UO ACTIVE: 5 TIPS TO SMASH LONG DISTANCE RUNNINGApril 12, 2016
Lighter mornings and longer evenings combined with blue skies and warm rays have got us flocking outside with wild enthusiasm. The daring amongst us have already braved bare flesh, sunnies are out and we’re gearing up to resume our outdoor running routines now that we’re not holed up inside. We’re feeling inspired to shake off the post-Easter slump and head outdoors.
We spoke to London-based marathon runner, Ben McCabe on silencing self-doubt and staying motivated when long distance running.
Different people get inspired in different ways, but it’s worth working out what form of distraction works for you while running. Some prefer to blast a playlist full of high tempo tracks, while others like to use the time to think through all of the things we don’t normally have time to worry about in our fast-paced lives.
Whether it’s humming along to your favourite tune or working out the last time you called your grandmother, having something to distract you when the run starts getting tough makes it much easier to keep going.
Variety is the spice of life
Running that same park near your house might be easy, but it sure as hell isn’t exciting. When going on a longer run, consider jumping onto public transport and heading somewhere new.
One option is to take part in an organised event, or head out into the wilds and try trail running. If you’d rather stay close to home, find a way to change up your normal run. You could do this by reversing the direction or adding a new loop – this way it won’t feel like the same old routine. It’s important to gear your run so that you have as few loops repeated as possible. There is nothing more mentally draining than having to run that same bit of tarmac for the third time in your run.
Ignorance is bliss
As tempting as it is to regularly check up on your timing so you can make sure you’re running that nine minute mile you’re gunning for, resist the urge. Instead, pick certain landmarks that you can check your pace against. You’ll find it much easier settle into a routine and concentrate on enjoying the run, rather than constantly worrying about your time.
By treating your longer runs as if they were fully-fledged races, you’ll find that you go into it a lot more focused. Eating well the night before (all of the carbs) and then following a proper hydration and stretching routine before the run will put you in the right mindset for going out and tearing up the course.
When you start the run, focus on getting to the halfway stage and then worry about getting to the end. Organise your route so that this is your furthest point from where you plan to finish. You’ll instinctively focus on getting home rather than how far you have left to go.
Don’t forget why you started
You’re two miles from the end of your run and your legs are on fire. Your left knee seems fit to burst and that pain in your heel just keeps getting worse. At this point, the only thing you can do is force yourself to remember why you’re doing this.
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to run a marathon or just determined to improve your fitness – work out why you’re putting in the effort and, when your body wants to give up, remind it why you’re there. You’ll find it a lot easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other.