I’ve always considered myself a recreational runner. I enter the occasional 5k or 10k for “fun” and I’ve even subjected myself to a 13.1 mile race a couple of times. I have never followed a training plan and just bump up my usual mileage a bit right before the half marathons. Fortunately, (knock on wood 10,0000x) I have never been injured from poor training.
You see, I LOVE to run and have always loved it. I am one of those nerds who asks for a fresh pair of Mizuno running shoes for her birthday. From the age of 12 – 18 every Saturday morning in the Fall, I was racing in some backwoods Ohio town with my Cross Country teammates. Instead of getting my nails done the day before Prom, I was practicing hand-offs for the 4×8 relay team at the track. I’ve been running for a long time and I don’t regret a single moment of it.
Wait, wait! Don’t stop reading. I promise, this isn’t a love story about running. This all has a point…getting to it now. I am training for my first marathon and it’s putting a speed bump in my love affair with running. Marathon training has got to be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.
Everything in my body hurts right now. My hip flexors feel like they are going to snap and my calves – that are so big I now have to stuff them into my boots – ripple with each stair I climb. My marathon is on March 22 and with it only being a few weeks away, my weekly mileage has ticked up and I’m at the peak of my training. Because of my schedule, I have only been able to do one long run with friends. The rest have been solo.
On my last long run, I started thinking about ways to make the time go by quickly. Below is a list of ways to distract yourself on your solo run. This run doesn’t have to be 20 miles, it doesn’t even have to be 10 miles. I’ve found these tips helpful on any run that I am feeling some bored or a lack of motivation.
- Listen to Music/Podcasts: Having a playlist for my run makes it go by so much faster for me. If I know I am going to have a long run, I will make a running playlist the day before and I won’t listen to it until the run. That way, I’m not tired of the music. Search me on Spotify (farmera29) to find some new music. I also love listening to podcasts while I’m running. Lately, The Jillian Michaels Show has made the time fly by. She is hilarious and I love her health and fitness segments.
- Play a Pump Up Song: I do this for races, workouts and long runs. Pick a song that gets you pumped up and makes you WANT to run. It should make you feel strong and inspire you to keep going. When this song comes on your playlist, you will automatically want to go faster. My pump up song right now is I’m So Sorry by Imagine Dragons.
- Chant a running mantra: When I’m struggling, I will start to repeat a phrase over and over in my head. Repeating a mantra to yourself can get your mind off the negative and focus on the positive. Some faves:
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.
It’s a beautiful day and I’m doing what I love.
You Can Do Hard Things
- Think about your goals: Goals can range from losing weight to your next career move. As you are running, think about a goal that you have for 2015, or for the upcoming month. Do you want to lose 5 pounds? Think about those 5 pounds lost and how good you are going to feel when those are gone. Applying for a new job? Think about what you’re going to do to get that new position and how you’ll feel when you accomplish this goal. We have a lot more motivation and positivity when endorphins are rushing through us, so it’s a great time to think about goals.
- Running math: I suck at math, so this one is a time-filler and a brain booster. I count down my miles and try to figure out paces for a finishing time. For Example: I only have 40 minutes, so I’m going to try to run 6 miles in that time. At what pace will I have to run my miles in to make this goal?
- Solve a problem: I try to save my personal problems, conflicts and stressful thoughts for my long runs. It is the one time that I am alone with my thoughts and I have nothing else to do but to think through emotions and find solutions to problems or worries that I’m having. By the time the run is done, I feel better and I have a solution! I’ve definitely had a rage run before…It was one of my fastest 6 miles ever!
- Plan an upcoming reward or trip: Thinking about my Spring Break trip to Florida coming up helped me get through miles 10 – 15 on my 22 miler last weekend. I was trudging through the snow-slicked sidewalks, but my mind was filed with sun, sand and vacation time! It put me in a positive state of mind and made the miles fly by.
- Focus on an object in the distance: Research shows that when runners focus on an object in the distance, that distance appears shorter, making exercise easier. Set your eyes on the Stop sign 200 yards away and tell yourself that you are going to pick up the pace until you reach it or take a break when you pass it, or not look at your watch until you pass it.
- Play speed games: If you are on a treadmill, try bumping up your speed by 0.1 every 1 -2 minutes. Have a goal to get to a certain pace by in a specific amount of time. If you’re running for 35 minutes, bump up your pace by 0.1 every 2 minutes until you are at 25 minutes, then bump it back down every 1.5 minutes for a cool down. Running outside: tell yourself you are going to run the next half mile at a faster pace, then slow down, then try it again. Keep track of your times for the half minute intervals and strive to beat them.
- When all else fails, phone a friend: I don’t recommend this for a speed workout because your friend definitely gets the bad end of the deal here. But, if you are running at a conversation pace, why not phone a friend? I have had long chats with my best friends while I’m doing a nice and easy solo run. I just use my iPhone headphones that have the microphone attached and I can talk and hear just fine. This makes the time go by pretty quickly.