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Articles & Tips > Maintaining Your Mental Momentum On Training Runs

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:

Segmenting Your Time

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.

Water Breaks

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 considerable distance.

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.

Create an iPod Playlist

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.

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