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Firstly, disclaimer; I’m not against running! I’d be a sadist if I were, given that I’m up to 7 hours a week at the moment. However, it can take a toll. Whether you’ve been restricted to fewer routes with nights drawn in, you’re getting LOTS of miles in for marathon training OR you just have a short attention span, here are some ways to break through monotony.
If you don’t already own a smartphone, ipod or mp3, you’re missing out. As well as music, there are podcasts and radio shows available for free download playable offline on your run or commute. A popular choice is Marathon Talk, but why not spice it up?
Keen runners are familiar with the term running economy and the associated pointers to improve form and thus, performance. The great thing is, these work! Simplest changes are often the best. Remember to stand up straight, pin shoulders back, keep chest & hips forward and think about your cadence and footfall. The smoother running feels, the less likely you are to become injured and the greater chance you’ll have to go both faster and longer.
Running is often a solitary activity away from distractions. Combine this with stimulated brain activity resulting from physical exercise, and you’ve got a great opportunity for creativity and new ideas. The clarity running provides may just help you uncover that million dollar idea you’ve been seeking or an epiphany to resolve your woes.
On the contrary, running can help you with the generally lesser understood mindlessness. The busy little stress causing voices in our heads all too frequently impact our ability to enjoy the moment. Running, particularly long distances, helps bring you into the moment and relieve stress. The Monks of Mount Hiei are a famously extreme example, attempting to run 1000 marathons in 1000 days in a quest for spiritual enlightenment.
Running really is one of the best ways to discover new places. It grant’s more freedom than a bike or car with the speed you won’t get walking. In your next easy run, why not try a few turnings you wouldn’t usually take? There are stunning views, quirky places and useful shortcuts to be won. Equally, you’ll hit a few dead ends, but that never stopped Indiana Jones…
Want to really get to know your regular routes? I guarantee that there’s always something new to see, even on the beaten track of a loop you’ve run 100 times before. Keep your eyes peeled, look closely and you’ll start to notice things that would usually escape you. The devil is in the detail!
Cheeky one coming up here, but who doesn’t love it? Why not explore the segments in your local area on Strava and devise a little fartlek or intervals session based around them. Knowing your efforts will be added to a leaderboard may help keep you going when you’re knackered and with your times recorded, you’ll have the bonus of a clear target to beat next time.
Why not take things to the next level and get creative? I’ve not tried this one yet, but I plan to. It’s simple – whilst you’re running, you try to create an image or word with your GPS tracker and then view your creation online. Warning! I’ve heard this is tougher than it sounds…
Having a variation of sessions in your programme not only helps keep interest, it also reduces the chances of hitting plateau and diminishing returns. Vary your speed sessions and the pace, distance and terrain of your long runs for double benefit.
Training with a friend has many advantages. Firstly, organising a set time and place to meet someone makes you less likely to miss the session. Secondly, the conversation on easier runs and the motivational (competitive!) element on the tougher sessions should help keep you going. Joining a club is a great option too.
So there you have it, there’s really plenty to do. Let us know if you have any more tips.