Whether you are training for a race or just trying to up your milage as a distance/endurance runner, many people struggle with the long run “hurdle”. I’ve been running on and off for the past 6 years, finding my footing my first year in college. I can say honestly that only very recently I have started enjoying the long runs (which I know is a relative term, but for me a run starts feeling “long” around mile 8 and my typical long run is about 10 miles). I think my tips below are universal for runners, whether your long run is 2 miles or 20 miles. Hopefully these tips are helpful so it won’t take you 6 years to start looking forward to the long runs like it did for me.
1. Don’t think of it as I HAVE TO go on my long run; think of it as I GET to go on my long run. I only really have time for my long runs on the weekend or if I randomly have a day off of work. This makes me treasure the chance to really go the distance!
2. Pick a perfect location. For me that means trail running in parks or trails by the water. I am lucky to live by Mission Bay Park and Fiesta Island which works great for me (pictured above). I like running in the sun rather than the shade. I like to be in somewhat solitude but not totally alone. Know yourself and your running preferences! Maybe you like night running on the streets of downtown near loads of people. Maybe you prefer running in the shade or the rain. Do you :).
3. Give yourself plenty of time. Before and after the run for fueling/preparing and stretching/winding down.
4. Dress comfortably, whatever that means to you. I prefer shorts over spandex capris. I like wearing compression socks during my long runs. If it’s really hot I like running in just a sports bra. I like wearing scrunchies (yes those hair ties from the 80’s) because they don’t tug my hair and if the wind is blowing in the right direction I can easily take out my pony tail and run with my hair down. Own your running quirks and like I said before, do you.
5. Keep your music as fresh as you can. I’m terrible at this but it is really nice when I make a fresh playlist and don’t listen to the same songs every. single. run.
6. Get to the heart of things. Let it be Spiritual. The hard stuff in life is a huge motivator for me. It propels me forward when my legs feel like jello and my stomach is growling. Use your stress, anger, sadness, and fear. Likewise, use your happiness and excitement. Let your run be spiritual. Often when Jon asks me how my run was I reply, “It was spiritual.” Isn’t being emotional the best? 🙂
7. Use a timer. I used to be anti timer but lately it has helped me persevere on long runs. Why quit or slow down when you have kept pace for over an hour? It could be a useful tool as long as it doesn’t stress you out.
8. Fuel properly. Long runs on coffee alone are not a good idea. You need fuel in your body because you WILL run out of Glycogen and you WILL hit a wall if you don’t have any fuel. Even a simple smoothie can do the trick!
9. Don’t skip the stretching/yoga after. I said earlier in this post that I have been running “on and off” for 6 years. During the “off” times I was more focused on yoga and flexibility. I now realize the necessity for focusing on both simultaneously. They compliment each other and prevent injury. Runners, I suggest doing yoga. Yogis, I suggest running. 🙂
10. Reward yourself for a job well done! Find a healthy reward for yourself that fits in your budget. A massage, a pedicure, a sauna/steam to name just a few suggestions!