I love running really long distances. Ultra races are the focus of my annual running calendar. I enjoy counting down the days till my next race (i.e. see widget to the right). The build up. The anticipation. It’s like Christmas season all year long for me.

But my maintenance 20 mile long runs? Yeah, not so much.

I’m being a little overdramatic with the title to this post. I don’t quite dread my 3+ hour runs, however they’re typically not the highpoint of my running week. They’re basically the green beans of my training diet.

Here are some tips to make your long runs just a little more appetizing.

  1. Run in a new place. The more like an adventure you can make your long run, the more interested you’ll be in lacing up your shoes.
  2. Wear new clothes or use new gear. Who doesn’t like to feel pretty?
  3. Listen to new music/podcast. This will help distract you from the miles.
  4. Run at a different time of day. Thinking of the logistics will help make this feel like an adventure, too.
  5. Treat yourself to an extra dessert/beer/slice of pizza after you finish. You know you deserve it.

Basically, all of the above boil down to variety is the spice of life. The reason why my long runs feel like such a chore is I do the same routes over and over again. At the same time on the same day even. What I should do is mix things up a bit, but that would require some effort. So I just do what I’ve always done. And yes, I realize it’s more than a little ironic to be so lazy about running 20 miles.

I used #3 last weekend. The new music helped me look forward to the run a little bit, but I still procrastinated heading out the door. An extra stop to the bathroom here, a top up of my bottles there, a little extra chitchat with my wife in the kitchen.

I should probably emphasize that my long runs themselves are rather uneventful. Once I get warmed up, I’m usually able to get into a groove and knock out the miles. Some long runs are faster than others and some are more of a mental slog, but none are “hard”. Nothing like when I started running. And before I know it (almost), I’m counting down the last couple miles and am back at my house.

I should choose another option above for my last long run before Greenbrier this weekend. But I can’t quite summon the motivation. And I only have one last 20 miler left. If that’s not something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.