One of the most common questions I’m asked by runners is, “When I’m training for a marathon, how can I break the boredom and get through my long runs?” For many this time comes when sounds like you’re hitting the peak mileage of your training season and a phase where things can start to feel ho-hum. The good news is there are several ways to spice up your long run routine and revive your motivation. Try one of these strategies on your next long run.
1. Run in Circles
This is a tried and true approach to make the long run feel a bit easier, but I wanted to share it here because it totally works. Repeat a short four- to five-mile loop or out and back trail to get in the distance. This may sound like torture, but the truth is it makes the time fly by. It breaks up the longer distance into smaller bits, and you can stash a cooler with fluid refills, energy fuel, and an icy towel in your car or the bushes so you carry less on you (and have something to look forward to along the way).
2. Simulate Your Race Course
By simulating the race, it makes things a bit more real and can freshen up your focus. Design a course that simulates your marathon course and treat it as a dress rehearsal. Practice your prerace dinner and breakfast, lay out your clothes, and start at the same time as the race starts. If you’re training for a hilly course, hit the hills. Don’t have hills? Break your long run into sections by running a few kilometres outside, then do some hills on the treadmill, and then head back outside. This also works well for dealing with the heat. You can run the early kilometres outside, and the later kilometres inside. (If you need a great workout for those kilometres inside, check out the new on-demand treadmill training from Runner’s World.)
3. Get Creative
Create an inspiring playlist with music, books, or podcasts. I save my favourite listens for my longer workouts, and I can’t wait to get out, get moving, and listen. Invest the first three kilometres to listening to your body and getting into your easy, conversational effort, and then hit the play button and hold that run steady. I do some of my best brainstorming and thinking when listening to music and audio on my longer runs.
4. Mix it Up
Sometimes just running your go-to course backward can make all the difference. One year I had it with my regular loops and I packed my training vest with enough fuel and fluid for a run. Then I hailed a taxi and took it 32 kilometres in a different direction so I had no choice but to run back home on a different route. It was a blast to navigate, and it felt like I had run somewhere.