A long run. It sounds exhausting and painful. However, you are a runner (or just started running) and want to ensure you are getting the most out of your exercise. But why a long run? A long run is necessary to get you into training for a 5K, half marathon or an IRONMAN triathlon. Training for long runs will help your body to get used to the changes it will undergo, such as producing more capillaries in muscle fiber, mitochondria (number and size) and glycogen in muscles. And we can’t forget about the benefits of running, including weight loss, less stress and more strength.
Yet, with all benefits, the thought of going on a long run can be a challenge. Below are three ways to make a long run more interesting.
- Scenery. If you run the same route each time, the run will become boring. An easy fix is to change the scenery. Instead of your neighborhood, why not go for a run in a local park? You can also drive to a different neighborhood. Not only will the terrain be different, but the fact that you are exploring a new area is exciting. Also, don’t skip a run just because you are on vacation or on a work trip. A new city or state to run in is even more interesting because the area is completely foreign to you. However, be sure to map out the run first and carry your cell phone.
- Zone Out. Exercise, whether you are swimming, walking or running, is a great way to reduce your stress. It produces endorphins, which create a positive feeling. And when when on a run, you should focus on what is going on in front of you. This also reduces your stress because you are not thinking about what you need to do or the issues from the day before. This is your chance to focus on the road (or beach) in front of you; to take notice of things around you (e.g. nature). Reducing your stress is another way to get you mentally prepared for your next (or first) marathon.
- Pair Up. If you don’t like the solitude of running, you can always get a friend to join you. When you pair up, you and your partner can motivate each other to push harder and finish the route. You can also have a conversation to take your mind off the run. This is a great way to get caught up with your friend as well as make sure you are exerting the right amount of effort. Running with a buddy is also safer in case you (or your partner) receive an injury. Just be sure your running partner matches your skill level.