I finished thanks to the beating sun. Fall – I’m begging you to please make your debut. We need you!!

In terms of fuel, I did my usual combo of margarita shot bloks (2) and nut butter stuffed salty dates (4). I wore my compression sleeves again, too, so my leg didn’t bother me which was nice, although everything was basically aching after being out there for so long. Also worth mentioning: no more ibuprofen before running for me – thanks for the heads up guys! See this article for why: What Runners Should Know About Pain Medications.

I raced home (no time for an ice bath, but I’m hoping to take an epsom salt bath tonight) and ate a quick meal before getting my workday started. On the menu: some leftover salmon brown rice cakes (recipe coming soon) with two fried eggs, avocado, wilted spinach, and salsa. Plus a homemade mocha – espresso from our Nespresso machine + whole milk + some chocolate Organic Fuel (love that stuff – they sent me some more samples recently but we buy it often too).

post-run refuel meal

Zara kept me company/kept an eye on me while I ate. :) She always needs to be nearby and see what I’m up to! Too funny. Also, I’m so behind on my magazine/newspaper reading – I’ve amassed quite the pile!

cat watching me eat

After refueling it was on to the workday! I had some calls this morning and now I’m working from a coffee shop in between AnneTheRD in person client sessions.

In exciting news, the reason I had to get in my long run early again (and why I’m likely just doing a series of shorter/regular distance runs next week vs. a long run, because I think getting in a long run would add more stress than it would give me training benefit) is because Matt and I leave for HAWAII tomorrow morning!! I know, we’ve been doing a LOT of travel this year but we figure there’s no point in him accruing vacation time if we don’t use it. :) This is a part play part work trip for me – I’m doing a couple nutrition presentations/talks next weekend at a wellness event our hotel in Maui is hosting. They actually invited me out for the event last year (they found me via my AnneTheRD website) but we weren’t able to get the time away, so we’ve had this trip on the calendar for over a year – so excited it’s finally here! I’m doing one presentation on Nutrition for Runners and one on How to Get Rid of Sugar Cravings + building balanced, satisfying meals that are fast (like How to Make a Quick & Healthy Weeknight Dinner). I have a bunch of nutrition tip/recipe handouts created to hand out at the events and I’ll also be sharing samples of my Homemade Citrus Sport Drink at the Nutrition for Runners session. Should be fun! I always get nervous for presentations but hopefully I’m prepared. :)

The first part of the week will be dedicated to fun adventures, though, before I need to get my work on – so if you have any tips for things to do in Maui, we’d love to hear them! We’ve never been to Hawaii before and are looking forward to hopefully doing a scuba dive while there (any tips on the best one? we’re both certified divers), doing some runs and hikes, going surfing, and relaxing of course! I’ll be sharing pictures on Instagram as usual if you want to see what we’re up to before I post the trip recaps. And stay tuned because I will still be blogging next week, too – I have posts scheduled/pre-written for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and will pop in later on in the week with a Hawaii snapshot as well.

Time to finish out the workday and pack up for the trip. Have a great weekend, my friends!

What’s the hardest run you’ve ever done? The LA Marathon is pretty high up there on my list of super challenging runs, although I did a better job in that race staying positive than I did this morning. Clearly hot weather is my kryptonite though – I’d always take freezing running over really hot running. Fingers crossed for good/cold weather for Marine Corps Marathon!

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  1. 1

    Ummm I loved that blog post “5 reasons you’re not addicted to sugar”!!! Such good words :) love your blog and others like it that promote these views on eating

  2. 3

    It’s kind of encouraging to me to hear that you are feeling the DC-area weather, too! I have a 12-miler for tomorrow, and I’m probably going to have to do it in the afternoon. Ugh. Lots and lots of breaks! Have fun on the trip!

  3. 5

    So inspired by this recap! I’ve not done a marathon but it’s on my bucket list. Nice to hear people be REAL about how it’s not all flowers and rainbows and there are some TOUGH training runs along the way! Plus all those nutrition presentations in Hawaii sound awesome- I know you’ll so great! Focus on channeling your passion for why you love what you do and how exciting it is to get to share that with people. Good luck to you- I’m excited to keep up via Instagram!

