We all have time where the last thing we want to do is run or work out. These “slumps” are normal, and either come about due to boredom or fatigue. The repetition of tempos, long runs, and hill repeats can be enough to make you dread having to do another workout. If you’re stuck in a training rut, it might be time to try something new to reignite the fire. Switching up workout types, or who you’re running with, can be enough to motivate you again. Here are some ways to mix up the monotony of running:
Find a group
If you’re used to doing every workout or easy run on your own, it might be time to hop into a group environment. Casual chatter and comraderie can help ease the pain of a workout, or at least create enough distraction that the miles fly by. Most cities have a running group of some kind whether it’s a local running crew or a group out of a running store. Do a little bit of research and find one that’s convenient and works with your schedule.
We’ve all heard of the fartlek workout, which is essentially just speed play. Paces and interval duration are varied to keep the workout fun. Another way of doing this workout is with a group of at least 5 people. In a single file line, the runner at the front sets the pace. Then, the runner at the end of the line must surge to the front of the pack to settle in as the new leader at their desired pace. The person at the rear can choose to surge whenever they choose which keeps the rest of the group on their toes. It’s a great way to challenge each other and do a speedy workout without too much thought.
Be a broken record
Repeats are a simple yet effective workout for any distance. The intensity and distance of the interval will determine the recovery. Long intervals or short intense bursts will require longer rest periods than moderate intensity repeats. The rest period should be longer enough that your heart rate settles and you’re able to talk. Aim to keep the intervals consistent; blowing it out of the water on the first rep will leave you gassed for the rest of the workout and won’t provide the most beneficial training effects.
Go up and down a ladder
Pyramid or ladder workouts are a fun mix up to interval training. Choose to do the intervals by distance or by duration. For example, a ladder workout on the track could look something like: 200m-400m-600m-800m-1000m-1000m-800m-600m-400m-200m. For recovery, match the hard interval distance and try to keep the paces consistent. Much like coming down a hill, climbing down the ladder will feel easier with decreasing interval distances! These workouts can be as long or as short as you wish, and can be done based on time so you don’t have to find a track.
A great way to get back into shape, or fuel the fire is to actually step onto the starting line again. Use the pre-race nerves and adrenaline to pump you up to run. The crowds of people will be great to push you, plus having a closed course with no traffic is ideal! Check out your local running scene for upcoming races and sign up. It could be enough to get booted out of a training rut.
If nothing seems to be working, it might be that you just need a couple days off of running. Many people forget the importance of rest and recovery. It’s just as important as running workouts! Take a few days to sleep in, try a new activity, catch up on some reading, or try a new recipe. Stepping away from a regimented training schedule for a short time won’t decrease your overall fitness. It could be actually be exactly what you need to get to the next level of fitness and boost your training.