The long run ain't easy.
Rightly so, it should have some level of difficulty to it. After all, the long run commands a long distance, often times a longer distance than previously (recently) run.
It can be both exciting and stressful. It can be downright defeating. It also can be ever-so-empowering.
More often than not, one doesn't know how a long run will play out...until it's actually happening. The best we can do is to prepare for it...
Here are a few strategies that help me prepare for a long run:
First off, it gives me peace of mind (and some semblance of control) to lay it all out. By that, I mean lay out my outfit (and all necessary gear) the night before. Similar to a Race Day Preview, having everything all ready before I go to bed ensures a lot less stress the next morning. It gives me a chance to think (and re-think) the weather forecast, have the favorite shoes in sight, and all accessories in place.
Secondly, I try to keep things in perspective. A long run is not the end-all of my fitness. In reality, it is but a fraction of my day, and a smaller fraction of my weekend. Those miles are an even smaller percentage of all miles run within a training cycle. The long run miles are important, no doubt, but should things go south (on one particular run), all will not be lost. Besides, there will probably another long run, lurking, the following weekend.
Another thing to think about - these long runs, ultimately, are a choice. Most of us aren't getting paid to run them, after all. Myself, I'm pretty grateful I have the grit and determination, and the stamina, to log all those long miles. Even though my body may grow weary towards the end, I've done many long runs before...and I've survived every one of them.
Don't forget, there is an end prize! Whether it's the finish line of a long-awaited race or just the satisfaction of having endured a tough training cycle, there will be an eventual reward.
Finally, if all else fails, you can focus on the post-run celebration. A long run earns a recovery period, as well as rehydrating, refueling and rest.
I have often said that I wish it was possible to just run a marathon, without needing to do all the (necessary) training (yeah, in a fantasy world LOL). In my experience, the race never seems as tough as the training (which, in NO WAY implies a marathon, or any race of any distance, is an easy feat). Several long runs, over the course of several weeks (and months) are hard on the body. But, all those long runs strengthen your body, your endurance, and your mental strength. Toeing a start line can be intimidating, but knowing you've done several long-mileage runs will give your confidence a boost.