  4. 7

    I am with you on all counts about running in the heat! I live in the DC area too and it was especially bad this morning (and I didn’t even run)
    I’m running the Patriot Run 10k at Mt. Vernon this on Sunday and thankfully it’s supposed to be in 60s in the morning. Fingers crossed the forecast remains the same or gets better!

    This summer I’ve been trying to stay positive when running in the heat and I think I’ve come a long way. Buttttttt I’m definitely counting down the days till fall/winter. :)

    • 8

      I’m usually okay at fostering that positivity while running but I think so many of these crazy hot training runs have really sapped my reserves. :) Sunday should be lovely – good luck and have fun!

  5. 9

    Since you guys like hiking, you may want to consider one of the guided tours that take you up to the waterfalls where you get to jump off the cliff into the cool waters below. Luaus are always fun. Also horseback riding through the pineapple fields was memorable. BTW. MauI has the sweetest most juiciest pineapple ever. Mostly though I enjoyed swimming in the pool and of course snorkeling at black rock.

    • 10

      Oooo waterfall hiking and swimming sounds amazing! Will look into that. Love horseback riding too – and pineapple! Thanks for the tips!

  6. 11

    Nice job on the run!! Have a blast in Hawaii!! Ive been to Oahu and it’s beautiful!

  7. 12

    great job on finishing it!!! mental strength is really the key!
    I didn’t run this morning because i”m tapering, but I can imagine how humid and hot was.

  8. 13

    Have a blast in Maui — it’s stunning!!

  9. 14

    Thank you for sharing this! I have definitely have had some horrible awful tough long runs and it’s easy to feel terrible after them – but no, you are definitely not a bad runner! I am thinking of an epsom salt bath tonight too, they’re the best. Have a fantastic time in Hawaii, what a beautiful place to do seminars!

  10. 15

    My hardest run: tahoe marathon after training for six grueling months (way too long!)

    Maui: haven’t been to that island yet, but I suggest lots of fresh mango and many sunset walks on the beach your hubby.

    Your 18miler: That’s The Stuff!! You did it, the Worst Run Ever is over…October will be cool, and you will be surrounded by some of our nation’s finest warriors. Count yourself an honorary member on that day and know that each one of them fought so you could run. Including those that didn’t make it home.


    • 16

      Wow, 6 months of training is a lot! And hooray for October weather – and for being among such inspiring people during the race. I can’t wait to be out there with them!

  11. 17

    Way to persevere on that run! I had a fly chasing me on the run portion of a triathlon last weekend and it was so annoying! I was so worried it was going to bite me I finally sprinted a bit and was able to lose it!

  12. 19

    Highly recommend Mama’s Fish House. The fish is so fresh and amazing. We also did a sunrise and bike ride down MT. Haleakala which terrified me but my husband loved.

    • 20

      We’ve been hearing a lot about the sunrise bike ride – definitely on the list! I bet I’ll be terrified too – steep downhill on bikes is scary. :) Matt loves it though!

  13. 21

    “Maybe it’s a good thing the fly attacked me when I stopped – made me not stop for good! Perhaps he was encouraging me… :)” see you can be positive! ;) i admire that you pushed through SUCH a hard run!! do you have a post or link on the benefits of epsom salt baths?
    as for maui– have fun!! the fruit is absolutely AMAZING! it’s summer, so i’m pretty sure it is hot & dry now (where as in the winter, when i wwent, it was warm & humid). also go to a luau!! but research them first. we went to one, and it was pretty meh (judging because my dad had been before). and definitely go ziplining :)

  14. 23

    You are such an encouragement and just plain awesome! I can’t imagine running 18 miles let alone half that! You inspire me daily and I hope you enjoy Hawaii with your hubby!

  15. 25

    good. work. those runs are the toughest, but also the most rewarding. It’s been beastly with the humidity!!

