No matter what your version of a "long" run looks like, these creative and helpful tips from women who know a thing or two about distance should definitely help.
No matter how much you might enjoy a good run outside for its magical mind-clearing capabilities, there's no way around it—long runs can feel so long. Like, longer than The Bachelor's season finale long. But if you're training for an endurance race like a 10K or a half, and especially if you're training for the full 26.2, ditching those appointments with the pavement isn't an option.
Luckily, it is possible to make those double-digit endurance runs more enjoyable. Take it from these six women who have been training for the 2018 Boston Marathon. Next time you're about to lace up, try their tricks to make your distance days (no matter how long the distance) suck less and even be—dare we say—fun.
"I make a list of everything I'm grateful for."—Kathrine Switzer, 71, first woman to ever officially enter the Boston Marathon
The long run to me is the best part of running. After 18 minutes, I've already begun to discard the bickering and grocery lists of the day and settle into thinking about the problems or articles I need to think about. Yes, I literally choose the topics I'm going to think about! I also use this as meditative time, a time to remember everything I'm grateful for. It's a long list, and thus takes a long time, so the miles fly by. Anyone can benefit from this tip because you can work out grief or problems, and feel empowered and in control afterward no matter what lies ahead. (See: 20 Thoughts You Have On a Long Run)
Lastly, I combat this by dividing the run into chunks and celebrate what I have left to finish, not what I have already done. For me, it feels much better on a two-hour run to say, "I only have an hour to go," rather than, "Yuck, I've only done an hour." Find a way to frame your run that makes you feel accomplished. (DYK that Kathrine ran the Boston Marathon route 50 years after she became the first run to compete in the epic race? Talk about an anniversary.)
"I run with a buddy!"—Tracy Drozynski, 52, 23-time marathoner
Boston in 2018 will be my 24th marathon! My number-one tip for making long runs more bearable (especially when starting out) is to run with a buddy. Time passes very quickly for me when I do this. In the early days of my long run, I would equate this to having coffee with a friend. I was a working mom of two young children and free time was hard to come by. Running with a friend allowed us to catch up and complete the long run for the week—what's better than that?
Many of my long run partners have been acquaintances turned quick friends. Part of what I love about long runs with others is that normal small talk and filters seem not to exist. Because I am talking and working fairly hard at that same time I tend to talk about whatever is on my mind—freely, without first censoring it. As a result, I have had many truly meaningful and sometimes cathartic conversations. So, my long runs have become something I savor and look forward to, instead of dread. If you don't have a friend that runs, check out your local running club. It seems that there are always other runners around who are happy for the company.
"I listen to Harry Potter on tape."—Samantha Udolf, 24, two-time marathoner
I've run one half marathon and one full marathon, with the 2018 Boston Marathon being my second. During training, I like to listen to books on tape, particularly the Harry Potter series. I never read the J.K. Rowling books as a kid and find Jim Dale's voice so mesmerizing. He has a different voice for each character, so I feel as if I'm watching a movie while I'm running. I only listen to the books when I run and this makes me actually look forward to my longer runs because I can't wait to hear what is going to happen next. When I run, I find myself so captivated by the story that a three-hour run goes by really quickly. (Related: The Best Health and Fitness Podcasts to Listen to Right Now)
"I plan my runs around water fountains locations."—Emily Abbate, 29, run coach, five-time marathoner, and creator of Hurdle Podcast
The 2018 Boston Marathon will be my sixth marathon. Endurance runs may not be your favorite, but they're even trickier when you're dehydrated. So my first piece of advice is to know where the water is (especially when you're training for longer than an hour because that's when you need to be really mindful of your hydration strategy). Everyone's sweat rate is different, but typically the rule of thumb is aim to replenish 18 to 24 ounces of water every hour. That means you're going to need to know the locations of water opportunities. In the summers, I plan my greater-than-10-mile routes around water fountain locations. In the winter, I often stop around mile 8 to grab a bottle at a store. This way, I don't feel guilty ditching the bottle when I'm done with it, and I don't have to be worried about carrying one the entire time.
"I take time to relax before jumping into a long run."—Deena Kastor, 45, Olympic medalist in the Women's Marathon and current American record holder in the maration with a time of 1:07:34
10 years after winning the Olympic Trails in Boston, I'm returning there to race on Patriot's Day, April 2018. In the years in between I've traveled, raced, had a child, wrote a book on the power of optimism, and have been determined to help cultivate the next generation of Olympians as my husband and I lead the @mammothtc But every year I returned to Boston to be an ambassador for this great race or to be a wild running fan. See you in Beantown! #TogetherForward
I used to detest long runs because I would be so tired afterward that the rest of the day became a day of exhaustion. But now I strategically set up my mornings to be more enjoyable: I make fresh raspberry and dark chocolate chip scones and a large French press of coffee, and the Sunday paper gets delivered right to my front porch. I eat breakfast and skim the paper, and an hour later I head out to run.
Once I'm out there, I might choose a new place to run, a brighter outfit. Or if I'm forced on the treadmill, I'll download a podcast, book, or TED talk. The last book I listened to was Trevor Noah's Born of Crime.
"I ask my friends to make my playlists."—Cassie Shortsleeve, 30, first-time marathoner
I'm not great with music, but a few of my friends are. Fortunately, they agreed to make Spotify playlists for me and add songs to the playlists every week. Shuffling through the playlist keeps me on my toes. I never know what song is coming, I don't get sick of my music, and it's a cool way to hear new tracks. Anything to fight the boredom of double-digit mileage. (Read more about what signing up for the Boston Marathon taught this 26.2 first-timer about goal setting).