Getting Enjoyment from Long Training Runs

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Getting Enjoyment from Long Training Runs by Shane Magee

When training for long-distance races like the marathon, a sense of mental weariness can easily creep into our approach, making the training runs seem more like a chore than something to look forward to. Here are some tips to increasing the enjoyment during training runs:

It is easier to stay happy running to time rather than running to distance.

Instead of saying 'I have to run x miles' you can instead carry a stopwatch and decide to run for a certain length of time.You can then build up your marathon stamina by increasing your running time by 15 minutes on every long run. A distance based approach often limits one to many circuits of the same accurately-measured loop; it is easier to do one big circuit with a time-based approach. The important thing is to turn back for home earlier rather than later; if you complete the loop sooner than you had planned, you can always run for a few extra minutes close to your finishing point.

If your set time elapses a few minutes before you finish the loop, you can stop running and walk to the finish, as walking at the end of the run is of considerable benefit in your recovery. After your first couple of runs, you can look at a map and see roughly what distance you've covered. This will give you a rough idea of what time you'll have to run for to prepare for your race, and then build a racing schedule to work gradually towards that time.

Have a sense of adventure!

The mind gets much more joy if you treat your run like a chance to explore the area where you are running. A time-based running schedule really helps in this regard because you don't have to worry about covering an exact distance. Look at a map and come up with a ballpark route which you can cover in roughly the time. Take in natural parks, places of interest, seaside walks, the list is endless. Go places where you've always wanted to go but never had the time. You could even have runs where when you come to a junction, you just follow the path which immediately suggests itself to you; you can always rely on your clock to tell you when to turn homewards.

If you are running for longer than ninety minutes, be sure to bring some water with you.

Much of the discomfort experienced during running comes from dehydration. In fact, you can go one better and bring an electrolyte drink - many of our natural salts are sweated out during running and need to be replaced. In addition many drinks provide easily digestible carbohydrate content.

Keeping well hydrated before the race is also very helpful.

Twenty-four hours beforehand you can start drinking. It is actually not so helpful to drink a lot of water just before a run as it will all come out again. The crucial period for drinking water is the night before. A good supply of carbohydrates in the system also helps - tucking into a good carbohydrate-based dinner like pasta the day before will increase how energetic you feel the next day.

Introduce variety into your schedule.

An ideal running schedule will consist of tempo runs and short fast runs in addition to the weekly long run. In addition you don't have to go out for a long run every week. You could try instead to pencil in a warm-up race every month: for example, if you are training for the marathon, you could try to find races of 10k, 10 miles and half-marathon spaced about a month apart to join. Some runners even go so far as to say the only serious training they do is in these warm-up races, the other running they do is 'recovery running'.

And finally: an important factor in getting enjoyment from your training is definitely your state of mind. Ruminating over worries and problems during a run can seriosuly affect your motivation and enthusiasm, and your physical body gets affected too. Try to treat the run as a golden opportunity for yourself to put aside the problems for a couple of hours and just have time for yourself. Take joy from your surroundings - the trees, the hills, even the clouds. Calm your mind and feel yourself moving forward. When the mind is still, running gives a sense of how inner stillness and outer power can go hand in hand.

The author, Shane Magee, is a helper with the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, the largest distance running organisation in the world. Article Source.

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