A blog by runners. For runners.

Mental tricks for the long run

Mental tricks for the long runYou’ve heard it many times before: Running is as much as mental sport as it is physical. When you get into running those longer than long runs, you understand this phrase a whole lot better. Regardless the workout, there are some mind-tricks that can help make the time go by faster. But what about those double-digits runs? They’re particularly taxing.

Here are some ways to get your brain on board with your training plan:

  • Grab a friend. Make a date with a friend or join the local running club’s weekly meet-up. The chatter and companionship help those miles melt away. And if you’re having a rough go, it’s also fun to have someone to complain with. The added bonus is running in a pair is safer than plodding alone.
  • Break it up. Concentrate on just getting through the first three miles. Then the next three. And so on. If you need to use scheduled walk-breaks as a physical segment, that’s OK, too. Picture your run as a pie. Visualize yourself finishing the first quarter, then the next, and before you know it, the whole thing will be done. And consider rewarding yourself with real pie to help replenish all those burned calories.
  • Loop around. As a similar approach, try running repeats of a shorter loop. Sometimes those long out-and-back courses can be utterly overwhelming. I once did a 20-miler that crossed several town/city lines, and the mental idea of going so many different places was just too much to bear. If you have to run 20, try four 5-mile loops. Or perhaps two 10-mile loops. You can use the stop back home or to your car as a fueling station, too.
  • Get out. I tend to run the same routes over and over again. Not only does this make my long runs quite brining and predictable, it also contributes to my feeling of dread. I remember where I usually start to feel tired, for example, or where that water fountain is that just doesn’t work anymore (it always makes me thirsty). Our runner’s club schedules its long runs all over the place to give people fresh scenery and terrain. Try this same trick by mapping new routes or hopping in your car to discover some new territory.
  • Multitask. There are other times when my motivation is totally squashed because life is busy. I feel guilty for taking so much time away from my day to run. My brain tells me to stop and finish my other responsibilities, but I know the longer I postpone my run, the less likely I’ll finish it. On these days, I multitask. I can listen to a book on my iPod, use my run for thinking through projects or problems, or even run a quick errand.

What tricks do you employ to get through those particularly long runs?

Written by Ashley Marcin.