Mental Strategies for the Long Run

I’m sure you’ve headed out for long runs with the best of intentions but quickly realized how you just weren’t into it.

We’ve all been there, it happens even to running coaches like myself. Some days we’re just not fully into the run, mentally. So what’s one to do?

For those who are training to become the best runner we can sometimes we’re going to have to do things we don’t feel like doing even when we know it’s the right thing to do. Get the 15 miles in and you’ll be stronger and feel good about it! Don’t, and you’ll regret it either afterward or at the finish line of the goal race. 

So here are a few ways I “trick” myself into getting the full run distances in when I don’t feel like it.

Just one more mile

There are some runs where I literally spend half of it just convincing myself to do one more mile for 2 hours. 

And it almost always works! When the expectation is 10 to 20 miles but you’re only trying to get yourself to do one (more) it becomes a pretty manageable task to overcome. This tactic can be combined with the next one.

Halfway done is done.

Does anyone else get to the halfway point of an out and back run and feel like…they’re done and it’s just downhill and easy on the way back? 

I use this to my advantage and very often run out and back routes where I go straight west out of town. If my goal is 16 miles I get in my head that I just need to get to 8 and it’s easy and right back home after that. 

And you know what, it works!

If I’m 6 miles from home I may as well run the extra 2 out and then I’ll I know that I just need to turn around and head home. 

Spurs

I’ll even do this with short runs and it’s a nice way to still do an out and back but not have to actually go out so far. 

There’s just something about only having to go out 5 miles instead of 8 for a 16 total mile run. The above route is 16 miles total but I only had to actually run 4.5 miles as the farthest point away from home and for me that’s a big weight off of my mental shoulders! The three spurs I did off of the main route almost feel like free miles being tacked onto the total distance. 

Loops

And the last little thing I do less frequently is loops!

As you can see above, that 15 miler contains loops ranging from 5 miles, a couple 3 milers, and even a loop of a single mile. 

It’ just nice to break it up and when I do something like this I may start with the 5 mile loop to get the big chunk out of the way, next up is a 4 miler loop, 3, 2, 1 and you just covered 15 miles! The reverse pyramid of the loop distances mentally gets easier each time. 

In the end,

Just like with shoes, it’s nice to have some long run options. 

Sometimes I’ll go weeks doing a similar route over and over again and sometimes I’ll mix it up quite a bit. The important part is just getting out there and getting it all done! 

If you like what you just learned and want to get more info on my sometimes unconventional yet proven tactics for helping my runners improve their running through sustainable training habits, nutritional guidance, developing great mindfulness practices, and incorporating easy to do running-specific strength work and having all of it come together with great accountability and motivation, download a guide HERE where I share with you how to implement some different parts of my own coaching into your own training.