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Staying Motivated on Long Runs

There's something that happens when long runs extend beyond two hours.  At some point, it gets boring and miserable and it makes you want to phone it in.  Even with all the miles that I've put in through training for the Dopey Challenge, there are still runs where motivation is definitely lacking.  Over the years, I've used different strategies for getting through those times where the miles seem to drag on.

Music -Sometimes the right song on my playlist is all I need to motivate me to keep going.  Sometimes it's not even a "typical" running song.  "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" from The Lion King has helped save a troubling run.  I know not all runners wear headphones.  It's also important to keep safety in mind.  Make sure the volume is low and consider keeping only one earbud in so you can hear your surroundings.  This is important where I run as there's lots of wildlife always around.

Visualization -Thinking about the finish line and reaching my goals can also help power me through a run.  The key to visualization is all in the details.  It's not just about picturing the finish line.  You need to picture the roar of the crowd, looking for your friends and family cheering you on, even high-fiving Mickey Mouse, whatever it takes to get you to the finish line.

Focus -Being in the moment can help you push though some of the long runs.  It's easy to think about all the miles you have run, or worse, all the miles you still have to run.  There's a saying, "Run the mile you are in."  This is something I keep in mind when the miles I have yet to run seem overwhelming.  Focusing on what doesn't hurt is also helpful when your feet and legs get tired. Even if the only thing that doesn't hurt is your eyebrows!

Zone Out -I know that this is the opposite of focus.  But sometimes, zoning out can be just as helpful a technique to get through a long run.  Sometimes I start thinking about something, usually a Disney trip or wedding planning.  Before I know it, I'm a mile or two down the road.  Again, just make sure you are being safe out there.

Break the run into smaller pieces - I believe you run the first 1/3 of the race with your head, the second 1/3 with your personality and the last 1/3 with your heart.  Doing this, it helps break down a race or a long run for me.  It also keeps me from starting out too fast.  If that seems like too much, then break it down into smaller pieces.  Start with something simple such as, "I'll run to that tree on the corner" or "I'll run for another 60 seconds" and see how you feel at the end of that.  Then make yourself a new benchmark.  It will help make the miles tick by.

What do you do to make the miles fly by?

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