If you're anything like me, it's a
dramatic understatement to say that
training for a half or a full marathon can be difficult at times.
Often, especially during longer training runs, I find myself counting
distances or time segments like I'm counting sheep. And when it rains
or is anywhere close to being cold outside, it's easy to find an excuse
to end your run early, especially if you're feeling the pain of an 8,
10, or 12-mile long run.
That's why it always helps to have some tricks up your sleeve to help
get you through the long runs. For me, it's important to establish a
set of "mental rewards" for finishing my long runs, a little prize if
you will for getting through the back stretches of a training run.
Bear in mind that these are tips for beginners, but can help just about
anyone who's training for a half, whether you're an experienced runner
or not. In that spirit, here's a few of the tips I practice that may
help you as you're training for your upcoming race:
If you're like me during the cold winter months, it's hard to want to
get outside for a training run, even if it's your weekly long run. I
find myself stopping off at my gym for treadmill runs to mark off my
weekday runs, a task that can easily become boring without some sort of
stimulation like a TV or music.
So I block of my time in segments of 10 minutes – assuming a
10-minute mile or faster, I gauge that every ten minutes equals one
mile, and by listening to 2 or 3 songs and marking that I'm half-way or
two-thirds of the way through my run, I'm that much closer to the
finish line. It can even be the music I listen to – the first
side of "The Joshua Tree" is an easy way for me to mark off the first
few miles mentally.
Placing water breaks at the quarter-length, half-way point and
three-quarter-length portions of your training run is also an excellent
way to give yourself a small reward (a water break!) and to mark off
your distance. This works well when you're training with a group
outdoors, especially when you're doing an out-and-back run over a
Be careful to drink enough, but also not to
drink too much water during your training runs – you want
your body to become accustomed to the amount of water and nutrients
you'll be putting into it during the race. So, try to do the same thing
with each training run so your body won't be "surprised" come race day.
One of the great things about the day and age we live in, as shameless
a plug as this may sound, is the mp3 player. I can't tell you how much
it's helped my ability to stay pumped up during my runs, especially
when I have just the right music to help keep me energized while I run.
Putting it on shuffle, however, can easily bring up the theme song from
some old TV show I have saved.
That's why it's a great idea to create a
playlist of your favorite running songs with energizing songs in the
later tracks of the list, to give you a boost when you need it most in
the second half of your run.