The long run is a staple of a marathon training program. It builds your endurance so you are able to run and enjoy a 26.2-mile marathon.

Marathon training is like a person’s health in that it is different for everybody. Every runner needs to develop their training routine.

Marathon coach advice varies greatly. Some will advocate no more than a 20 mile run vs. some who feel you need to run the full 26 miles at least once during the training program. I’ve settled in-between with 22 miles being my longest run. Whatever works for you, do it.

The long run helps more than any other part of a running program. It is typically done once a week and for the average working guy, weekends work best when you have more leisure time.

My weekend long runs year-round are never less than 13.1 miles except for the week before the marathon when tapering down to be rested. Not coincidentally, it takes 13-14 miles to check out all the Wahpeton parks.

Long runs should not increase by more than 10 percent a week. My long runs increase a mile a week until 22 miles are reached. 13.1 miles are run a couple weeks before the marathon and only eight miles the weekend before to be fresh.

It is wise to walk before and after long runs. My routine for any run is to walk to the end of the block and back to the driveway. It loosens you up and combats cramping after finished.

Self-discipline and the mental benefits are great. There is always a little voice that tempts you to walk too much or cut the run short.

Running is like many things in life. There are times when quitting would be the easiest thing. One learns about the rewards when you persevere, work hard and do the right things. Tough runs draw out your inner strengths.

Mantras work for many runners and mine at the start of each run is “Boston-Boston.” The ‘A’ goal for most marathons is a Boston Marathon qualifying time or BQ. It must have been becoming too easy to qualify for Boston as they have lowered qualifying times by five minutes, including three hours, 50 minutes for 60-64 year-olds, previously three hours, 55 minutes.

With a September marathon looming and the Labor Day weekend in Texas, it meant running 22 miles with temperatures in the 80s and high humidity. Walk breaks were more frequent and frequent water stations welcomed.

Snacks are needed during the run. Energy bars and bananas work great but summer-fall months are fantastic in Wahpeton.

My route passes by honeyberries, apples, pears, gooseberries, chokecherries, buffalo berries, our garden’s tomatoes, red currants, chokeberries, cherries and plums. They ripen at different times, hit the spot and I ravage them!

The end of the run is fantasized by imagining crossing the finish line of a favored marathon. And my reward always is a glass or two of chocolate milk.

After running 22 miles on The Woodlands, Texas trails and a quick shower, the family walks a half-mile to Herrera’s, a favored neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

And Grandpa looks forward to the day when grandsons George and Jack graduate from the stroller and can take long walks and runs together.

Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Rec.

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