Top Five Ways to Stay Motivated During A Long Run

Health & FitnessExercise & Meditation

  • Author Ramona Swanberg
  • Published April 12, 2012
  • Word count 567

Have you ever set out to do a long run and found yourself struggling to complete it? I certainly have. This happens to all of us, whether it’s our first distance event or our fifteenth marathon. Here are five ways that I’ve discovered to keep myself motivated.

  1. Listen to Music. Not just any music, but the music that motivates you to keep moving. Love bopping to the Buddy Holly? Dancing to Duran Duran? Freestyling to Fleetwood Mac? Translate these musical passions into running while wearing an MP3 player or iPod. Set up your playlists—or get your kids to do it for you—with your most inspirational songs set to play when you need them the most (near the end of your run, in most cases).

  2. Place Food or Drink Along Your Proposed Route. If you know the path you’ll be taking, stash supplies along the way. A bottle of Accelerade in the bushes where no one will see it at Mile 8. A cache of Cliff Shot Bloks on the porch of a friend’s house at Mile 15. In this way, you’ll have something to anticipate, and as a fringe benefit, you won’t burden yourself by carrying them for miles.

  3. Get A Great Sports Watch. Invest in a fancy GPS sports watch, such as one in the Garmin Forerunner series. Wearing these watches not only gives you exact knowledge of the distance you’ve run, but it distracts you from thinking about how tired you are. Use the digital pace partners to keep yourself motivated. Keep an eye on the calories you’re burning as you go. Use the heart rate monitor to evaluate your level of exertion. I myself simply love knowing precisely how many calories I’ve burned. During my run, I daydream about the food I might consume later to make up for the deficit.

  4. Wear Fun Hi-Tech Clothes. Remember what your speech teacher always said? If you look confident, then others will listen to what you say. If you dress the part of a serious runner, others will treat you like a serious runner, and you’ll believe it yourself. Invest in fun running clothes that fit well so you don’t have to think about them riding up or chafing in the middle of a long run. Enjoy dressing like an athlete, and then enjoy getting all hot and sweaty in them! People on the street will notice you and admire your dedication. You’re sure to inspire at least one pedestrian during the course of your long run!

  5. Enlist Your Running Friends. For those longest of long runs, consider asking a running friend to meet you at the halfway point. Set a time and a place to meet (see how wearing a sports watch makes sense?). You’ll notice how this keeps you motivated to keep up your pace in order to be on time to that 10-mile marker. Have the friend bring along a fresh water bottle, some Gu Gel Shots, or a tube of fresh sunblock, and you’ll be doubly motivated!

Whether you are training for an ultra, a marathon or a half marathon, you need to use all your wiles to keep yourself on track. I’ve used these five methods to good effect during 20 years of long distance running, and I hope they will help you during your own long runs.

Ramona Swanberg runs marathons, ultra-marathons, and half-marathons for fun and fitness. Twenty years of running the solitary prairie trails of Illinois has given her lots of time to think about running. Find a wealth of running tips and sports watches at

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