Long runs in my opinion, are one of the most important days of the week. Even if it’s just 6 miles, your long run helps you build endurance and stamina while strengthening slow-twitch muscles (for those of you who run long distance). Long runs can be enjoyable and even fun if you make them, here are some tips:
Running with music can be a big motivator especially when you are running in a boring landscape (I once ran 8 miles on a Track!) or need upbeat songs to keep you going. But, although music is excellent at keeping you moving I recommend taking a break from the headphones sometimes. Recently I have ditched the music on my long runs because I use these days to listen to my body and become more in tune with it (no pun intended). Without music on these long runs, I am alone with my thoughts and reflect on the week; or I notice my breathing pattern or if my left hip is bothering me. Music is entirely up to you but I wouldn’t rely on it every run, running without music can give you more insight about yourself/body while running.
New gear always make me want to run longer and faster. As you know I just got some new compression socks that I always wear on my long runs, because I believe that they keep the lactic acid in my legs from building up and prevents soreness. Even if its just that new pair of leggings, a new clothing item gives a new “pep in your step” that makes you confident during the run.
Location, location, location. Long runs can be an opportunity to explore your city or beautiful scenery. You don’t have to stick to the same route, running longer opens up new areas and distances to cover. I even recommend sometimes driving 15-20 minutes away to a beach, boardwalk, park or anywhere near the water. These new places will keep your mind off the miles and focus on the sound of the water or the way the light hits the trees. On New Year’s day I drove to the boat docks and ran along the water, it was fascinating and so beautiful that I ended up running farther just because I didn’t want to leave.
Time your runs so that you come back while the sun is setting. Everybody loves a sunset so why not race the sunset? If you know about how long your run will be, look up the local sunset time and plan to start finishing your run around that time so that you can watch the sunset while you run. These are the runs that make me realize how amazing our sport is and it is so invigorating and relaxing to end your day running along those beautiful oranges and golds in the sky. It’s almost poetic.
Do an out-and-back long run: by only running out let’s say 4 miles and turning around it makes the run seem shorter and more manageable. When choosing the distance for the long run, it should be about ¼ to ⅓ of your daily mileage and at a moderate/easy pace. Don’t push yourself too hard with the pace, take the time to slow down and flow through the mileage.
Reaching new distances is always exciting and creates a sense of accomplishment, so go out there and enjoy those long runs because they help not only the body but also the mind. Running long and far keeps you in touch with yourself and maybe you will like it more than you think? 🙂