I have a love / hate relationship with the long run. I love the way I feel when it’s over. It’s such an accomplishment, and I am so proud of myself for doing it. But, I hate the part of actually doing it. It gets tedious, and I get bored. My mind starts telling me to quit. So, I have put together a list of the things that help me to complete my long runs.
- Break up the miles – Don’t think about how many miles you have to do. Just go start your run. When I think about the miles, I find myself coming up with excuses to not complete them, or even excuses to not go at all. I start thinking I don’t have time, or I haven’t fueled properly. If you keep telling yourself that you have X amount of miles, it will begin to get overwhelming. Break your miles up into parts. Do 5 miles, then when you finish that, do another 5 miles. Keep doing this until you reach your total. Or, break it in half. That way once you reach the half way mark, you just have to finish. By breaking up your miles, you are taking away the mental part of the run that will stress you out.
- What’s the goal – I think about why I’m doing this. Am I training for a race, or just running for my health? I also set small goals for myself when I am running to help pass the time. I may tell myself that I am going to run to the end of this street, then once I’m there I’ll set a new goal. This helps me to keep going. I am goal oriented, so thinking about what my goal is helps to reach it. I also visualize the race while I am training. This helps me to realize what I am working for, and this is the way to achieve it.
- Get some sleep – You can’t have a good long run if your body is tired. The entire run is miserable, and you don’t perform like you normally would. Then it becomes mental because it’s so frustrating that your body is not cooperating with what you want it to do. When you don’t have enough sleep, you can feel it in throughout your whole body. It is hard to keep running when your legs feel like heavy weights under you.
- Podcasts – These have really helped me get through my long runs. I get so wrapped up in the story that the time and miles pass so quickly. I have even extended some of my runs in order to finish an episode. I have really enjoyed the Serial and Undisclosed Podcasts.
- Good playlist – Sometimes I just need to get lost in the music. I set up playlists on my phone with names of what I’m running. (5K, 10K, 13.1) This way I know that it will last the entire time without repeating anything. I have two or three playlist for each distance, that way I can choose a different one each day. I also update them regularly so I don’t get tired of the same songs.
- Food – Think about that favorite food or meal you are going to have once you’re done. Sometimes visualizing what you are going to eat will motivate you to finish.
- Try a new route – I usually run the same side street when I run. It’s a half mile down and back. When I am running more than 3 miles, it gets really boring. Change up your route. Find a new one to run, or several new ones to run. Before I run a route, I drive it to make sure that it is safe, and also to clock how far it is. I also take familiar routes and try to figure out ways to loop them to add more miles. This helps break up the monotony of the same route.
- Fuel and hydrate – Make sure you fuel before and during your long run. It’s hard to complete a long run when you have not fueled properly. Your body will tire out quickly, and you may start feeling sick. I also take a GU with me to have in the middle of my run. If I’m running 13 miles, I try to have my GU somewhere between miles 6 and 7. Also, make sure to hydrate so your muscles don’t get tired and sore. I have found that if I drink a lot of water before and after my run my legs do not get sore. Your body will thank you for doing this!
- Pick a mantra – I can do this, I am capable, just keep running. Find something that motivates you to keep you going. Repeat this to yourself over and over.
- Weather – Schedule your runs around the weather. Why would you enjoy running during the hottest or coldest time of the day? When I run in the heat of the day, I sometimes get sick from the heat and have to cut my run short. If I know I’m going to have a long run, I try to schedule it either early in the morning or late in the evening. Also when it’s going to be cold I look to see when the warmest part of the day
Bonus: Who’s at the finish – When I’m running a race, it helps me to think about who’s waiting for me at the finish line. I always picture my loved ones faces and get excited about how proud they will be when I finish the race. That helps motivate me in the middle of a race to keep going. I also do this during my long runs. I think about how proud my husband will be when I get home and tell him how far I ran.