5 Easy Ways to Spice up Your Running Routine
Has your relationship with running gone a bit stale? Do you find yourself repeating the same old training runs at the same pace week in and week out? And what about your running routes? Have they all become mind-numbingly familiar? And is all of this humdrum, combined with a frustrating training plateau, sucking the joy right out of your running? Then it’s time for a change. It’s time to shake things up and inject a little oomph back into your discouraged bones. Here are five easy ways to do just that. It’ll spice up your running routine and put the pep back in your step in no time!
Have fun with fartleks
One of the easiest ways in which to liven up a ho-hum running routine, is to incorporate fartlek sessions into one or two of your weekly runs. But what exactly are fartleks, you ask? Well, the Swedish term “fartlek” means speed play. It can be loosely defined as “periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slow running”. And, in contrast to more formally structured interval training sessions, fartleks are unstructured. Which means that you are in charge of the fun factor!
A fan of running with music? Then why not run at your normal training pace during the verse portions of each song on your playlist, and pick up the pace during the choruses? Or how about doing a 100 m sprint every time you hear a certain word or phrase?
And then there’s also of course the well-known lamppost fartlek session. Why not jog slowly from one lamppost to the next, run at your 10K pace until you reach the next one, and then sprint to the third, repeating until you’re done? Not only will counting the lampposts take your mind off your tired legs, but the slower recovery jogs will also enable you to cover a longer distance than expected. Try it!
Or, if you’re a mom running with a toddler in a jogging stroller, why not let your little running buddy call the shots? Let him/her help you pick a visual cue before your run, like a certain vehicle or a specific colored car. And then they can remind you to pick up the pace for 200 m each time you see said green car/big truck/motorcycle. Little ones love being a part of the action, and keeping them occupied will make the workout fly by in no time.
The options for fartlek training sessions are endless, really. So be creative and have fun with it!
Join a running club
Another easy way to help get you out of a running rut, is to join a local running club. Not only will this put you in contact with a group of like-minded people, but it will also give you the opportunity to join in their weekly time trials. Which, in turn, will introduce you to a new running route and give you the opportunity to chase down some fast times and even faster club mates. And who knows, all of this tempo training might even set you up for a new PB!
Give HIIT a go
High-intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is all the buzz right now, and with good reason. It basically boils down to an interval training strategy that alternates short bursts of anaerobic (or maximum intensity) activity with less intensive recovery periods. This is then repeated a set number of times, or until the athlete is too tired to continue. A complete workout usually lasts less than 30 minutes.
Extremely time efficient, HIIT is the perfect way in which to combine running with various body weight exercises for a full-body workout. So why not intersperse a few sets of burpees, jumping lunges and/or mountain climbers with short recovery jogs? This is guaranteed to shake up a dreary running routine, and will also contribute to a stronger, leaner body.
Be warned, though, that keeping up a HIIT regime requires high levels of enthusiasm and motivation. You might want to enlist the help of a running buddy for this one!
Discover some new routes
A favorite running route is a wonderful thing to have. But limiting all of your runs to a single route can be unsafe due to the predictability factor, and it can also become very monotonous very quickly. So, if you’re a road runner, why not try switching one of your weekly runs for a trail run in a nearby park or reserve? Or why not drive to the beach for a weekly beach run if you live near the coast? And if you really don’t have any other options, why not simply map out different ways in which to discover your own neighborhood on foot? A simple change in scenery can work wonders to liven up a bland running routine.
Tackle some stairs
And finally, there is stair running. Looking for a fresh new way to effectively challenge those legs? The answer may be right under your nose. Search for the longest flight of stairs you can find, and incorporate it (or a few reps of it) into one of your weekly runs. Not only does stair running build strength and power, but it also forces you to use your muscle stabilizers, such as the gluteus medius. These stabilizers are usually neglected through the normal action of running, which could lead to injury. So although you’ll definitely feel this one the next day, keeping it up will pay off in the long run.
So before you decide to hang up your running shoes altogether, give these five recommendations a go. They might be just what the doctor ordered to breathe some new life into that musty old running regime. And, who knows – they might even take your running performance to a whole new level!