  16. 26

    I totally agree with you regarding the hot weather runs. I typically just stop running in the summer but made the decision to train for a marathon this year. I notice an enormous difference in my pace depending on the temperate 1-1:30 minutes per mile and it can be frustrating. It’s amazing how hard only a few miles can feel in the humidity when you know you’re fit enough and have been running much longer distances. For instance, this morning I did a Crossfit Endurance workout with 3.5 miles of running in it and somehow it felt MUCH harder than the 15 mile run I did a few weeks. I really hate treadmills but I’ve personally considered doing some runs on the treadmill for the comfort factor. Something to consider! Hang in there! Thanks for keeping it real :)

    • 27

      I know, I usually dial down running in the summer but clearly couldn’t this year with MCM looming! So rough. I think I’d still probably rather suffer through the heat vs. a treadmill… but something to keep in mind. I think fall is almost here – hopefully we are through the worst of it! :)

  17. 28

    ** a few weeks ago

  18. 29

    Great recap! My hubby and I ran MCM in ’08 and it was the best race experience ever! We also just moved back from Oahu last summer. Try to snorkel Molokini crater if you can. And someday try the Honolulu Marathon – beautiful views and malasadas at the end!

  19. 30

    Maybe it’s just me, but I actually find these kind of posts the most inspiring. I think the tendency to feel alone when things aren’t so great is just part of the human condition, so it makes me feel less alone (and therefore less like it’s all my fault/a personal failure) to see when other people really struggle with something. It’s just like they say about social media – watching curated “perfect” lives makes us depressed. So seeing the struggle once in a while pierces that veil in a way that’s actually more positive than an absence of negativity.
    So what I’m saying is: the heat and humidity where I’m at have been unbearable too, and I’m totally relieved to hear other people struggle as much as I do muahahahaha ;)

    • 31

      Thanks, Jennifer! This heat and humidity is definitely unbearable for everyone, apparently, not just me – or you! Hang in there – fall has to be here soon. :)

  20. 32

    I’m finally getting into what might be considered “long run” territory in my half marathon training. I did 8.74mi last weekend and felt like a goddess – I felt so strong the entire time, and probably could’ve kept going for another mile or two but didn’t want to mess up my training plan (I was only scheduled for 8mi). Then I did 9mi yesterday and wanted to die every step of the way. It was hot, it was humid, my hip started hurting 1.5mi in, and I took lots of walk breaks. Even with a running buddy who motivates me, it was just… blah. Not a good run. I’m pretty sure I dropped 5-10 F-bombs per mile. But I still feel thankful that I got out there and did it. I mean… none of my friends or family run, so when I can say “I ran nine miles today” I feel pretty badass. :)

  21. 34

    Way to tough it out, Anne. Impressive. Nothing grinds a runner down like the extraordinary heat and humidity that hit the east coast this past well. Well done!

  22. 35

    You are a champion Anne! Good job making yourself get through the miles! Those tough runs always make the others seem so much better though, so I bet your next long run will feel like a breeze :)
    I raced in a 14km this weekend and surprised myself. I haven’t been feeling the long runs lately, but yesterday morning I got out and did a great time that I hadn’t expected to see. Even though it’s only just spring here the Brisbane weather was out in full force. Luckily we were all over and done by 8 am! I hope you have a great time in Hawaii! I can’t wait to read your recap and live vicariously through your Instagram pictures while I’m stuck in my cubicle :)

  23. 37

    Great job powering through! HAVE FUN IN HAWAII!!!! :D Jealous!

  24. 38

    I have had multiple runs like the one you just described. Hoping that as soon as the weather eases up things will get easier.

  25. 39

    Hawaii is the best. We stayed at the Hyatt there and there was a great trail you could walk/run. Our hotel spa was also wonderful. You must go to Mama’s fish house! It’s not to be missed and soooo good!!! We went diving in maui as well and it was wonderful. We did our diving through the dive shop in lahaina. Lahaina Grill, and Marriman’s Maui. Star Noodle too. Look them up!
    Have fun

  26. 41
    Amanda Schreiber says

    I’m also training for the MCM (I commented on a post not long ago about seeing you on the CCT!) and I can totally relate to this kind of run. In fact, I hit a point a couple of weeks ago where I was just agonizing over my upcoming long run in the heat (the same weekend as this post). I complained to anyone who asked me about it that I felt like I had never NOT been training for this race and I was even avoiding/dreading my shorter runs during the week. I finally relaxed about it and just allowed myself to skip it and make sleep a priority that weekend. Now, it’s finally starting to cool down and I had an excellent 18 mile run this past weekend. It has impacted me in a huge way mentally, knowing that I can definitely run this race and feeling stronger and more confident on all of my runs. Now, just another 16 and 19-miler, then it’s all tapering from there. We’re so close!

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