There are people who genuinely love to run, all the time. There are others who would only run if someone was chasing them. And then there are those whose running relationship is more complicated — going through ups and downs, often stuck in the latter when the running routine becomes, well, too routine.
Regardless of which group you’re in at the moment, we all have to admit that it can be boring. Even though running is one of the best ways to get and stay fit and healthy, putting one foot in front of the other over and over for miles and miles can be monotonously mind-numbing.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way! You just need to give your body and brain a refresh. Try one or more of these tips that are sure to put the pep back in your step!
1. Switch your surroundings
Running the same path every day is bound to get boring. A simple change of scenery could be the kick start you need. Go a different direction than your usual route, drive to a scenic location like a park or beach, try out some trails or tackle a track workout. Can’t go somewhere new? Try changing the time of day you run. Going out during a beautiful sunrise or sunset can be a magical experience!
2. Speed up
Interval training is a great way to shake things up while you fast-track your fitness. After a steady warmup, try increasing your pace for 20-30 seconds, followed by a slow recovery jog for a couple minutes. Repeat five times (or as much as you want) during a run. You can time it or simply pick target objects in the distance. (Power poles are usually perfectly placed. Sprint to one ahead and recover for the next two or three.)
3. Slow down
Intervals don’t always have to be of the speedy variety. Walk breaks give physical and mental relief from the pressure of maintaining a fast pace and are a proven way to go the distance and even improve race times. Slow down, catch your breath and take a moment to enjoy the beauty around you while taking advantage of the positive endorphin rush within you.
4. Let your inner kid out
Sprinkle in some silliness with a different kind of interval training by adding some of these exercises to your run:
- Running with high knees
- Running sideways
- Squatting and jumping forward
- Bounding (exaggerate the running stride, launching off your back foot and catching some “hang time” before landing on the front foot)
In addition to lightening the mood, these moves will increase your fitness level as they are all effective plyometric exercises.
5. Pump up the jam
It’s no secret: Music is motivating. The right pump-up playlist may be all you need to power your workout, whether it’s a long, slow jog or an intense speed session. Put together your favorite tunes for the perfect pick-me-up to get you “in the zone.”
Don’t know where to start? Check out apps like Amazon Music or Spotify for plenty of pre-made playlists to choose from, including workout and high-energy mood mixes. Take it to the next level with the RockMyRun app, which not only gives you great songs but allows you to adjust the tempo at any time to match your desired pace.
Safety Note: Always pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t blast your music too loud, and leave one earbud out so you can hear around you.
6. Buddy up
Studies show that people who partner up have higher motivation and are more likely to stick to their plans. Bonus: You get quality social time, and it’s safer than running alone. If you don’t have a fitness-focused friend in particular, there’s probably a local running group near you to join. Or, partner with your pooch and take your best furry friend out for a run. Borrow a friend’s dog if you don’t have one!
For another option, try running with virtual friends. Invite friends to connect on your fitness tracker app and participate in challenges. Check out the StepBet app, where you can join others in a step game, achieve your daily step goal and even earn money for your miles!
7. Sign up for something different
If you’ve been-there-done-that with road races and had your fill of 5K fun runs, consider something new with a more exciting theme. You can have a blast slugging through mud, conquering obstacles, running from zombies or enjoying some wine along the way. Look up races in your area at runningintheusa.com or raceentry.com. Some runs to look for: Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Rugged Maniac, Glow Runs, Color Runs.
8. Stop trying to lose weight
If slimming down is the only reason you run, you’re probably not going to stick with it. Although losing those pesky pounds is all good (and running certainly helps with that), it shouldn’t be your only goal. Fortunately, there are many other (and better) reasons to exercise, like how it makes you feel and the positive impact it has on your overall health and life. Focus on those instead of the scale and you’ll enjoy your running time a lot more. Fat loss is just a bonus!
9. Do something else entirely
Maybe the weather sucks and going out in the elements is just not happening, or your knees need a break from pounding the pavement, or you’re just mentally burned out. It’s okay! We all hit that point when we need a break. So take one already! No one said you have to be only a runner. Try replacing some (or temporarily all) of your mileage with other active options to keep things fresh. Check out classes at the gym, work on strength training, try dance fitness, get into yoga, add in some biking or swimming or even try out a local team sport. Mix it up however you like!
Maybe you should forget most of what you just read. Maybe the problem is you’re overcomplicating things. Maybe you need to stop forcing the fun. Maybe you need to leave all the fancy races, challenges, goals and gadgets behind and just be the real you in raw nature. Did you used to love running? Get back to why you fell in love with it in the first place. Just get out and go, with zero expectations chasing you.