A recent conversation with a colleague of mine, spurred this post. Often runners fall victim of ruts, stale runs, dead legs, and overall exhaustion. Whether you are training for a specific race or just maintaining your mileage, you can exhibit these characteristics more than you would like. So, here are four quick tips on how you can either 1) overcome these barriers, or 2) attempt to prevent them from seeping into your running routine.
- Vary your routes. Running the same route day in and day out can be problematic. First, you anticipate every corner, tree, and landmark, which can be uneventful. Secondly, you may start to “race” each run and assure that you are “at that specific point” by a particular time. Lastly, running the same route will not enable you to encounter various terrains, which your body needs to excel and build strength and stamina.
- Vary your distance. Many recreational runners not only tend to stick to a familiar route, but a similar distance as well. Often runners will try to get in the same 3-4 mile route, 3-4 times a week. It is important to vary your distance to push your body to the next level. Without this change, you will often feel like your daily run, although the same distance, is still difficult at times. So, pick one day each week to increase your distance. To facilitate the transition, allow yourself to run a minute slower per mile on these runs. Conversely, pick a shorter run one day each week and focus on running the second half of the route 30 seconds faster than normal. These fluctuations in your training will pay great divides over the course of a couple months.
- Try music. Many individuals in the running community frown upon headphones due to safety factors or being unaware of your surroundings. However, when used wisely they can serve as a great motivator. You can easily get wrapped up in the music and forget about each breathe you are taking or that hill you are about to climb. With that said, keep the volume low and be aware of those around you.
- Find a friend. Running with others forces you to engage in conversation, run different routes, and experience different paces. All of these things can help you from slipping into a rut. Running with others does require logistics and often is not as convenient as walking out of your front door. Therefore, incorporate others into your runs only once or twice per week. This will give your something to look forward to and force you to focus on your solo runs, to maintain your fitness so you can compete with the group.