You probably know that I am runner, and I would say that I am a fairly experienced runner. I’m not fast, but I have consistently been running marathons for almost twenty years. I share this with you so that as you read this week’s runner’s tip, maybe you will take it with slightly more than a grain-of-salt. Actually, each runner is different, so I take that back; take this tip with a grain-of-salt.
This weekend, my running schedule included a three-and-a-half-hour run and a two-and-a-half-hour run. For the longer of the two, I did what I usually do; I went out-and-back. I love the out-and-back because there is no thinking involved. If you are scheduled to run 4 miles, it’s 2 miles out and 2 miles straight back on the same route. It is simple which makes it a good one. This is the perfect type of run in new areas because you won’t get lost. However, the out-and-back can get a little boring, which is why I want to share this week’s runner’s tip.
Break It Up Into Segments
What do I mean by segments? Let’s go back to that 4 mile run. If it feels far, intimidating, or that you just have no desire to run four miles, break it down into segments. You probably know how far a mile is. Just focus on that one mile. If you are in an area where you can run one mile in one neighborhood, hop over to another one, run a mile in it, and so forth, your run will be over in no time. This may require a couple of loops in one neighborhood or even an out-and-back, but if you are able to break down the run and change up the scenery, the run could be more interesting and more manageable.
If you are a new runner, breaking it into segments can prove to be even more important. Your goal may be to get to the end of the block, to the entrance to your neighborhood, or even a small loop. Finish the one segment; don’t think about the next one, and when it’s time to begin the next one, begin it. The most important thing you can do is focus on the current segment without thinking about the next one.
After a three-and-a-half-hour run on Friday, I needed to use this segmenting idea on Sunday. The thought of running two-and-a-half hours so soon after the other long run, seemed like too much. Step one: just start. My first segment was a nice, flat stroll to the beach. I did this loop twice. I didn’t think about needing to go two more hours. I just focused on getting to the beach. Then, I hopped over into the village, and I did a couple of loops there. My focus was on the village. It was no longer on the beach, and it wasn’t on the next segment either. When I was done with my two loops in the village, I headed up a hill and into a valley. This segment would be the longest, but I broke this segment down into other segments as well. First, I just needed to get up the hill. Then, I needed to make a loop in the valley. I didn’t think about the beach, the village, or the fact that I was going to have to go up a hill to get out of the valley. I JUST focused on the part of the segment that I was running. Once I got up, down, and into the valley, I knew I was almost done. I finished the loop, did the climb out, and headed home. By the time I got home, I looked at my time, and I had run two hours and thirty-three minutes. It went by quickly, and I think it was because I didn’t look at it as a long run, but instead I looked at it as several manageable segments.
Whether you are a beginner, looking to build on your mileage, or an ultra-distance runner, this idea of breaking it down can work for you. The hardest part is just starting. The next most challenging part is to remember to focus on the segment you are running. Once you figure out how to do this, the possibilities are endless.
Good luck and have fun out there.