Improving your running endurance often means stepping up the kilometres but sometimes, finding the time and motivation to smash out ever-increasing distances can prove a real challenge.
Here, run coach Dom Cadden shares his sure-fire tips to stay motivated while you’re out on your next run.
BREAK IT UP
Break up your long runs into smaller sections and tick these off as you go – it might be the next signpost or the top of the next hill. Don’t overwhelm yourself by focusing on the total distance ahead; instead, identify a closer point, get there, then choose the next point.
MONITOR YOUR BODY
Pay attention to what you're doing; how your foot hits the ground, your stride, your posture. Are your neck and shoulders relaxed? Are you breathing deeply? How’s your arm swing? Do you need to slow down to pull it all together? Focusing on your movement helps create a rhythm.
SWITCH YOUR ROUTE
Trying new running routes helps to relieve boredom, challenges you with different terrain and allows you to appreciate new surroundings. Even if you don’t change the area in which you run, taking different streets or tracks or just changing the direction of your usual route can make all the difference.
Visualise yourself running strong at the end of a race or training session, and imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel from what you have achieved.
REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU DO THIS
What is your internal motivation? What do these runs give you or enable you to do? Think about the physical and mental benefits of getting out for a run – health, fitness and stress release, to name a few.
Think about when you’ll speed up, slow down, drink and all the what-if scenarios – it will help you stay focused and not fall apart if something unexpected happens. Have a post-run plan, including something great to look forward to after you’re done.
USE A MANTRA
Pick a short phrase that reminds you of the simple things, or how strong you are. A popular one among ultra-runners is, “one foot in front of the other”.
MAKE IT SOCIAL
Try doing an out-and-back run, using a training partner to spur each other on during the out section, and giving one person a headstart on the way back with the other in pursuit. This will drive you to push harder on the return.
LISTEN TO MUSIC
There are many studies into the appropriate music and beats per minute for different activities, but overriding the science is the simple fact that whatever music makes you feel good will help, because it will help lift your mood and attitude
You’ve probably heard of the benefits of glycogen-depletion training, but people who do it will tell you it’s tough both physically and mentally. Unless you’re deliberately doing this – and once a week is enough – make sure you have some carbohydrates in the couple of hours before your run and take simple carbs on the run if you’re out for more than 90 minutes.