When you first meet, it’s new and exciting. You’re getting to know each other. You’re figuring out what you like and what you tolerate. You consistently try to take it to the next level and find which buttons to push and which not to push. It’s always fun and it’s always exciting.
But then…things start to get “old.” You start to feel somewhat like you’re going through the motions. It’s just not as exciting as it used to be, right? The same day-to-day; the same schedules…
I’m not referring to your marriage – I am referring to your running journey!
Truth be told, those who are dedicated to running do a hell of a lot more than simply “participate.” We form a relationship and a strong bond with our sport, and we love it – albeit unconditionally – very much. Distance runners especially form a deep relationship with running.
But like every other long term relationship, it requires work and effort to keep it exciting. I have had many conversations with runners starting at the beginning of February that are along the lines of the following:
- I’m just not as excited about running like I used to be.
- I feel really bored with my training.
- I can barely bring myself to run, and when I do, I just want it to be over.
Shortly thereafter, panic ensues: Am I falling out of love with running? Is this not my thing anymore? Is what once defined me going down the drain?
The short answer: NO to all of those things.
Just as we work at relationships with our significant others and our children to keep things fresh and exciting, so we must give the same type of attention to our relationship with running. If you’ve been running the same routes three days a week at 9:20 pace for the past 16 months, it’s pretty easy to figure out why you’re feeling a little down and out about running: you’re not doing enough work to keep things exciting!
Luckily, there are many things you can do to rekindle the flame with running, even if you’re limited to your treadmill for most or all of your runs. Check out my tips below to help bring some of that spicy passion back into your relationship with running.
TIP 1: Switch up your routes. If you’re able to, consider running a different route. It gets old to see the neighbor’s packages on the porch every Saturday or catch your breath when someone’s dog comes close to running through the invisible fence every Tuesday. If you can’t switch up your route, consider running it backwards (if it’s a loop, of course) just for a little bit of a change.
TIP 2: Try different types of speed training. Thankfully, there’s not hard-fast rule that Tuesdays have to be for the track. It’s fun to say “Track Tuesday,” but visiting the same damn circle every week gets old, you know? Consider engaging in some fun fartlek drills for speed training. Here are two of my favorites:
- Depending on your distance, kick up the pace during the chorus of your favorite running songs. When the chorus ends, give yourself a break and jog. Example: When Bon Jovi begins to sing “OHHHHH, WE’RE HALFWAY THEERRREEE” during your half marathon training run, kick the speed up to 5k pace until the chorus ends, and then go back to your conversational or jogging pace.
- If you run in a group, get into a single-file line. The person from the back should run ahead of everyone else and jump into the front to be first in line. Repeat!
Remember that fartlek is defined as speed play. It should be fun, innovative, and a nice break from the norm.
TIP 3: If you run with a group, try a solo run. If you run solo, try running with a group. We tend to get set in our ways. A solo run is a great time to clear your head and experience the nature around you alone. It may be a time for you to think about your running and remember why you started in the first place. Alternatively, if you’re used to running alone, running with a group has amazing benefits. You will get to know new runners, talk about your running journey, and find something to do during your run besides thinking about how you wish it was over.
TIP 4: Try new gear. I understand. You’re loyal to Asics and you have been since 1997. Trying some new gear, though, can help put new life into your stride and your run. Whether it’s new clothes, shoes, or compression socks – adding something new to your running gear and attire will surely help spice things up.
TIP 5: Blog! Blogging about your running journey is a fantastic way to get down to why you feel the way that you feel about running. You will discover if you need to push yourself harder, dial down a bit, register for your next race, or try a new distance (26.2, anyone?). If you want to get started blogging in the running community, shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help you get started (sidenote: it’s free).
I wish you the best of luck rekindling your flame with running! I have been through this slump more than once, and the above has always proved helpful for me. Remember – like any relationship, it will take work to keep it going and keep it exciting. Good luck!