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How to Stay Focused on Long Training Runs

Speak Up: What Keeps You Motivated During Long Runs?

The 114th Boston Marathon took place today, with throes of fans toting inspirational signs, shouting words of encouragement, and doing anything else they could to help motivate runners during their tough 26.2 miles.

When training alone, those long runs can get a little boring . . . even if your mind does start to wander. While training for a race last year, I'd meet my friend/training partner for a "quick" eight or 10 miles after work. I loved the company because it gave me a little distraction and pushed me to work harder, but as we finished our first loop around the park, one of us would inevitably get a little lazy and start to think about bowing out early — especially after we started going out for a postrun beer and cheeseburger. It was on one such Summer night that I looked at him after mile six, my eyes saying "can we stop early?" when he suddenly yelled out "Beer! Cheeseburger!" and picked up the pace. And it turns out, we're not the only ones who think a cold brew is a good idea after a tough workout.

While it sounds a little silly (and other runners were definitely laughing at us), we kept the routine up every time we headed out for a long run. And when race day came, our friends even made us a huge sign that read, "Beer! Cheeseburgers!" You can bet we were both thinking about our postrace reward the entire time. So 'fess up: what keeps you motivated during a long run? I'd love to hear your suggestions — the wackier the better!

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Join The Conversation
TammyO TammyO 5 years
I run on the trail and also like looking at the woods and that's when I just sort of space out on my run and let my mind wander. I can't think about food cause that just makes me want to stop and walk home. Usually during long runs I can space out by staring at nature that I'm practically hypnotized into forgetting that I'm running at all. But I also need music to go with my runs!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 5 years
Yeah Kellan, congratulations on getting into running! I just want to clarify though that I only think about food when I'm running over 10 miles and burning so many calories that I become absolutely ravenous toward the end. I don't want people to get the wrong idea and think that people who run regularly splurge on food after every run - that would just lead to weight gain!
SaraJeanQueen SaraJeanQueen 5 years
Tica, I also pray , a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers-- I got that idea from my dad :) Kellan, congrats on starting long runs. Little tricks always help.
TADOW TADOW 5 years
Music music and MUSIC I can't do a long run without it. Second comes whatever mantra I say to myself. Sometimes I just repeat the word "endure" over and over again when I'm nearing the end I just want to give up or start walking.
Kellanawida Kellanawida 5 years
For me it's a combination of music and calories burnt. I usually set myself goals of running to songs on my ipod. When the certain song is finished I can slow it down a bit, I just have to make it to the end. I'm a new runner and just trying to get into it so these ideas are all very helpful.
ShedItandGetIt ShedItandGetIt 5 years
Umm, I think about sex of course! http://www.sheddingit.com/2009/12/10/thinking-about-sex-during-marathon-training/ Only thing that got me through marathon training.
littlekaren littlekaren 5 years
LOVE THIS! I'd totally be motivated by the promise of a nice beer, (like the one pictured!) and I do think I'll try thinking of that next run. I already ran today, and I sure could have used that motivation, let me tell you.
SaraJeanQueen SaraJeanQueen 5 years
First of all, I love that story! Cute signs. I never think about food when I'm running. I'm thinking about how good my legs are going to look, or how great I'll feel when I'm done. How awesome it will be when I have 5 miles behind me, for example. Or I'll think, even if I had to stop at 3 miles, that would still be a good workout. And I can keep going which is great. The only time I think about food is on a treadmill, and I think about the food I've ALREADY eaten that I've worked off!! So after 90 calories, it's "goodbye yogurt" and after 60 more, "no more string cheese" and so forth. After 280, goodbye turkey sandwich, etc. It's like I never even ate those things which is sweet.
SaraJeanQueen SaraJeanQueen 5 years
First of all, I love that story! Cute signs. I never think about food when I'm running. I'm thinking about how good my legs are going to look, or how great I'll feel when I'm done. How awesome it will be when I have 5 miles behind me, for example. Or I'll think, even if I had to stop at 3 miles, that would still be a good workout. And I can keep going which is great.The only time I think about food is on a treadmill, and I think about the food I've ALREADY eaten that I've worked off!! So after 90 calories, it's "goodbye yogurt" and after 60 more, "no more string cheese" and so forth. After 280, goodbye turkey sandwich, etc. It's like I never even ate those things which is sweet.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 5 years
Not much keeps me focused aside from just slogging it out. I need my iPod on to help me stay up and motivated.
ticamorena ticamorena 5 years
when I'm trail running, I don't need motivation: just seeing the woods and little animals in the shrubs etc is enough to keep me going,going,going...I don't drink nor do I equate food with 'reward', so instead I pray (yh, kid you not, I slot in a few Hail Mary's and Our Fathers in there), meditate, figure out outfits and clothes I like or...think dirty 'fantasy' thoughts about hot male joggers I run past hahah *blush* just as well I also pray, then!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 5 years
I also like to think about what kind of food I'll eat after my long run . . . but since I'm a vegetarian and try to be a healthy eater, mine's a little more tame - belgian waffle with bananas and almonds! Yum!
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