The Long Run. More polarising than Dimitar Berbatov. For some, it’s the highlight of their week. For others, it’s an inconvenient 3 hour chunk bitten out of their weekend and purely a means to an end.
The rest of this blog post is dedicated to those who fall into that second camp, people who are looking for ways to stay motivated during a long run. Who knows, you might even learn to love the long run!
Music is great and all don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than putting together that fresh running playlist (like one of these) and knocking down a decent tempo run.
But if you’re struggling with your long runs then music can essentially work as a 3-5 minute alarm clock, leaving you with that feeling of “oh god, I’m only at THIS song”, and a constant reminder that you haven’t even gone a mile in the time it takes Africa by Toto to play, AGAIN.
Try swapping out the music for a decent podcast. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but the longform nature of most podcasts can really help pull you away from focusing on the minutes and seconds, and take your mind to a different place.
Personal favourites of ours include Richard Herring’s “RHLSTP”, “99% Invisible” and as always “The Totally Football League Podcast” (but unless you’re really into lower league English football it might not be for you).
If you’re looking for something a bit more running related, Bad Boy Running and Ten Junk Miles are two of our favourites.
If you’re not a fan of running with headphones, or blaring music out of your phone like a teenager on the bus, you could always try and rope some friends into running with you. Having the option of conversation there is always a good one, and it helps a lot of people keep on stepping to know that someone is right there with them.
If you’re training for a marathon, you might struggle to convince your pals to do your longer distance training runs with you, but if you can get a bit creative with your route and get them to run the final 10km or similar with you then jobs a good’un.
Typically, a runners long run takes up around 20-40% of their weekly mileage so the numbers tend to look daunting on paper. Try splitting things up a bit.
For example, don’t think of it as a 20 miler, think of it as 4 sets of 5-milers and give each one a separate focus (perhaps on arm drive, foot-strike, or breathing etc.). This will stop things getting too monotonous for you and also help you improve your technique nicely.
Failing to plan is planning to fail – and this is as true as anything for the long run. A huge part on staying motivated during a long run is confidence, and if you have confidence in your route this will transfer to other parts of your running.
Have a quick scan of google maps (or local trail maps) and work out where you’re going. This will also stop you binning off the run because you’ve hit a dead end or stumbled into some empty, never ending industrial estate.
The definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. So it’s fair that people who have had a bad experience on a long run will be hesitant to do it again, and not really look forward to it.
But running laughs in the face of that definition. The more you do the things you need to improve, the better the results get. Sure, there are going to be days where it’s tough, where you just don’t feel like it, and that is absolutely fine, but don’t let it put you off what can be a really rewarding run in the future. Stick with it and don’t let the tough runs grind you down.