Right now, I'm in the middle of training for a half marathon. My race is just a few weeks away, and while I feel like I am mostly ready for race day, I have to admit, my training hasn't been all rainbows and sunshine.
Sticking to my training plan has actually been somewhat difficult for me. The shorter runs are typically not a problem, but I seriously struggle with the long runs. Physically, they are exhausting, but the mental aspect is what is most challenging for me. The higher mileage is sometimes so overwhelming, I want to quit right in the middle of my run. After running for miles and miles, I often have trouble harnessing the mental motivation needed to get me through the toughest parts.
Instead of bailing on my long run all together, I came up with some mental tricks to help get me through my long runs. Hopefully, they will help you, too!
Break it up
One of my go-to tricks for my long runs is splitting the distance into smaller mileage. For a 12-mile run, for example, I'll mentally break up the miles into three 4-mile runs, which seem much more manageable. Thinking about running 12 miles is overwhelming, but when I break it down, those shorter distances seem so much more do-able.
Pick a destination
Similar to my suggestion above, instead of thinking about a long run in total miles, I think about how I can break up the distance by planning specific destinations into my route. For instance, I'll run four miles to the park and then another three to the high school and then back to my house. Having a destination in mind makes the miles fly by because I'm thinking about running to a destination instead of constantly looking at my watch and counting down the miles of my long run.
Recruit a friend
During a few of my long runs, I coordinated running some of the miles with a friend. Having a buddy to run with distracted me from the mileage and gave me the motivation I needed to get through those tough middle miles.
Use motivational mantras
Motivational mantras always help pump me up when I struggle during a long run. Sometimes, a little self-talk is all I need to keep trucking along. Here are some of my favorite motivational mantras that help get me through the toughest workouts.
Imagine yourself on race day
When I am really having a tough time with my long run, I think about myself on race day. During a race, I am mentally strong and don't let myself stop and walk, especially with all of those spectators watching me. Instead, I toughen up and push myself though the hardest moments. So, during my long runs, I imagine myself during a race-- strong, powerful, and determined-- which gets me through my long run!
Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.