It happens to all of us sooner or later. Especially newbies. The excitement of starting a running program has begun to wear off and all of a sudden, you feel tired and bored with running. Every time you even think about going for a run, you come up with plenty of reasons not to go.
The alarm goes off and instead of hopping out of bed, you roll over. Or you come home from a long day at work and instead of a rejuvenating run, you grab a beer and head for the TV for Seinfeld reruns.
Sound familiar? It should. The motivation to run is something that comes…and goes. It could be seasonal (it’s especially tough in the summer) or you’re just plain tuckered out. Or, you feel stressed by the job or the screaming kids at home. It’s hot and humid and some days even a short run feels unbearable some days. Or maybe you’re just bored silly staring straight ahead day after day on the treadmill.
Whatever it is (or isn’t) staying motivated to run 12 months a year is tough. Maybe even impossible. Beginners and experienced runners all lose their mojo at some point.
The key is recapturing it so you can keep going and improve. And the key to recapturing that motivation, is to make changes in your running. It doesn’t matter what you change as much as simply making a change.
Switch your goals, plan for new ones. Instead of training for a marathon, set your sights on getting faster in a 5-K. Add more speed days. Reduce the length of your long runs or go much longer. Or substitute a strength training workout in the gym for a hill day.
Maybe you need to add an extra rest day to your schedule. Start taking a yoga or Pilates class. Maybe add a spinning class or try pool running. Or find new running routes around town. Possibly, you need to hook up with a different training group and meet new training partners. Run at a different time of day. Make plans to go to a new race in a city you’ve always wanted to visit.
There’s all sorts of solutions to break the ho-hum routine of running. You may not need to make major changes, but some change is good to shake up the routine.
Here are some tips that will help you stir the mix and get you fired up again about running this summer:
O Develop new training routes. Too many of us stick with the same roads. Even the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, the Scenic loop or Speedway gets old after awhile. Seek out a new course in a different part of town—even if it means driving. A change of scenery can make all the difference.
O Make new running friends. Join a different training group to do long runs or speed work. Or do different workouts with your regular training partners. If you only do long runs together, try just doing shorter, easier runs with your group. Or meet at the track once a week.
O Run earlier or later. If you’re a morning runner, switch to the evening. Or vice versa. If you can’t make such a radical switch, run a half hour earlier or later. Or go for a noon run, rather than eating lunch.
O Replay great movies in your head. What’s your favorite? Spinal Tap or To Kill A Mockingbird? It doesn’t matter. While running, entertain yourself by replaying the classic scenes in your head. Or replay your life. Pick a year and rehash everything (no matter how minor) that went on, but stick with that year.
O Buy new shoes or a new running outfit. A simple investment in new running gear might be just what you need to get excited about running again.
O Sign up for a new class. Learn how yoga, Pilates or kick boxing. If Tai Chi looks interesting, give a try. Ever tried deep-water running? Go for it. Can’t swim? It’s about time you learned.
O Leave your watch or GPS at home. Don’t time your run. Just run in any direction your feet take you and for any length of time which feels reasonable. Be spontaneous.
O Take five. If you’re still having a difficult time finding the motivation to get out the door, tell yourself you’ll only run for 10 minutes. Usually after just a few minutes of running, you’ll forget all about it and keep going.
Sometimes that’s all it takes to get a new ‘tude about running. Change your routine, make new goals, take a class and you’ll be back to your old self in no time.
If not, it might be time to take a break from running. That’s fine to take a week or two off. That’s usually all it takes to find your inner mojo again.