10 Easy Ways to Make Long Runs Fly By
Love it or hate it, long slow distance (LSD) is a vital component of any distance runner’s arsenal. Not only do long runs offer a whole range of physiological benefits, but they also teach us to toughen up mentally and improve our coping skills. So whether you thrive on longer runs or have to drag your unwilling butt out the door to get it done, it will definitely benefit your running. Here are ten easy ways to make long runs fly by.
1. Buddy up
Sure, not everyone’s a fan of blabbing on the run. But nothing distracts your attention from those aching legs like a bit mindless chatter. Misery loves company, right?
And if solo me-time is one of your main reasons for running long, why not complete the first half of your long run by yourself and meet up with a friend for the last bit? You’ll still get your alone time, plus you’ll have some welcome distraction when you need it most. Boom.
2. Mentally break it up
How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time. And as clichéd as this saying might be, it describes the perfect long-run strategy to a T. Tackling a long run as a single, undivided unit may be overwhelming, but mentally dividing it into smaller, more manageable chunks feels much more doable.
So if you’re heading out for that final 32 km long run before wrapping up your marathon training, mentally divide it into two 10Ks, two parkruns and a final finishing spurt. And then focus on each separate part (and that part only!) until it’s over. The total distance will take care of itself.
3. Physically break it up
Long runs also feel much less monotonous if you build in some mid-run rewards. It can be as simple as hiding a bottle of coconut water behind a bush at one or two points along your route. And why not add a few jelly babies or half a banana for good measure? Not only will this give you something to look forward to during the first part of your run, but it will also invigorate you for the final half.
And if you want to go all out, why not ask the family to meet you halfway? You can stop for a quick drink, snack and chat and let their encouragement carry you through those final, challenging miles.
4. Play around
You’re going to be out there for hours, so why not make it fun? Join in one of the many social media running treasure hunts during your run. Treasure what…? Well, some social media running groups have treasure hunt lists for long runs, where you get points or rewards for ticking off as many as possible items from the list during a run. Commonly listed items include ambulances, snowmen, Christmas decorations, bridges, monuments and the like. Post-run pics of treasure hunt finds are then shared on social media, which gives you an added sense of community.
Not a fan of running with your phone or stopping for mid-run pictures? Then why not entertain yourself with a good ol’ game of running cricket? Different colored cars have different, pre-determined scores and an ambulance or fire truck stumps you out. Add up your score on the run and try to beat your previous score every time you run long.
5. Feast your ears
Long runs provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading (via audiobooks) or podcasts. So build up an electronic library of whatever tickles your fancy and spend those hours on the road feeding your mind while challenging your body. Just remember to stay safe and be aware of your surroundings.
In the mood for something less onerous? A killer playlist also goes a long way in shortening those endless miles.
And if silence is more your thing, why not use your long runs to pray, meditate or count and give thanks for your blessings? In today’s rushed world it’s hard to find the time for silent reflection. So use your time out on the road wisely – you’ll return home calm, thankful and happy.
7. Work it out
Struggling with a dilemma at work? A long run is the perfect opportunity to calmly and quietly think things over and weigh up possible solutions.
And while running most certainly isn’t the solution to every problem, an hour or two of thinking things through with a fresh, oxygenated mind might be just what you need to see things from a different perspective.
8. Spread it out
Can’t bear the thought of a long run in the morning? Then why not make it more manageable by splitting it in two? This way you’ll lower your chance of injury while still reaping the benefits of going long. Here’s what you need to know.
Struggling to find the time for long runs that you don’t really want to do anyway? Make them a part of your daily schedule. Run to the mall for a few essential items, run to school to pick up the kids (use a stroller if they’re young or let them join you on their scooters if they’re older), exercise the dog on a portion of your run, or run to the post office to pick up a parcel.
Ticking off items from your daily to-do list whilst running will not only give you something to focus on while running, but it will also give you an extra sense of accomplishment when it’s done.
Ever thought of paying someone to distract you during your long run? The popularity of running tours is on the rise and more and more reputable tour operators are offering sightseeing running tours in major cities around the world. So why not multitask and play tourist in your own city while clocking some miles at the same time?
And if you’re not quite prepared to shell out some bucks to make your long run fly by, don’t worry. Why not head to a nearby city or reserve and explore on your own? Or maybe even just head to a different neighbourhood? Applications like Strava make finding great new running routes really easy, so get planning. Just be sure to take the necessary safety precautions when running in an unknown area and always let someone know where you’re headed and when you’ll be back.
So if you’re dreading heading out there to build some endurance, give some of these tips a try. Who knows, you might even start looking forward to getting those long runs done!