I love long walks and runs, but I don't tend to go on many of them for one reason: I get bored. Walking 8km (or 16) is boring. My Pandora playlist and podcasts can only keep me so entertained, and after 3km I tend to get distracted enough about things I need or want to do at home that I call it quits. At the gym, I came up with a solution for this by watching a TV show or movie on my iPad. Outside, which is my preference, I started walking to destinations.
I did my first destination-based marathon maybe a decade ago. I had signed up for a Nike+ Half Marathon back in the day before everyone had a Fitbit. My Nike+ tracker fit in the bottom of my running shoes. The virtual nature of the marathon (you could do it from wherever) enticed me to sign up (it was the future!), but as the race day approached, I realised my patience to run would probably only last 10km. Twenty-one kilometres sounded like torture, not from a physical perspective, but from a sheer time on the road one. And then I came up with the idea of splitting the trip up between destinations.
Since then I've incorporated destination into a lot of my workouts, and I think it's made me much more willing to do them.
With the destination-based half marathon, I broke the 21km up into a few different stops. I started at 7AM at my house and ran downtown, which was roughly 8km. Downtown I picked up breakfast, and then I walked another 5km to the local farmer's market. I picked up some things there, and walked them home. After that, I was maybe 5km from success, 5km that I ran to meet some friends for a late lunch. I made it 21km, but it didn't feel like 21km. I also had people meet me at a few destinations. A group did that first run with me, and a few others met us for breakfast and walked to the farmer's market.
I've never done a full destination-based half marathon again (although I've come close), but I have built workouts into my daily errands. There's a grocery store a few kilometres from my house I really like, and I always walk there when I need to shop rather than drive. Round trip, that means I've walked almost 8km, longer than I likely would have if I'd just gone out for a walk without a destination in mind. The trick also works for planned hikes, where I know I'm shooting for a waterfall or overlook.
Yes, it would be better if I just ran the whole thing, but I've accepted that running and walking long distances is just something I'm not going to do. My runs are much better when they're done just a kilometres at a time. For longer journeys, when I have a destination in mind there's a finish line of sorts that I'm striving for which makes things easier, even though that finish line is also a starting line for the next leg.
If you're having trouble pushing yourself to go that extra kilometre (or 11) then it's something I'd recommend giving a try.
Have any tips of your own for getting the motivation for longer walks and runs? Share them in the comments.