I do a lot of my training with a group, running whenever I can with a clinic or our Run Club at the Running Room. I like meeting up with the group at the start, chatting about the run and even though we sometimes split up a bit out on the road, it’s nice knowing that other people are doing the same run that day.

At the start of my solo 23km on Sunday

However, with busy lives and marathon training over the summer, some runs need to be done solo. A quick 8k? No problem! Some solo speed work? Yeah, sure! But a solo 30km? That’s not always so
easy to get excited about now is it?

This past weekend I faced my first long solo run in awhile – 23km. We were spending the weekend on the island with my husband’s family and unfortunately all of the roads around their house are pretty hilly! Can’t say I was all that jazzed about this one.

The first time I had to do one of my long runs alone I was kind of intimidated. Over the years I’ve gotten used to the longer distances by myself and have found ways to get excited about just me and the road for hours on end. This weekend I really had to put those ideas to use!

Thought I’d share in case you ever struggle with this too!

1. Get ‘er done early

I know we all prefer either morning or evening but when it comes to runs I’m less-than-excited about I like to do them first thing in the day so that I can get ‘er done and then feel good for the rest of the day.

The roads were pretty nice and quiet at 6:30 in the morning!

2. Find a virtual run buddy

I did this for the first time this weekend because Krista too was running her 23km solo. We decided to text each other throughout the run and it totally gave me something to look forward to. It wasn’t the most in depth conversation but it was nice to check my phone and find out how her run was going.


3. Document your run in pictures

I usually take pictures during my runs because I like to use them in blog posts but a few times I’ve made it my mission to take lots of neat pics along the way. When you’re spending your time looking out for cool pictures the kms pass by quite nicely. Even better, post them to Instagram along the way and share your journey.

4. Update your playlist

I don’t know about you but a few new songs on my playlist can do wonders for my motivation. When you’re running alone for several hours its nice to have a good long list of favourites.

5. Try slow songs too

I think most people find fast music more motivating but for long runs I actually enjoy listening to slower songs. They help me keep my pace in check instead of trying to speed up to get the lonely run done and then burning out from going to fast. The object of most long runs is to slow down and cover the distance – listening to some of my favourite slower songs really lets me get lost in the music and pass the kms away.

I found it pretty easy to get relaxed and in the zone when this was my scenery

6. Promise yourself a post-run treat

For this run, I was excited because I had a new product to try when I was done. In a recent subscription box I got a PowerICE electrolyte freezer pop so I brought it to the island with us to save for after the run. Knowing I had a yummy freezie at the end was a nice little incentive and let me say, it was super delicious!

7. Plan a new route

We all have our favourite routes to run but when I have a long solo run ahead I like to try and find a new route to run. Maybe head over into a different city, go north when you usually go south or go explore some fancy neighbourhoods along the way. This weekend was perfect because I was running in my husband’s hometown so the whole thing was pretty much new to me on foot! Sadly, there were lots and lots of hills…

8. Watch for wildlife

Maybe your area isn’t very wooded but I had fun picking out all the creatures along my run. Cats, dogs, dragonflies, ponies, hitchhikers, turkeys. Yes, turkeys. It’s pretty interesting when you pay attention to what kinds of animals people have in their yards!

Have you ever done any of these things before? What kinds of things do you do to make your long solo runs more bearable?

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  1. Amy Good    

    Great post and great ideas! I definitely go with a new route when I can. Sadly, I did end up doing all of my long runs solo for my marathon training due to my pace and no one else training. I did, however, do a few of the long runs where a friend started out with me for the first 5 or so miles. I found that very inspiring and more bearable.

    1. Nikki Scott    

      I did quite a few of my last marathon training cycle by myself and really did grow to love them. It’s always nice when a friend can join you for at least part!

  2. steveR    

    Great ideas for long, solo runs. But I must be the complete opposite. I did a solo 27k this past weekend, no GPS, no music, no texting, but a phone in my back pocket for emergencies. The run was on new roads, so that was great. How did I keep from going crazy, well, just started singing songs in my head over and over, looked at all the scenery, read every house address and car license plate!! I kind of like these long solo runs, my time to completely tune out, and disconnect from mankind.

    Happy running!

    1. Nikki Scott    

      I love it! I’ve had some where I go the opposite too. That’s the beauty of running, every run can be so different depending on what you feel like you need that day!

  3. Suz and Allan    

    I love running solo and I do most of these except run with music. It’s nice to run and enjoy the scenery and the quiet.

    1. Nikki Scott    

      I agree, I love those totally quiet runs. Is it weird that even with my music on I still feel peaceful out there sometimes?

  4. Diana Martinez    

    I’ve been running for a year and a half, and I have only run with another person twice…. So I’m rather used to being on my own! 23km is a long way by yourself – the longest I’ve done is 12 miles, which is.. um… 19? kms. I don’t run with music, or a phone/camera, so basically I just talk to myself. Sometimes out loud. LOL

    I love the idea of having a text buddy during a long run, though. =)

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