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Recently, I pulled myself out of a running rut. At the time, I didn’t realize I was in a rut. I was running an average of five times a week. During the work week, my alarm clock would be set for a morning run or my gym bag packed for a lunch run, but the running oomph was nowhere to be found. Running was part of my routine, but I had lost track of what it takes to achieve personal running goals. I was going through the motions, but not putting the effort and thoughtfulness into running that I once had. My love for running was with me through the rut, but the effort during runs was not. After a couple of races did not go as I had hoped, I realized something needed to change. Below I list some ways to breathe some life into running.
Shake Up Your Training. “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” My approach to training needed to change. I was fortunate to have a great running coach reach out to me to see if I would be interested in working with him. With a full schedule (mom life, work responsibilities, home duties to name a few…), I was hesitant to commit to a rigorous training schedule. I decided I had nothing to lose and if the training schedule proved to be too much for me to handle, I could always stop. It’s now been a few months and I have hope that I can achieve my goals. Some ways to shake up your own training is to take a critical look at how you have been training and see if something needs to change. You can download a training program, hire a coach, research different types of runs and incorporate them into your running week, and add a day of cross training.
Run with Purpose. Run with intention. One of the things that was making running dull is that I was always doing the same type of run: slow and easy. There is nothing wrong with running this way, but it wasn’t helping me reach my goals. Now that I am following a training plan, I know that there will be different types of runs each week and to adjust my effort accordingly. Every week I have a long run, an easy run, strides after an easy run, and speedwork. I wasn’t in the habit of running this way before, but I know each run serves a purpose. There is still a place for my easy runs, but room has also been made for different types of runs.
Be a Goal Getter. Set a goal. We hear the message of why setting goals is important all the time, but it really can be effective. Set a realistic goal and work hard to achieve it. If life happens (for example, you get injured or you are busier with work than expected), adjust your goal, but continue to work towards it. Identify what you want from running, set a goal, and take the necessary action to achieve it.
Make Time for Your Passion. Find a way to do what you love. For me, running is a passion, so the desire to run never goes away. I enjoy long runs, but wasn’t making the time every week to do a long run. If you want to do well in a half-marathon, long runs are important. I also wasn’t making the time for any kind of speedwork at a track because it was more convenient (and took less time) to run from home. There have been times where I felt too busy to run, but I have never regretted squeezing a run in. Sometimes making time for running means waking up early, staying up late, or running on my lunch. Sometimes, it means skipping a social event. Every so often I have some unexpected free time, so I use that time to run. The conditions for running are not always perfect, but they don’t have to be. I can’t be the only person that feels a slight pang of jealousy when you see someone out for a run on a nice day and know that you won’t be running. Instead of feeling envy, make some time to run.
Be Inspired. There’s nothing quite like feeling inspired to breathe life into training. I find inspiration everywhere. Following dedicated runners and athletes on social media is one way I’m inspired everyday. I’m always inspired by seeing my daughter, nieces and nephews trying their best at sports or other activities. I am in awe of talented elite runners and know how hard they work for their dreams. Watching a race and seeing so many runners working hard to get to the finish line is really inspiring. Reading blogs, books, magazines, and inspirational quotes also inspires me.
Take a Break. There is no shame in taking a break. Running should enhance your life, not make it more stressful. Sure, there will be hard days with running, but when it feels like a chore, or if it feels like one more thing on your to-do list, take a break. Whether it’s a day, week, month or year, you’ll return to running when you’re ready.
Running is very simply, putting one foot in front of the other. For something so simple, there are a lot of different ways to do this. If running is starting to feel monotonous, there are a lot of ways to change this. Keeping running goals in sight and running towards them can help to keep you out of a running rut. If you feel like you might be headed towards a running rut, you have the power to change the course you are on. Take control of your running and make it work for you.
Have you ever been in a running rut? How did you climb out of it?