Like everyone else, I have heard that running is mostly mental rather than physical. I understood this concept a little bit before as the length of my runs increase, I completely agree.
This weekend, I did my longest run ever, 16 miles. The total time to complete the run was 3 hours. When I say that out loud I’m actually astounded. I ran for 3 hours! Who am I?
Time is often what impresses others the most about running. You can tell them how far you are running but they always want to know how long that takes. You tell them and it’s almost always followed by, What! I could never run that long. The thing I realized on my latest long run though was that I don’t even notice the time. If you think about the time, the task seems daunting so I have a few tricks that I use to trick my mind into believing my run is shorter than it is.
Five Mental Tricks for Distance Running:
- Don’t look at the time. I focus on my time for my mile intervals but I don’t look at the overall time that I’ve been running (except during a race).
- Run out and back courses. While some people like to run loops so that they don’t double back and get to see different scenery, I actually like running out and back because then I have reference for how much further I have to go on my way back.
- Break down the miles. I like to break my mileage into smaller chunks. For example, for my 16 mile run I ran out and back twice so that I could focus on 4 mile chunks of running which seemed way more doable than the full distance.
- Use positive mantras. Previously I haven’t been much of a positive mantra person but on my latest run as I was struggling with a side stitch during my last 2 miles, I really realized the power of them. Telling yourself that you can go further, be stronger and better really works!
- Daydream. The best part about distance running is you have hours to think. Letting your mind wander can take your mind off the task at hand. And near the end when I’m struggling to finish a run I dream of the finish line and of all the food that I can eat once I’m finished!
What mental tricks do you use for long runs?