5 Tricks for Running Farther

Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the CocoaVia® Live Your Life with Heart campaign. I was compensated for my time.

Hi, guys!

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.

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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!

SAMSUNG CSC

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.†

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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!

tricks for running farther

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! 🙂

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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.

32 Comments

  1. For me, I get in the zone mentally where in not thinking so much about what I’m doing or how far I’m going. I start thinking about a problem I need to solve or what items I need to tackle on my to-do. That helps take the focus off what I’m doing while making the time zip by.

  2. I’m training for the NYC marathon and what motivates me on long runs is mixing things up – run different routes than the shorter weekday runs – I live in Nova Scotia – so there are lots of beautiful views and waterfront country roads. I listen to audio books and my favourite type of runs are when I run to a point and someone is there to pick me up! It means I have a reason to finish plus I can grab a coffee on the way home! In the summer, take advantage of jumping in the water at the end for the ultimate cool down and I personally find counting KMs much easier than miles. You get to check more off, more often = very rewarding! Happy trails.

  3. I definitely use all of these tricks – especially breaking up the distance into smaller sections. I love to yell out (especially if I’m running with a friend) “Only 3 5K’s left to go!” or “We’re over the halfway point!” – it’s fun and silly and makes me feel better when I’m doing 12/15/18 miles

  4. Mental tips: When I want to give up I tell myself “run for those that cannot run” and if I’m running a hard run and want to stop I tell myself “as soon as I’m done I’ll feel great and the pain will instantly go away (burning legs, heavy breathing, etc). (funny I used that same mentality when I was in labor!)

    Physical: Hydration the day and night before, especially in summer heat! And some carbs/protein before a long run, usually oatmeal with peanut butter and a banana (my go to meal before a long distance race, never lets me down!)

  5. I do some of these, too! I like playing the distance game. If I’m struggling I break down my mileage into different scenarios – 4KM out of 12KM? I’m 25% done/that’s only 8 more to go/8 more is 1/3 of a half marathon.

    Then I play a different version of the destination game. I’m tired and I want to walk? Let’s make it to the corner/furthest light post/etc and then you have a little break. Usually that first destination becomes a second, then a third, etc., before I actually need to walk.

    I also love podcasts and audio books. Sometimes even a perfectly crafted playlist will do the trick.

  6. I’ve run 40 marathons now and I still have to break up the distance during the race (or training!) because if I don’t, the distance seems so daunting. That’s the first thing I tell people when they want to run something that is a long distance (for them, that’s different for everyone!). If the number seems like too much to get your head around, break it into bits. It’s also good to remember that you don’t start out running 20 miles, you start out running one or two! There’s a build up for a reason!

  7. lol my gus/gels are a motivation for me. I continue to repeat myself and think of what mile marker/destination I will have my next gu/gel packet. 🙂

  8. Would you consider doing a post on safety tips for runners? With the recent murders of three female runners (MI, NY, MA) all during daylight hours I’m now nervous about running solo (some days there just isn’t anyone to run with and I’ve resorted to my treadmill for now). Its made me and some of my runner friends depressed and anxious about running. I’ve considered getting a license to carry mace but wasn’t sure what other tools and tips there may be out there for us runners to protect ourselves. Thanks!

    1. Girl, I have no advice… other than the usual things you’ve probably heard before. I’m freaked out too and recently looked into getting some mace as well. I typically run in a somewhat secluded area, and I’m starting to think I might not run there anymore (or maybe only during rush hour when more people are around). I love running because it’s my time to relax and unwind, and now I think I’m always going to be on high alert.

      1. @Tina: I know, I love running too for the mere fact that its “my time” . I’ve decided that if I run outside it will need to be during rush hour as well if I’m solo. I saw a product by “tiger lady”, its this claw like device you can keep in your hand for $30, I may purchase it for peace of mind. I’ve also see some mace “gel” that you can wear on your wrist that I may look into, first step I guess is going to the police department to get my license to carry. I just hate that I have to think about these things 🙁 Stay safe!

  9. Hi Tina,
    Love your blog, long time reader. I was wondering if you’re having any issues with your blog. Lately when I read the advertisement at the top pushes the “carrots n cake” header down and it’s cutting off the first portion of the entry. Is it me or somethings going on? Just thought I would ask.
    Thanks

  10. My no. 1 go-to tip for running longer is to distract the brain. I’m not really big on running, but I do like to get out in the outdoors more often, so I prepare myself for the long haul ahead by getting my favorite podcasts or audiobooks ready before a run. Oh, and I also recommend trying to run somewhere in nature. I just like the feeling of being among the trees and the plants and the dirt roads better than running on a cold, hard track oval. 🙂

  11. Hi, Tina! New-ish reader here. When I started distance running, I tried to gradually increase my runs by landmark (and I still do the landmark trick on tough runs!). For example, since it looks like you’ve got family in my home state of Oregon 🙂 “I’ll run to/across one more bridge on the Portland east bank esplanade” or for me especially at home in Chicago, “to just one more Lakeshore Dr. exit”. Oftentimes the landmarks look closer than they are and once you’re on the way too late to turn back! Love your blog 🙂

  12. Hi, Great piece of information over here. From my point of view, The best way to increase your running capacity and be able to further than you can now is to focus on good recovery. Good recovery comes from a good diet, stretching and sufficient sleep. Focusing on this will able you to recover between sessions and go into each run feeling strong. Just do remember, sleep is the most important thing to do such activities successfully.

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