Bounce Out of Running Ruts
Running with Clint Cherepa
10 Tips to Break the Monotony
Running thousands of steps on the same roads day after day can be a bore. Seasoned and successful runners keep their training fresh and avoid running ruts.
Read on to see how you can bounce out of common running ruts.
A New Scene
Running on the same trails or roads, day after day, gets old quick. Exploring new trails or routes will mentally stimulate you.
Michael Wardian has represented the USA at the 50K and 100K World Championships and has a 2:17:49 marathon personal record. Wardian regularly takes first place in all race distances. He races a lot – 47 times in 2016 – while managing to keep from getting in a running rut.
Kent Keeler actively works to avoid running ruts, saying, “finding new trails, or even old ones I haven’t been on in a while, can be a big boost.” Kent Keeler/phoKe images
Wardian suggests, “I love running in new areas and try to ’get lost’ at least a few times a month. I just go out the door with no set schedule, plan or route and just pick an amount of time and run. This strategy has allowed me to discover cool paths, parks, neighborhoods, restaurants, short cuts and routes that I would never have noticed.”
Kent Keeler, an accomplished runner from Niagara Falls, Ontario, has been able to bounce out of running ruts. He shares how “finding new trails, or even old ones I haven’t been on in a while can be a big boost. And trails in general can get me out of a rut much quicker than the road.”
Quick Fix: For one month, run a new route at least once a week. Stop by your local running store and ask about their favorite routes or maps to trail systems you have not visited.
Go with New Goals
Running goals should be a part of every runner’s training. They provide motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But, running goals can get stale, if you let them. Have you had the same running goals for the last five years?
Take the time to sit down and write out weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Go with goals that will challenge you, yet are reachable.
Heading to the great outdoors helps ward off workout boredom. Kent Keeler/phoKe images
Note Wardian’s advice, “I think choosing goals is one of the most important things we can do with our running and the goals should be challenging.”
Goals – small or big – provide motivation and get you out the door. Chasing unreachable goals is a running downer. Take the time to choose some motivating goals that you can attain.
Quick Fix: Choose a goal you can reasonably reach in a month. For example, run more miles or days this month than last. Scrap your running goals and start fresh. Choose three of the tips from this article and try to put them in practice in the next month.
Pick a Partner
Run with a friend and it will seem like you ran for half the time. Having a running partner can really renew your zeal to run. It gives you someone to talk shop with, and it helps with accountability when you’re contemplating skipping a run.
Wardian admits, “Having a training partner is one of the greatest benefits of being a runner and something I relish.”
Running motivation often breeds while two runners talk shop on a run. While running with a friend, the miles fly by.
Quick Fix: Get a friend to join you for a weekly run or look for a local running club to join.
Choose an A-Race
Runners often spread themselves too thin as they try to focus on too many different races and race distances. Focusing on one big race or A-race will motivate you to perform. It’s easy to get caught up trying to run all kinds of races or none at all. Successful racers have found they need to choose an A-Race, your most important race and run of the year.
Wardian likes to choose something outside of his comfort zone and challenge himself to see if it is possible.
Keeler also finds racing to be indispensable.
He says, “I definitely need to have a race to focus on. I haven’t so far this year, and am noticing a big motivation difference. Suddenly, running slides down the priority list.”
Quick Fix: Choose a race distance you have never focused on, and dedicate and train specifically for this race.
Technology is helping runners to run stronger, longer and smarter. Many runners keep themselves entertained by listening to an audiobook, podcast or some music. This especially helps during super-long training runs. Give your training a new twist by using a heart rate monitor or GPS.
GPS devices, such as Garmin, are fun and provide great insight into your training. Also, heart-rate monitors can add a whole new aspect to your training.
“I like using my Mio heart rate monitor to gauge my fitness,” Wardian said. “The Mio doesn’t have a strap, so it doesn’t bother me like models with a chest strap.”
A few great running podcasts to get started with: trailrunnernation.com, ultrarunnerpodcast.com, www.marathontalk.com.
Quick Fix: Get yourself a Smartwatch that works with Strava.com, and become immersed in how it changes your running.
Running technology junkies can find themselves bogged down and worn out with information overload. Too much technology can be a bad thing. Get too fixated on it and you will forget why you run. Return to your running roots and try running tech-free.
Wardian says about running gadget-less, “It is really refreshing. Everything will be there when you get back.”
Quick Fix: Leave all the technology at home a couple times a week.
Running a slow slog down the roads or trails, day after day, is a bore. Running fast is fun. Singletrack and downhill running are made for going fast.
Have you tried a victim run? An invention of Wardian, these are runs where you pick someone on the trail or road and race them.
“They don’t even know it is a race, but it is (for me) and gets me fired up. You can also just pick objects or cars or bikes, and it feels great to pass a biker on a hill,” shares Wardian.
Quick Fix: Try running faster. Investigate a speedwork training plan that will challenge you. Check out speedwork plans in Jack Daniels’ Running Formula, FIRST’s Run Less, Run Faster and Hal Higdon’s Ultimate Training Guide.
Take a Running Vacation
It always feels good to get out of town. Why not take a run-cation? It is a sure way to change your running scenery and stimuli. A run-cation is a great way to freshen up your running. Find a destination race or a running mecca and start packing. Get a group of running friends or family involved and go explore somewhere you have never been or run before.
Visiting exotic places can bring a breath of fresh air to your running fix, according to Michael Wardian, as he did here in the World Marathon Challenge in Marrakesh, Morocco. Matt Trappe photo
Wardian’s running has brought him and his family all over the world. He says, “I think this might be one of my favorite things in life. We as a family are exploring the world through running.”
Quick Fix: Find a race that is in a place you have always wanted to visit and spend a long weekend there.
Run Like a Kid
Kids run because it is fun. They don’t track miles, pace or track heartrate. They run fast, they run slow and everything in between. Go to any schoolyard during recess and you will see kids doing what comes natural to them, running. And, they are doing it because it is fun.
“When trail running becomes all about ‘work’ in the form of training, it loses some of the appeal it first had in my life. I am conscious of this and let myself have fun runs where I don’t mind stopping to take photos, or slow down to enjoy being in the beautiful outdoors,” notes Keeler.
Quick Fix: Do fartlek runs. Run really fast, take a break, run some more, race up hills. There is only one rule: have fun.
Run For a Cause
Did you know that someone else can be paid for you to run? Give a purpose to your next run and raise money for someone who needs it. Races are always searching for volunteers. Running can become a selfish activity if we let it be. Instead, why not try giving back to your community? You can do this by volunteering at a race, running for a charity or even donating your old shoes to www.oneworldrunning.com.
Quick Fix: There are all kinds of charities to run for. Get involved with local running events.
Kent Keeler– firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Wardian– email@example.com