Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the CocoaVia® Live Your Life with Heart campaign. I was compensated for my time.
My friends who aren’t long-distance runners always ask me how I’m able to run so far for so long. Like a lot of runners though, I started out running only a mile or two at a time. In college, I got into a regular running routine, but I never ran more than 5 or 6 miles at once.
When I decided to train for my first marathon, it was not easy. At all. I got side stitches, took walking breaks, and experienced plenty of frustration. But I kept with it and pushed myself to run farther and farther each time I went out for a training run. Over time, I learned how to mentally prepare myself for long runs and, eventually, those double-digit distances weren’t so daunting.
I also learned that when it came to running, especially for a goal as huge as a marathon, the more I put into my training, the more I got out of it. Committing to my training plan was key to my success and focusing my energy, enthusiasm, and heart was essential to achieving my goal. It made crossing the finish line on race day one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
Whether it’s training for a marathon, advancing your career, or spending time with your family, you can live your life to its fullest, which is why I am so excited to partner with CocoaVia® on their “Live Your Life with Heart” campaign since it helps you be and feel your best by promoting healthy blood flow and overall wellness.
CocoaVia® is super convenient (it comes in powdered stick packs and capsules) and tastes like dark chocolate (or Cran-Raspberry, one of the flavors), so it’s an easy addition to my everyday life. I like adding CocoaVia® to my morning iced coffee, protein shakes, and smoothies!
Never heard of CocoaVia®? Well, let me tell you more! It’s a daily cocoa extract supplement that delivers your body a high concentration of cocoa flavanols. You know all of those health benefits associated with chocolate? They actually come from the cocoa flavanols, not from the percent cacao or the darkness of the chocolate. Cocoa flavanols are plant-based nutrients (aka phytonutrients) found naturally in cocoa and studies indicate that cocoa flavanols promote a healthy heart by supporting healthy blood flow.†
Long-distance running is such a mental game for me. Physically, I know my body is capable to tackling longer distances, but sometimes it’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around the mileage. Over the years, however, I’ve learned that digging deep and utilizing a number of mental tricks are important for getting me through my long runs. Here are five of my go-to tactics and, hopefully, they will help you run farther, achieve you goals, and, ultimately, live your life to its fullest and with heart!
Play the number games
One of my tried-and-true tricks for mentally tackling my long runs is splitting the distance into smaller mileage. For a 12-mile run, for example, I’ll break up the mileage into four 3-mile runs, which seem so much more manageable. Thinking about running 12 miles in a row is overwhelming, but when I break it up, those shorter distances seem so much more do-able.
Pick a destination
Similar to my suggestion above, instead of thinking about a long run in total mileage, I think about how I can split up the distance by planning specific destinations into my running route. For instance, I’ll run two miles to the school down the road and then another three to the park and then back to my house. Having a destination in mind makes the miles fly by because I’m constantly thinking about running to the next destination instead of obsessing over the time or distance. It’s also fun to run to a food destination, like iced coffee or brunch with friends! 🙂
Distract your brain
I love, love, love listening to podcasts during my long runs. I swear, there’s nothing better than a long run and podcast for my mental sanity. A new episode of one of my favorite podcasts can literally get me out the door for a run. Plus, listening and being totally engrossed in the podcast helps me run for a longer period of time. I never want to stop midway through and, often times, I’ll keep running until the episode is over. With a good podcast, the miles just end up flying by!
Find a mantra that keeps you going
Motivational mantras always do the trick during a long run, especially when I’m struggling. On really tough runs (or when running up a big hill), I like to repeat my favorite running mantras in my head over and over to keep me going. Some favorites: “You’re stronger than you think” and “demand more of yourself.” Sometimes, a little self-talk is all I need to keep trucking along.
Imagine yourself on race day
This trick is a little cheesy, but it always helps me through those final miles of my long run: I envision myself on race day. (Actually, I envision myself on Comm Ave during the Boston Marathon!) During the end of a race, I would never let myself stop and walk, especially with all of those spectators watching me. So I pretend that I’m running in a race, feeling strong, powerful, and determined, which helps me toughen up and push myself through the hardest parts of my run.
Question of the Day
What’s your go-to trick for running farther?
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.