How To Reclaim Your Love of Running
Running can be a wonderful escape, Whether it’s just you, your thoughts and the road, catching up with a friend, or a speed work session to get out some stress, running is a haven for many of us. Until it isn’t. A running rut can come out of the blue and affect your sense of identity as a runner. It can be frustrating to not feel the same excitement as you once did about lacing up and heading out, but there are a few ways to coax is back.
Run for Time
Focusing on miles is typical for runners, and sometimes the simple switch of going for time can change your perspective of a run, as well as the feel. Instead of having a weekly or daily mile goal, make a time goal. Heading out for a 35 minute run means you’ll be back in 35 minutes, which can mentally be easier than heading out for 4 miles since you know that whatever pace you go, you’re getting back in a set amount of time.
Vary Your Runs
Not only do our bodies get used to doing the same workout, our minds get bored with them as well. Doing 5 miles every time you go for a run at the same pace is a sure way to run yourself into a rut, so mix it up! Try intervals of speeding up for 30 seconds to 2-5 minutes followed by a recovery interval of the same to double the time. Try a Fartlek run but increasing your speed to an object – light pole, street crossing, large tree – and changing the interval lengths and intensities as you go. The harder your run, the shorter it should be which will mix up your routes and timing. Enjoy discovering different gears you didn’t know you had!
Have a Goal Outside of Running
Having a race goal or weekly mileage goal may have worked in the past, but if checking off your training plan or tracking your weekly miles feels like a chore, it’s time to change goals.
Strength training is a great way to enhance your running and lessen your risk of injury, making it a great alternative goal. Start tracking your strength training sessions; how many push-ups you do, how much weight you can carry on walking lunges, etc. and use running as a conditioning tool instead of your focus.
Doing a headstand or being able to do a pull-up are other very specific goals that will build overall strength and get your head out of the running scene for a break.
Make it Social
Joining a run group is a great way to continue to run, but move the focus away from running. Meeting others and talking about everything BUT running while running (oh, it will happen!) can make you fall in love with the sport by changing your route, pace and completely getting out of your own head. If you don’t have a convenient run group near you (check any local running store like Fleet Feet or workout apparel store like Lululemon for weekly group runs), grab a friend and head out!
Leave Your Watch at Home
Bring freedom and intuition back to your runs by unplugging and going by feel. Letting your mind wander and not concerning yourself over your pace (how many times do you glance at your watch even when you “don’t care” what your pace is?) can do wonders for a rut. By tuning into how you feel to gauge what pace you want to run and how far you want to go, you’ll feel more at ease by not comparing this run to another run in terms of pace or distance.
Take a Different Route
This can be as easy as reversing your typical route, or as radical as driving to a whole new neighborhood to explore. I am also a huge fan of “runmmuting” where you run to actually get somewhere. I’ve ended runs at the grocery to walk back with a few items, to a friends house to watch a primetime show, and to work when it’s not super hot out!
Allow Yourself Time Off
Take a week, take a month, take whatever time you need completely off from running until you feel a desire to run. It will most likely happen sooner then you think, and you’ll have plenty of open time to fall in love with a new way to move. Running – like any exercise – should make your life better. Resist the pull of thinking if you take a month off from running, you are no longer a runner. Running will always be there for you when you’re ready to come back.
Have you pulled yourself out of a running rut?
What helped you fall back in love with running?