There’s no way around it: Long runs can be... long. Seriously, seriously long. But if you’re training for a race—whether it’s a 10K, a half-marathon, or the full 26—there’s no option to cut down the physical distance you have to traverse on those long-run days.
However, there are ways to make the time fly. Take it from ladies who spend their evenings and weekends logging kilometres. Use their tricks for taking the boring out of the distance and you’ll (dare we say it) speed through that lengthy date with the pavement.
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LOOP AROUND AN AREA YOU LOVE
“One trick I use to spice up my long run is to pick a destination where I either have a landmark I want to see or an errand to run and create a running loop based on that. The goal of seeing that landmark or completing the errand gives the run extra purpose. I currently live in Boston, so one destination I venture to is Fenway Park—creating a route from my neighbourhood to Fenway allows me to see a good deal of the city and makes the run feel more like a tourist experience than a chore.” —Samantha Scarpato, 29, a sales and marketing director in Boston, MA
BUILD A POWER PLAYLIST
"Long runs can be daunting when race training... especially if your weekly program leaves you logging kilometres on the weekend. That being said, training can be a little less stressful when paired with a power playlist to tackle each kilometre. I have found this to be the catalyst in getting me out on the road and genuinely excited to log kilometres. My method? Spend the time curating a power playlist throughout the week in an effort to set the tone (and tempo) of your anticipated run." —Ali Martillotta, 27, publicist in New York City
MENTALLY SPLIT UP YOUR RUNS
“I call my 25.75 kilometres my 6.5, 6.5 kilometres which sounds easier mentally. Then, after each 6.5 kilometres, I have a focused activity that gives me a rest period. For example, at kilometre 6.5 I refill my water bottle; at kilometre 12.9, I eat a peanut butter and jelly; at kilometre 19, I take a bathroom break and get more water; and kilometre 25.75, I make a recover my smoothie.” —Rebecca Scritchfield, 40, author of Body Kindness based in Washington D.C.
REPEAT A MANTRA
“I have a super dumb, embarrassing mantra that I repeat when I get really tired and think I can't keep going. I've never told anyone and only repeat it in my head but I'll say that it follows a popular Dr Seuss rhyme... with profanity. I've added on to it over the years so it's pretty long now. It's silly but it really does help me to chant it, especially when I'm exhausted.” —Charlotte Anderson, 38, writer based in Denver, CO
MAKE IT A ONE-WAY TRIP
“I bring my phone, credit card, and a subway pass (I usually put it in a SPIbelt), and plan to end the run at my endpoint for the day. For me it's sometimes a grocery store, because I never have time to get errands done, or even home in North Jersey to cut out my commute from work. On the weekend, you can also head somewhere fun, where you don't mind being sweaty for a little bit!” —Meggie Sullivan, 29, communications manager in New York City
TAKE IT INDOORS
“Treadmill classes are all the rage right now, and it’s the perfect opportunity to bring your running into a group fitness setting, with a coach to motivate you the whole way! Equinox offers the only method-driven program in the industry, Precision Running. You will be coached through a patterned flow of constantly changing speeds, time, and incline to run smarter, hurt less, and ignite potential! There is never a dull moment!” —Ali Baldassare, 32, group fitness manager at Equinox Franklin Street in Boston, MA
TRY A RADIO SHOW
“I started listening to replays of my favourite funny radio show rather than music! Not sure why, but I find it feels more entertaining than music and distracts me from the actual running. Replays of the Elvis Duran Morning Show on a local radio in NYC can be streamed on iHeart Radio nationally and I have been listening to them for about 15 years! I was never really a runner and once I joined the gym I really needed to find something that would distract me...music just wasn't cutting it.” —Nicole Morelli, 28, marketing manager in New York City
BREAK YOUR RUN INTO INTERVALS
“Try running a little faster than you usually would for three to five minutes and then walking briskly for 30 to 45 seconds. (Don't worry about your pace! If you do it correctly your average pace will be the same as it usually is.) Separating the run into little bite-sized pieces will make the time fly by! The walk breaks also help to make post-run recovery faster. Wins all around!” —Nicole Handler, 29, a freelance writer and creative director living in Austin TX
LISTEN TO A BOOK
“I listen to books on tape. It's the only way I have time to exercise and read in the same day!” —Abby Gregor, 33, lawyer living in Newton, MA
“I used to get so bored on my runs—it didn't matter how awesome my playlists were or how picturesque my routes were. I was on a mission to hit a new PR, timing and tracking every workout. It wasn't until I said, "$#&* it!" and turned off the tracker that my long runs—with the same music and same routes, no less—became fun. I started looking at my runs as a way to explore and experience new things. If I saw a pretty flower bed, I would now stop and smell the flowers. (Cliché, I know.) I'd schedule my long runs to go along the Chicago lakefront path right as the Navy Pier fireworks went off. That way, I'd get a front-and-centre view. I'd stop and take pictures of buildings I had never noticed before. This summer, I've also gotten into running through sprinklers. It makes me feel so care-free. It's about more than ‘distracting’ myself from the boredom or discomfort of running. It's about enjoying all of the experiences that running provides and truly caring for my mind and body.” —K. Aleisha Fetters, 30, online and personal trainer in Chicago, IL
PICK UP FRIENDS ALONG THE WAY
“Do a shorter run with a friend who prefers shorter routes, and then pick up another short-run friend when you drop the first one off!” —Phoebe Wright, a 28, pharmacy student (and former Nike runner) based in Seattle, WA
SPRINKLE IN SOME STRENGTH TRAINING
“Depending on how far you're trying to go, run for five to 10 minutes, then stop and do 20 reps of different exercises like squats, pushups, burpees, or bicycle crunches. Not only does it break up the run, but these exercises will also strengthen stabilising muscles like your glutes and core to help prevent injuries.” —Katie Barrett, 26, an instructor at B/SPOKE Cycling Studios in Boston, MA
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.