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How to (Mentally) Survive Your Long Run
Tips and Techniques to Avoid Boredom and Stay Motivated
As any runner will tell you, long runs are the most important part of training for a marathon. Theyre difficult physically, but they can be even more draining mentally, especially if youre a slower runner who takes hours to complete a 10 to 20-mile run.
I learned while training for my first marathon that keeping your brain engaged by playing mind games and distracting yourself from the physical pain of the run is the key to surviving a long run. Here are some ways to do it.
Many of us do our long runs in suburban neighborhoods, where there are lots of cars. Try this challenging game on your next long run: Keep a running tally of how many cars of different colors you see on your run.
Decide on four or five colors. Every time a car passes you or you pass one parked along the road, add it to your count. Youll have to concentrate to remember what color has how many.
If you run along a particularly busy route, this can keep your mind occupied for long stretches.
I even used to write down my tallies when I got home to see if they changed from week to week. I was always surprised how many blue cars there are out there! An interesting variation is to keep a ratio of how many drivers are using cell phones vs how many are not.
Write a Story in Your Head
Most of us believe we have the great American novel hidden somewhere in our heads. Use your long runs to mull over what youd write if you ever sat down to complete that book.
Bonus points if youre already writing—this will give you time to think about your characters motivations and flesh them out with great backstories. Before you know it, a few miles will have flown by.
Replay a Movie
Try to go through a movie youve seen dozens of times frame by frame. Its surprisingly hard to remember all the details.
One of my favorites is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I try to think of every single scene in the movie, from the tomb with hundreds of rats (they sure could have used some rat repellent!) to the different styles of Holy Grail cup (I do try to block out the way the Nazi guy disintegrates at the end; yuck).
You can also use this exercise for inspiration by mind-playing a running-themed movie, like Chariots of Fire.
Run to the Beat
I prefer not to listen to music during my long runs, but I sometimes sing songs in my head. I use different songs for different parts of the run. When I need inspiration, I hum Eminems Lose Yourself.
When Im feeling slow, Ill sing Ushers Yeah. And when Im just trying to distract myself, Ill try to remember all the lyrics to American Pie, a daunting task. That can keep me occupied for miles.
What do you do on your longer runs to keep your mind occupied? Share in the comment section below!
About the Author:
Carly is a freelance writer who loves animals, spending time outdoors, and traveling. She loves how blogging allows her to share her writing with a large audience on the internet.
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