It doesn’t matter if you are trying to increase your endurance or if you are training for a race; long runs can be monotonous and boring, to say the least. For many people, long-distance runs are not only a test for them physically but mentally as well. Their body might be able to make it to the end, but their brain is not keeping up with them. This, in turn, sucks even more because from the inside, you’re screaming you can do it, yet all you want to do is stop and give up.
If you are someone who has the same issue, worry not because you are in luck. There are some tips and tricks you can do to make your long runs more bearable mentally.
It’s better if you divide your long run into shorter segments. For example, if your run is 10 miles long, break it down to two 5 miles runs or four 2.5 miles run. Each time you get done with one of your segments, reward yourself with a small walk break or even a drink break.
Similarly, if you are using a treadmill for your run, you can keep switching your treadmills just to keep the run fresh. Moreover, you can even try to complete half of your run indoors, meaning in a gym, and the other half outside. It is all about keeping things fresh and new during the long run.
Each time you start a new segment, tell yourself that you are starting a new run, that your legs are ready to make it to the end of the segment. You can also do that by making mental (or even physical checkpoints). It could be a statue, a tree, or even a break that you have marked up so that when you see them, you get motivated because they mark the end of a segment.
Whatever you do, Don’t watch your running app or even your watch constantly. The more frequently you check, you won’t see any progress being made; hence you will feel as if you are not doing anything. Thus your motivation will go down the hill. So once you start the run, try your best to ignore your app or watch and resist the need to watch it constantly.
If you have a friend that also runs, bring them along during your long runs. Time passes the fastest when you are with good company and having a good conversation. Same works for long runs. Your partner can also motivate you during the long run and vice versa. Keep pushing each other till the finish line.
If you don’t have a friend who can tag along in your run, look for any community centers, even running stores, because more often than not, they have running groups(usually on weekends, but it depends) that you can join. Who knows, you might even find a coach because some centers offer coaches for certain runs.
I know this is usually the first thing a runner does during their runs, listen to music. Usually, people either stick to a specific genre or even specific songs that they like and listen to them over and over again. This can make your runs quite boring if I’m honest.
I understand not everyone likes going out of their comfort zone and changing to their music, but you will be surprised by all the different songs and even genres a person can listen to (and even like) during their runs. And no, I’m not just bluffing. So if you are tired and bored of listening to the same songs again and again during your run, make a playlist consisting of songs that you would not listen to in any other situation. Give them a try during your run. You might end up liking them, and if you don’t, well, then at least you had a different experience.
Are you someone who enjoys podcasts, loves listening to people talk about their life stories or even thrilling crime scenes? Or do you love stories and books? Well, why don’t you combine this love of yours with your love of running? If you always listen to music during your runs, try changing it with a podcast or audiobook. If you Don’t usually listen to them, then you can try them out and see if they work for you. You just need to be willing to give it a chance.
This idea might seem bizarre to some, listening to a person’s voice when running, but it is actually more common than you think. Some people do it because they love listening to podcasts or because this is the time they can actually catch up on their favorite books. However, some do it to maintain a slow pace, especially during the first few miles. It’s runner101 that you should have yourself during your long runs so you can run longer, at least for the first few miles. Let your legs get all warmed up before using them properly. If you listen to upbeat music, you might unintentionally run faster, all because of that fast beat. So people use audiobooks and podcasts because they are slow-paced, and hence you run slowly as well.
If you feel as if you are getting really fatigued during your long run and that you will not be able to do it, give yourself a pep talk. Tell yourself that this is just a mind game and that you have a lot of energy left in you. Try giving your brain and body some incentive like ‘I’ll drink water after I’m done with this mile’ or ‘I will take a break after 5 minutes.’ These incentives will act as a motivator and will push you forward. I meant it when I said all of This is a mind game. If you convince your brain that you are not tired and that you can complete the long run easily, you will feel the effects of it physically as well. So don’t let go and convince your brain to push forward.
It’s likely that you are using the same route for your runs, especially if you are training for your marathon. This can become monotonous after some time. So you can try switching it up with a new path. Tackle a new route, and if not that, then take a detour from your regular route. Each time you will be in a new area, your brain will be on alert. It will then differentiate this run from all your regular runs, and therefore you will not get bored because, most likely, your brain will be busy looking at its new surroundings and not the fact that you have been running for a long time. See? It’s all about tricking your brain.
If you are someone who is motivated by incentives, this one’s for you. Make some plans after your long run, whether it’s with your friends, family, or alone, it does not matter. Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Try out the new place you have been eyeing. Go to the beach. Anything that you are interested in works. During the run, keep telling yourself that once you are done with your miles, you will go out for fun. And if you don’t want to go out, you can plan something as simple as making dinner and watching a movie at home. This does not only act as a motivator, but this also helps you plan and organize your day better.
So here you go, the best mental tips that will help you conquer your long runs without feeling like you will die from boredom. This is all about trying and seeing what works for you and what doesn’t. Not all of these tips will work for you, so it’s up to you to do trial and error.
I’ve said this a few times in the article already, and I’ll say it again. It’s all a mind game. Once you conquer your mind, you will be able to do all your runs without feeling bored or down. No matter how long they are. It is just about convincing your brain that you got this, that this isn’t boring or hard for you at all. If you succeed in convincing your brain, your body will follow.