Running News Daily

Running News Daily is edited by Bob Anderson in Mountain View, California USA and team in Thika Kenya, La Piedad Mexico, Bend Oregon, Chandler Arizona and Monforte da Beira Portugal.  Send your news items to Advertising opportunities available.   Over one million readers and growing.  Train the Kenyan Way at KATA Running Retreat Kenya.  (Kenyan Athletics Training Academy) in Thika Kenya.  Opening in june 2024 KATA Running retreat Portugal.  Learn more about Bob Anderson, MBR publisher and KATA director/owner, take a look at A Long Run the movie covering Bob's 50 race challenge.  

Index to Daily Posts · Sign Up For Updates · Run The World Feed


Bored on Your Long Run? Here’s Why You Feel That Way—and How to Embrace It

We talked to a psychologist and a professional ultrarunner to understand why you you feel this way—and how to embrace it.

It’s Sunday morning. You roll out of bed, head downstairs, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and munch on a protein bar. Yup, it’s that time of week again—long run day.

Long runs are a staple of training, whether for a 5K or a marathon. But let’s be frank: Despite the benefits, long runs can be pretty boring. While you might normally rely on the company of others—or perhaps even music or a podcast—during your normal runs, those simple escapes just don’t cut it when you’re trotting along for twice as long. Conversation becomes agonizing, pop bangers non-motivating, and true crime dramas stale.

So why, even though it’s one of your most cherished activities, do you sometimes feel overcome with boredom when long running?

According to Erin C. Westgate, Ph.D., director of the Florida Social Cognition and Emotion Lab at the University of Florida, boredom is an emotion characterized by lack of meaningfulness and engagement.

“So, what you’re doing needs to feel meaningful to you personally, otherwise you’re bored,” Westgate tells Runner’s World. “… [and] you need to be able to pay attention to what you’re doing. That means if you’re doing something that’s too easy or too hard, you’re going to struggle to pay attention.”

Long runs are hard. You run farther than you would any other day of the week, which is mentally and physically taxing. No wonder it leads to boredom.

So, what actually is boredom?

Scientists previously considered boredom a neutral state, Westgate says, so it did not meet the criteria to be considered an emotion. However, recent research suggests that boredom is an emotion—and not a neutral one.

“It’s actually pretty unpleasant and aversive,” Westgate says. “People don’t enjoy experiencing it.”

During a graduate school study, Westgate had subjects sit in an empty room. The first part of her research measured pleasant versus unpleasant experiences. Would a patient pay to come back and look at the same beautiful painting again? Yes, for $5. Would a patient pay to not experience pain from a shock device? Also yes, for $2.

During the final part of the study, she asked participants to sit alone in an empty room and entertain themselves with their thoughts for 10 to 20 minutes. There were only two rules: stay in the chair and don’t fall asleep. Each subject was also told that if they wanted to, they could use the shock device from the earlier part of the study. Sixty-seven percent of the men and 25 percent of the women shocked themselves, preferring pain to the monotony of sitting with their thoughts.

While this paints a poor portrait of boredom, Westgate says the emotion shouldn’t be seen as inherently positive or negative. It’s simply information, which can tell you a lot about how you’re feeling.

Here’s why you might be bored on a run—and what to do about it

Katie Asmuth—who is a professional ultrarunner for Saucony—believes that boredom can teach you something about yourself. Depending on the training cycle, she might run for up to five hours at a times—a distance many folks would find mind-numbingly boring. To her, it's the furthest thing from it.

“To be bored while running doesn’t have to do with the act of running, but with the mindset behind the action,” she says. “If you are bored, you are not engaged with the process.”

The emotion is a symptom of something bigger, whether lack of motivation, mental burnout, or something else entirely. “Boredom is sort of like a dashboard light letting you know something is off,” says Westgate. “It gives you an opportunity to fix that.”

If you’re bored because your long run doesn’t feel challenging enough, you can add in a few pickups to keep it interesting. Or, if you’re bored because your run doesn’t feel meaningful to you in the moment, you can remind yourself that this run is valuable to your long-term goals.

Tuning into why you feel bored teaches you how to motivate yourself in the future. After you complete the big marathon that you trained four months for, it might be difficult to become excited about training again—those 20-minute runs might mentally feel like a long run now, when a month ago a long run flew by like it was only 20 minutes.

Westgate says that’s it’s okay to feel this way. After all, you can’t be die-hard motivated all the time. Using a distraction—such as music or a podcast—to get through mentally challenging runs isn’t a bad thing.

“It’s almost like comfort food,” says Asmuth. “… sometimes you need that initial trigger that excites you to get out the door.” But such as with comfort food, it’s healthiest in moderation.

You don’t have to completely suppress your feelings of boredom. Embrace them instead!

You can easily distract yourself too much. Instead of getting to the root of your boredom, you put on music just to push through it. In the long-term, this can reduce the activity’s meaningfulness.

“Suppression strategies are not a healthy way of dealing with the feelings we have,” says Westgate. “Part of that is because they don’t actually solve the underlying problem.” She likens coping this way to pulling out your phone every time you’re bored at work; by doing so, you’re not dealing with the hard truth that the work makes you feel bored.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that everyone is different, and one person’s suppression could be another person’s positive experience. Asmuth loves to warm up with a good podcast, a “rocking playlist,” or audiobooks—not because she’s trying to distract herself from her run, but because listening to those things adds to her enjoyment. Once she gets far enough along, she’ll usually turn the sounds off.

“I prefer listening to my body, my breath, and my footsteps—letting my mind wander,” Asmuth says. “I disconnect from what I’m doing after the run and reconnect with my present self. I often think about what I’m grateful for and appreciate the silence.”

Studies have found that the silence and disconnect that Asmuth mentions can lead to measurable positives. A study in the journal Academy of Management Discoveries found that some people feel a boost of creativity after performing a boring task. Alicia Walf, Ph.D., a senior lecturer of cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, told Forbes that boredom can also improve social connectivity.

So, don’t be afraid to embrace boredom—just like Asmuth does. After giving birth to her first son, she made sure running stayed a priority; it was important to have alone time to go outside and explore.

“That boredom is a gift. I have the time and space to listen to my body, to scan from head to toe and ask, ‘what do I need?’” Asmuth says. “I take what the trail gives me and need nothing more.”

(12/05/2021) Views: 1,291 ⚡AMP
by Runner’s World

Running News Headlines

Copyright 2024 1,516