A 3-mile run: perfect amount of time to process your day.
A 5-mile run: perfect amount of time to process your day + daydream.
An 8-mile run: perfect amount of time to process your day, daydream, and, as your legs tire, wonder why you thought taking on a half-marathon was such a good idea, anyway.
As the length of your training runs increase, an odd algorithm can happen: Your boredom level can go up, while your enthusiasm nosedives. Your steps feel the same (hard and slow), but your Garmin can’t emit its one-mile-is-up beep fast enough. Here are some great ways to kill the time—and the miles:
1. A good friend to run with you. Use the time as a healthy happy hour (or two) to relive bad dates, talk about family drama, rehash the latest Kardashian drama, and otherwise laugh and connect.
2. If you don’t have one friend who can cover all the miles, line up one or two to go a few miles with you. Figure out an easy place and time to meet him/her in your route. If there’s a choice, opt to have somebody join you toward the end, when you might be dragging, instead of the fresh-out-of-the-gate start of your run.
3. Don’t retrace those steps; try a new route instead.
4. Tackle a trail; the twists and turns will make you feel like you’re in a video game and the time will fly by. If you need a recommendation for a route or ask for suggestions at a local running or outdoor shop. Because trails are physically more taxing than running on pavement, run for time instead of miles. If an 8-mile run usually takes you roughly an hour and a half on pavement, run for 90 minutes on trails and don’t worry about how much distance you covered.
5. Download a book onto your iPod. Although it may seem like the gothic twists of Cathy and Heathcliff’s doomed love might not fire you up, you’ll actually get lost in the story and the miles will tick by. Many public libraries offer free book downloads, or check out this site for a bunch of links to ebooks.
6. Not up for committing to a whole book? Try a podcast, which can range from the serious (60 Minutes) to the compelling (This American Life) to the inspiring (She Runs It Podcast) Not sure where to start? Try this tutorial from iTunes.
7. If you’re on a busy route, play road-trip games, either by yourself or with a running pal. Anybody who can remember all 26 letters of the picnic game (“I’m going on a picnic, and bringing apples, bananas, corn on the cob, doughnuts, edamame…”) gets to stop running a mile early. Just kidding.
8. Create a special memory-evoking playlist, like songs from your high school career or the number one hits from each year of your life. Not only will you know every lyric, but you’ll also relive some past experiences as you trot along. Another option: the full score of a Broadway musical (Hamilton, anyone?)