Ways to Make Your Long Run More Enjoyable
Long runs are the cornerstone of any endurance training program. The long run is your best race day prep; not only because of the time on your feet, but the hydration and nutrition before and during your run, plus your recovery afterwards. Building your mileage each week is exciting as you hit new distance milestones, but is also the cause of anxiety. Here are some ways to make your long runs something you actually look forward to!
Listen to Music/Podcasts/Audiobooks
Listening to music on the run is a hotly debated topic amongst runners, so if you are adamantly against running with headphones, I respect that and will see you for the next tip! Music is not only a great way to make the miles fly by, but there are stations on apps like Pandora and Spotify that are specifically created with running in mind. Remember, your pace should be slow, so keep it in check if you’re listening to fast tempo tunes!
My standby for long runs is podcasts. Music lets your mind wander, which is usually great, but not so much when your mind keeps going back to how many more miles you have. Podcasts and audiobooks keep your mind engaged with conversation and storylines. There are SO SO SO many great podcasts out there, but here are a few of my personal favorites:
As for audiobooks, I recommend checking out Audible.com. Often I will listen to a couple of podcasts and end my run with a half hour or so of music. Happy listening!
Join a Group Run
Training with a group means your long runs will be a social event. The miles fly by when you’re meeting new people or catching up with other participants you only see once or twice a week. If you aren’t training with a group, consider doing some of your miles with a local free running group. You may have 16 miles to do that morning and they may only go 7, but you can get a good portion done with others and you never know who will be up for an impromptu long run or happens to also be training for a race.
Reach Out to Friends
More than a few times my Facebook feed has read, “I have 18 miles to do tomorrow, anyone want to join for a few?”. This crowdsourcing tactic is genius. The logistics may get a little tricky, but it’s part of the fun to create a new route just to run by a friends house so they can join you for 4 miles. This gives you something to look forward to, a nice break from your solo run, and also gets someone else out there who may not have done so otherwise. Win-win-win!
Go Off Course
Running the same route week after week will get old fast. You have a few options to mix things up, reversing your course being the simplest. Consider driving (or biking) to another more scenic area to fit in a park or path that you wouldn’t be able to reach by running. Fitting in an errand is one of my favorite ways to multitask while on the run. I’ve met a friend 6 miles away to give her back something I had borrowed (stuck it in my trusty FlipBelt), ran around a park nearby and headed back home. It gave my run another purpose and sent me through neighborhoods I didn’t normally run through. My favorite way to map out a run is MapMyRun.com, because the last thing you want to do is extend your long run unintentionally!
Pick something to do at the start of each mile that focuses on form or resembles a running drill. For example, when you hit 5 miles focus on keeping your shoulders away from your ears and having good posture. This not only helps your form, but brings your mind back to how your body feels at this point of the run. A running drill example would be to perform high knees for 30 seconds or doing a few strides.
Have a Post-Run Plan
I always like having a fun plan for later that day. Brunch with friends is a popular choice, but personally I like to make plans for that evening so I can recover properly and nap (usually to Law & Order). Whether it’s a movie night, cocktails at a new restaurant, or reading in a hammock, have something fun in mind that you can focus on when the miles get tough. This carries over for me in the marathon. I make brunch reservations for marathon day at least a month in advance, this way I know no matter how the race goes, at 1pm I will be at brunch because I have reservations 😉
If you can answer these questions, then you’re on the right track:
What are your favorite ways to spice up your long run?
How do you spend the rest of your long run day?
Do you make plans for after your race, too?