Long runs are better when there’s something fun at the end.
Like everyone else, I struggle with motivation when it comes to long runs. The idea of running for three straight hours – and then feeling wiped out for a couple more – just isn’t something that I can get excited about. And so I use tricks to get myself out the door. The most recent of these is putting something fun at the end of my long run.
There’s a big lake roughly 24 kilometres south of where I live. We’ve driven past it a bunch of times and always say it would be nice to stop and check it out someday. But we never do.
Deciding that it was finally time to change that, I mapped out a running route from our house to the lake. This took some time – I was zooming in close over the entire route on Google Maps, trying to make sure that the route was actually passable. Once I finally got it nailed down, I printed out a copy and emailed another to my phone in case that one got wet. I calculated how long the run would take me, counting in a stop for snacks at a gas station, and then set a time and place to meet up with my wife at the end. That’s about twenty times more planning than my typical long run takes – even without factoring in all that my wife had to do to get our 21-month-old son down to the lake at the right time.
The first half of the run was along roads that I’d run before, but the second half was entirely new to me. It felt great to be exploring new terrain so close to home.
Even better was the fact that I didn’t procrastinate or try to talk myself out of this run. I was excited about the lake end of it and, knowing that I had to get there at a specific time, I started my run right on time.
The last bridge on my route was closed for construction. While this sounds like it would have been a negative, it actually ended up being pretty great. The detour was easy enough to find and added five “bonus” kilometres onto my run. (Maybe they’ll help me out during my next marathon?)
After running a little over 28 kilometres, I turned left and spotted my wife and son waiting for me. Behind them? Big stacks of kayaks and canoes – our afternoon adventure.