I discovered this last spring in my previous round of half training. Usually, for my long runs, I will go out to the greenway and just do an out-and-back: run half my miles in one direction, then turn around and come back. This is not mentally easy. I am constantly saying to myself on the first half, “Ugh, I’m not even to the halfway point yet.”
Then one weekend, I needed to put fourteen miles in and I was on a portion of the greenway that I could only get eight out of without repeating part of it. So I decided to add the additional miles on another part of the greenway that branches off. I put those miles in the middle of my run to break up the monotonous out-and-back. And it was so much easier.
I did this again on my ten miler this past weekend. Here is a map to demonstrate what I’m talking about:
I started at point A. I then ran to point B, which is an intersection. Then to point C, where I turned around and went back to point B. Then I did an out-and-back to point D before running back to the start. However, I still needed two more miles, so I did another out-and-back to point E. Whenever I reached one of these points, I took a quick one minute walk break and drank some water. All I ever concentrated on was getting to the next point. I never was looking at my watch and thinking, “I’ve only done three miles?!”
It requires a little bit of planning beforehand, but I think it’s much less daunting to think about just running a mile or two instead of the whole long run.