Two months ago, I decided to start training for a half marathon that will take place in April. I’m not an experienced runner–before college I could run two miles max without stopping. But, last spring, after an incredibly lazy winter, I decided I needed to start doing something that would get me fit, fast. So, I started running. And I actually kind of liked it. Although I found the consistency and monotony somewhat boring, running was therapeutic and, at its best moments, even meditative. Going for a run was a nice opportunity for either some alone time, or one-on-one time with a friend.
This year, however, I wanted to create some structure for myself…especially when New Jersey winters would make it unpleasant (or unbearable) to run outside. I needed a goal to motivate me to keep running through the bitter cold, or when slogging away on the treadmill. So, I signed up for a half marathon.
Now I’m training to run 13 miles without stopping (!!!), and hopefully in good time without injuring myself...I’ve began running more, and longer distances, which has brought on the added challenge of how to keep myself entertained and mentally strong. Often, I find that I’ll stop, not necessarily because I’m physically tired, but because I’m mentally tired, or just plain bored. Beating the boredom allows me to push myself further.
I’ve been training for the past two months, increasing my mileage slightly every week. I still have a ways to go, but want to share some techniques that I've learned for getting through longer runs.
Drag a friend along. Preferably someone as fit or fitter than you.
When I’m running with a friend and my friend doesn’t want to stop, I’m much less inclined to suggest it. Engage in some light-hearted competition and the miles will fly by.
Find your fitspiration and keep it in mind as you run.
This can be someone you see every time you go to the gym or someone’s blog that you read over breakfast. I love going to the gym at peak hours when I know that athletes will be there, or running along the lake when the crew team is training outside. Try not to feel embarrassed by comparing athletic ability, but rather use other people’s fitness as inspiration to increase your own.
I was once running next to a guy who did eight miles on a treadmill without listening to music or watching anything. I spent my entire run wondering how he could possibly be entertaining himself, and also being unbelievably impressed with his ability. Needless to say, my five miles never felt shorter.
Curate what you listen to.
When you know each song on your playlist will pump you up, you won’t have an excuse to stop running or to pause, because your FAVORITE SONG just came on and you have to AT LEAST run until it ends (but then your other favorite song comes on too and…you get the idea). That being said, Spotify also offers these pretty sweet “running playlists” that determine how fast you’re going and play songs that match your speed and can help you find a running rhythm. I’ve found though, that the songs can be hit or miss, so if you need serious musical inspiration, don’t rely on this.
For a playlist that will get you through any run, check out THE SWEAT SCENE's Run For Your Life playlist.
Break up your run with what you’re listening to.
I find it helpful to switch up what I’m listening to, especially if I’m going for a long run. Maybe I’ll start with a twenty-minute podcast that gets me through the easy beginning, before changing to one of my playlists. As I’m nearing the end of my run, I might reward myself by switching to a playlist of my all time favorite inspirational songs. This gives me something to look forward to as I’m trudging through the never-ending middle miles, and then serves as my motivation to push through my exhaustion at the end.
I love ending my run doing intervals. Yes, I’m tired, but I’m also super warmed up and psyched that I’ve gotten this far. Typically on the last mile I’ll alternate between sprinting and jogging, basing these intervals off the beat of the song I’m listening to. You’ll finish faster and have squeezed more out of your workout.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a place to start! Try out some of my suggestions and see what works! And tell me some of your techniques too. I’m always looking for new ways to push through what can feel like a never-ending workout. Happy running!