This question came up in our Event Training group this week. When you start spending more time on your feet, how do you keep it interesting?
1) Break It Up.
It can help to think of it in 3km sections or 5km sections rather than as one long interminable stretch of never-ending running. Sometimes thinking about a distance that you know really well can help to make it less intimidating. Where I used to run before I moved along the lake was 5kms so that’s still a really familiar distance that I will tend to think in on long runs.
2) Change up your playlist (if you listen to music)
It can be easy to get bored if you are listening to the same songs all the time. You could mix it up with a new playlist or download an audiobook to listen to. If you don’t normally listen to music you might want to bring some just for those bits towards the end where you need a bit of extra motivation.
3) Take a different route
As much as I’m a creature of habit, changing your running route can keep you interested on long runs. If you are running somewhere new, there is always something different to look at and the distance will fly on by. I use MapMyRun to look at new routes I could try and it also has a handy elevation chart for routes that you create so you don’t go out for an easy run and end up with steep climb after steep climb. Or you could, if you want to.
4) Take some photos
This is what I like about long runs is that you have a relaxed pace so you can take a break and take some photos or possibly check in on a certain Facebook group if you were so inclined.
5) Pay attention to your technique
Another way to pass the time is to work on aspects of your technique. You might be working on getting your cadence up and turning your feet over more quickly, or making sure that your arms are swinging front to back instead of side to side or that you are leaning forward from the ankles. Whatever it might be, have an experiment. You might find a more efficient style that makes the whole thing easier.
6) Daydream or plan. Your choice
I spend a lot of time daydreaming when I’m out on a run and I also spend a lot of time planning. When else do I get two hours of uninterrupted time to hear myself think. I’ve written articles in my head on runs, I’ve strategised business ideas and just plain old let my mind wander. I have the best ideas on runs because I can just let my mind go.
7) Think about how epic your Facebook update is going to be when you finish
At some point when it’s rough, just think about Strava or Facebook or your potential bragging rights. Works every time.
8) Take walking breaks
Having walking breaks every now and then can be great for your running and great for managing the distance. From a physical point of view, walking uses different muscles to running so having a walking break gives your body a rest and helps to make sure that you don’t fatigue. From a mental point of view, knowing that you only have a certain amount of kilometres to go before having a walking break can help to keep you focused.
9) Find a running partner
Having company on your run is a quick-fire way to cure any boredom you might have and will get you through any bits of the run that you might struggle with but it also has the benefit of making sure you keep your long runs at a conversational pace. Even if you have someone who you could run with but they don’t want to do the full distance you are or vice-versa you can always plan to meet up for part of your run.
And if all else fails . . .
Sometimes if I can’t do a long run either due to illness or tiredness or timing I’ll often sandwich runs and do two medium length runs two days in a row to simulate a long run and it’s a pretty great second option.