As we all know, the benefits of low-intensity training are unquestionable. Those long, slow endurance runs form the base for high-intensity training, improving our capacity to take air in and out and helping us to use fat as an energy source instead of quickly disappearing glycogens. But sometimes, they can get a little boring, and you’re left wondering how to make running fun again.
It’s important when you start logging those miles that you prepare yourself for it to get mentally tough and boring. To help you with those two+ hour runs, we asked running coach Carita Riutta how she makes those long endurance sessions go by faster. Bring these tips with you next you head out, so the road never feels too long.
TRY A NEW ROUTE
Our simplest tip: try a new route! It might require some extra planning, but it pays to take a minute or two to plan a new route beforehand.
One good option is to make the route one-way: pack your gear and take a bus or a train somewhere and run or bike back home.
If changing your route doesn’t do it for you, be adventurous and try changing the surface. For example, a typical road runner can go off-road and give trail running a try.
There are some fantastic apps to help find trails near you. We recommend checking out Komoot, as you can connect your Polar running or outdoors watch to their app for turn-by-turn guidance on the trail.
Remember to be careful, however: a new surface might make new muscles sore.
DO IT IN LOOPS
Running in endless loops might sound dreary, but cutting a long endurance session into sections can help. You can, for instance, do a 9-mile-long run in 3-mile loops, which shifts your focus.
This is also a good trick when preparing for your next race: set up a drinking/fueling station in one location on your route and practice fueling.
LISTEN TO MUSIC, PODCASTS, OR AN AUDIOBOOK
Music really does make running fun. It’s amazing how the right soundtrack can you through an epically long run. Prepare in advance by creating a playlist of your favorite running songs before your next long training session. Or, listen to one of our curated BPM playlists on Spotify!
Ultramarathon runner Imo Boddy finds music a little too repetitive on long runs and prefers podcasts instead (true crime ones are her faves). Alternatively, give an audiobook a try and get into a story while working out.
Don’t forget: you can play, pause, and skip tracks and episodes directly from your Polar watch with Music Controls.
BUY NEW RUNNING GEAR
This tip is for all of you who get a kick from trying out new things!
Whether it’s fresh tights, an armband, or a new running watch, one of the best ways to test your new fave gear is to take it for a nice long tour. However, be mindful of the distance when you’re breaking in new running shoes though, to give your body time to adjust.
PLAY SOME MENTAL GAMES
If your mind is playing tricks on you, maybe it’s time for payback. Play a mental game called “How long can I go without looking at the time.” Choose a training view on your Polar watch that only shows your heart rate and hide the duration and distance.
Instead of letting your mind run through the list of things you need to do after your run or whatever is stressing you out at work, try to present.
Focus your thoughts and eyes on your surroundings. Tune in with the beauty of nature or the architecture on your run.
This way of running is a form of mindfulness, which will not only help those 70-second minutes slip back down to 50, but it can also help you feel more relaxed in your everyday life.
JOIN A RUNNING CLUB OR SIMPLY RUN WITH A FRIEND
Why not socialize during your next long endurance training session? Go online and find a running club, team, or training group near you and join their common runs or rides.
If you are not a groupie, simply call a friend and ask them to join you. If your friend cannot handle the same distance, do a loop and catch up later during the training session.
CROSS-TRAIN AND COMBINE DIFFERENT SPORTS
Did you know that mixing up your runs with other workouts can improve your form and make running fun? Try adding some crosstraining sessions (such as cycling, swimming, or strength training) to your long runs so they start to feel like a mini-triathlon.
Alternatively, add in some circuit training to make your long run into a hybrid workout.
You can also switch up your long run with a bike ride. The benefits are the same, and in fact, you may find that cycling can make you a better runner. Just remember to ease the pace in an unfamiliar sport.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.