Running is by definition a repetitive sport, and to some people “repetitive” can mean “boring.” To prevent your miles from getting mundane, make these five changes to your run training.
Accept the Challenge
Want to inject a sense of urgency into your training runs? Pick a goal race and sign up for it. Having a race on the calendar gives your running a focus and a sense of purpose. You know each step you take brings you closer to earning your finisher’s medal, and—as long as you put in the work leading up to race day—feeling good when you do.
Head for the Hills
There’s nothing wrong with road courses, but trail runs take you to new terrains that challenge your body in a whole different manner. You need to climb, descend and avoid tricky footing around rocks and mud pits. Unpredictable obstacles increase the challenge and require you to be more mentally focused on each step. If you live near hills or a mountain, look for an off-road climb that rewards you with a view at the top.
Ditch the Headphones
It might sound counterintuitive, but running without music can actually be more interesting (and is far more safe) than pumping tunes into your ears. Think about it: The chorus of every song in your playlist consists of the exact same notes every time you hear it. But when you listen to your surroundings, the sounds you hear—like the chirping of birds or the rustling of leaves in the trees—are always different.
You know your favorite running route, the reliable course in your neighborhood that lets you log a few miles without really thinking about it? Run it in reverse for a different perspective and challenge. (Note: We said “reverse,” not “backwards.” Although running backwards conveys lots of benefits, because it challenges your muscles in a different way than traditional running, it’s definitely not advisable on the streets.) Run in reverse, the easy downhills become uphills, and vice versa. You’ll likely spot things you overlooked when you ran the route your regular way.
Be a Pack Dog
Nothing makes the miles pass faster than a good conversation. Running with friends or family members can deepen your bonds and open you up to conversations you might not otherwise be able to have. If the ones you’re close with aren’t the running type, try a local training group. Most specialty running stores organize group runs or have a running group associated with them. At the least, they should have listings from a nearby charity running group like Team in Training.