If Your Runs are Boring, Change Your Routine
"I canít breathe. My lungs are about to explode!" As a seasoned runner, you may not have felt that kind of exertion in a while.
When you first started running, pain and difficulty breathing prevented boredom, and it probably seemed like a major accomplishment to complete a one-mile run without stopping. As a novice runner, you most likely had on cotton shorts and shirt with inexpensive sneakers, and the newness of every run was exciting.
Now, as a running veteran, dressed in CoolMax from head to toe with a heart-rate monitor and running shoes that cost close to the triple-digit mark, sometimes you simply get bored. You just canít bear to run the same loop again because nothing ever changes.
How can you deal with boredom? A few simple tricks can make your run seem new again.
Mind over matter
- Look around. Observe different colors when you run. Look for red one day, yellow the next. Look at the flowers or new green leaves in the spring. Notice animal tracks in the snow during winter. See how nature changes from day to day and season to season, and make it a point to notice one new thing every day.
- Listen. If you run near the ocean, listen to the roar of the waves. If you run by a playground, listen to sounds of children shouting and laughing. Concentrate on hearing the different sounds around you.
- Appreciate your run. Enjoy being outside. Many people are sitting inside watching sitcom repeats as you experience the beauty of a good run.
- Count. How many houses do you run by on your regular loop or how many other runners do you see? Count your steps. See how many it takes to get you up that killer hill.
- Feel. Your body is an amazing machine. Feel your leg muscles propel your body forward.
- Visualize. Picture yourself running a marathon and crossing the finish line, or see yourself as a stronger runner after sticking to a certain schedule for two months. If you are trying to lose weight, visualize fitting into that outfit thatís just a little too tight now.
Try something new
- When you look good, you feel good. Buy a new outfit or some new running shoes.
- Get out of town. Get in your car and drive until you find some place that looks appealing. Park your car and run. (If you are directionally challenged or not familiar with the neighborhood, be sure you know the name of the street where your car is parked, and be aware of your surroundings.)
- Go to a race, but donít run. Just watch. Learn the true meaning of motivationólike seeing a 75-year-old granny crossing the 10K finish line in a time thatís 10 minutes faster than your PR.
- Run with somebody. Join a group and run with them. Youíll find new routes to run on and new people to run with.
- Or, if you usually run with somebody, run alone. Appreciate the solitude. Use this time to meditate and reflect on your life, job, relationships and well-being.
- Stop running. Every 10 minutes or half-hour or whenever you feel like it, walk briskly. Or, for a challenge, try sprinting at 15-minute intervals.
- Reverse your loop.
- Play silly games like you did in the car as a kid. Try to spot out-of-state license plates or run by streets that start with each letter of the alphabet.
- Take someone running with you who has never run before. Inspire them by reminding them that you were once in their (running) shoes. This will help you to realize how far you have come since your first miles.
- Run somewhere that entertains you. Cities and parks often provide entertainment, or try running laps around a little league game and keep track of the score.
- Write down your distance, time and location in a journal.
- Browse through training books and running magazines for tips on improving performance.
- Practice fartleks or speedplay. Sprint to a predetermined landmark, recover by running slowly, then do it all over again.
- Join track workouts. Theyíre a great way to improve your running time while getting tips from a coach.
- Set goals and stick to them.
- Train for a race distance thatís new to you. If 10Ks bore you, try a shorter 5K or start training for longer distances, such as a half- or a full marathon.
- Just stop. Give yourself a break and try cycling, kickboxing, yoga or basketball for a while. Nothing is wrong with not running for a few days or a week or two. Once you take a little break, you will realize that you really miss running and will soon be back into the groove.
Anne Powers is a freelance writer specializing in outdoor recreation. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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