Staying Focused During a Long Run
I remember standing at the starting line of cross country races in high school and thinking: “This is going to hurt.”
I was almost always undertrained, underfed and over stressed, but I would launch myself through the course with reckless abandon and would indeed, be hurting by the end when I crawled into the team tent to eat a peanut butter bagel.
Fast forward a painful number of years ahead, and I start my Sunday mornings pointing my Garmin to the sky, hydration pack on my back and a glint in my eye and think: “I don’t even know what is going to happen in the next 3.5 hours!”
As I have been preparing for my fall marathon, I have been using the training advice of Dr. Philip Maffetone, who suggests runners to use their long runs as an oppurtunity to simulate a race, which means even know I can run 32 km in much less time than 3 hours and 30 minutes, I walk 20 minutes before and after my run to ensure my race feels just like a training run.
But three hours plus on the road can feel like a long time by anyone’s standards. So what can you do to negate boredom, overcome pain and embrace the potential suck?
A few of my tricks:
Podcasts: It literally blew my mind the first time I tried running with a podcast. The time flew by and I was chuckling at the jokes like a little loon in running shoes. My current favourite is Ultra Runner Podcast. Each podcast is about an hour long and it helps speed up the time.
Water: I know this sounds ridiculous, but it is all about making mini routines to break up the time. For me, I take a sip of water every 5 minutes or so, which keeps me from zoning out and helps keep me hydrated.
Music: I constantly am combing radio stations and iTunes for fresh, new music that pumps me up or have as 180 bpm. Some of my current favourites:
Use the Galloway Method – Also called the walk,run,walk method. If I know that I am fatigued, I will run for 10 minutes and walk for one. This helps to keep me aware of my time and also run faster in the 10 minute intervals.
Aim for a negative split – Meaning you do the second half of your run faster than the first half. By focusing on conserving energy at the beginning of your run, you will feel super successful and satisfied at the end of your long run.
Plan your week or meditate: I tend to be hyper organized. When people ask me how I manage to remember so many things, I chalk it up to the fact that I am an endurance athlete and a commuter, both giving me plenty of time to think. I reflect on the past week and think about what I want to accomplish in the coming week. I also spend some time refocusing and meditating.
Maybe you are more of a treadmill person. I don’t get you, but I will still love you. That is where my friend, Angela, is your girl. She wrote a piece on beating boredom on the treadmill, which includes a fabulous list of podcasts to subscribe to.
Have any music or podcast ideas I should know about? List them below!
What tips or tricks have I missed?