10 Ways to Occupy Your Mind During a Long Run

Use these strategies to take your mind off the boring aspects of long-distance running.

Let's be honest: Running isn't for everyone. Some people can't get enough of it; others run only because they know it's good for them. More simply avoid the discipline altogether.

What is it people don't like about running? Usually, it's the fact that they have to cover long distances for the benefits, and it's often pretty boring.

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When you have nothing to distract your mind from the exertion, it's easy to dwell on the aches, pains and discomforts of running: your shoes are too tight; the sun is too hot; it's only been three minutes??

People who want the benefits of running but don't love the process need something to take their minds off the exercise. Here are some suggestions.

1. Save Your Thinking Time

Given the chaos of work and home life, you might feel you don't often have enough time to think in your day for mental stability. So reserve your thoughts for your next run. It can be incredibly stress-relieving and rewarding to ponder and meditate on the things that are important to you as the miles go by.

2. Solve a Complex Problem

When you're facing a particularly stressful problem, use your running time to get to the bottom of it. As you move across the land or city streets, you'll be able to talk yourself through the situation and maybe come back to it with new eyes.

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3. Take a New Route Every Day

Running on the treadmill or following the same route every day can be especially dull. But if you take a new route each day, it should give you something to look at and explore—and keep your mind off the effort. If you download an app like MapMyRun, you'll be able to track the distance of your workout without having to track it beforehand.

4. Memorize Songs

If you're into singing along with your iTunes, use your running time to brush up on the latest hits or your old faves. You're less likely to obsess about the run when you're focusing on the lyrics of a song played on repeat.

5. Turn on an Intense Audio Book

Download a good suspense/thriller novel to listen to while jogging. As the action gets more intense, you're likely to run faster and better without realizing it.

6. Get Inspired with a Podcast

If you can't get enough of podcasts and inspirational speeches, listening to one on your run might be the stimulus you need to keep going.

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7. People-Watch

Try running in an area where there's apt to be lots of people. Make a game out of trying to guess their stories.

8. Have a Reward at the End

Get a group of friends together for an early morning run and have breakfast afterwards. Any kind of incentive can encourage you not only to run more efficiently, but also just to get out the door when you might otherwise stay curled up in bed.

9. Talk on the Phone

You might not be able to say much during these conversations, but other people will. Call a couple of different people using hands-free accessories and ask them to tell you the most interesting parts of their day. All you have to do is mumble the occasional "uh-huh" and listen intently to keep your mind off the task at hand.

10. Watch a Movie

If you don't mind running on the treadmill, turn on a movie. Most treadmills have handy ledges where you can place a phone or tablet so you can watch something as you move.

If you're like most people, you feel great after a run, but maybe not so good during it. Taking your mind off the exercise and doing something else to occupy your mind can make the experience much more enjoyable.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: MOTIVATION | MENTAL TOUGHNESS | RUNNING