Whether your schedule’s busier than ever or you’ve opted for a few more Netflix and chill nights than usual, finding yourself in a running rut is half the battle. Once you recognize that you’ve fallen off track, you can start to pick yourself back up. Maybe what you really need is to switch up your routine. Start running differently, in a different location or at a different pace. “If you don’t mix up your training, you won’t tax your system enough to improve. The result is often feeling bored and stale,” says Mindy Solkin, founder of The Running Center. The good news is that you can and will get out of your running rut. It just takes some minor changes, like these ones, shared by top running coaches.
Switch up your scenery.
Running the same route every day might be relaxing since you don’t have to think about where you’re going. But it’s also probably becoming increasingly boring. That’s why Samantha Clayton, a physical trainer and senior director of Worldwide Fitness Education for Herbalife Nutrition, recommends trying a new location or route. “Your new surroundings stimulate your mind and require you to pay more attention to where you’re going,” she says. “The sights, sounds, and varied terrain of a new location can boost the way you feel about your run. Plus, running on a new surface, be it sand, grass, the track or dirt, adds a new sensory experience.”
Vary your intensity level.
Interval-style training, which involves switching off between running at a lower speed and running at a higher speed, can help get you out of your running rut. “This new focus on the clock, the changing of speeds, and pushing yourself to work a little harder will not only boost your training session engagement but will also improve your fitness results,” says Clayton. “It’s easy to fall into the comfort zone. But if you add in a new time element, it will help keep you focused and pushing.”
Set a new goal.
When you’re simply running the same-old routine for calorie-burning sake, both your mind and your body begin to plateau, explains Clayton. A new goal can refocus you and make you fall back in love with running. “Training with a defined purpose, especially a competitive one, can break even the worst of ruts,” she says. “A specific planned training schedule will help you get out of the comfort zone. And the excitement of a race or competition may reignite the running flame.”
Log all of your success.
Solkin recommends keeping a logbook or Racer’s Record Book so that you can look back at all the training and racing you’ve accomplished. “If you’ve done it before, you can do it again,” she says. “I’ve been keeping a logbook and Racer’s Record since 1990—I buy a new logbook every calendar year so [that] I can keep track of my progress!”
Enlist the help of a running buddy.
Running alone can get boring and lonely after a while. It’s also harder to stay committed to your regimen when you’re only relying on yourself. Having a running buddy can not only enhance the fun of the activity itself, but can also make you more accountable. “When you add in a partner or join a group of runners, you are challenged to focus on pushing yourself. Or perhaps simply enjoy the friendly conversation and soak in the joy, ease, and simplicity that running can add into your life,” says Clayton. “A supportive group environment is also proven to help combat stress.”
Buy yourself new running gear.
Think about how much more confident you feel when you wear a new outfit you love. The same is true of running gear. “It’s amazing how much some new running attire or good-fitting running shoes can boost your mood, enhance your feeling of self-confidence, and improve your running performance,” says Clayton. Consider buying yourself a new pair of shoes and at least one new outfit every three to four months.
Add a new playlist.
Most runners rely on music to motivate them on runs both long and short. Not only is music fun to listen to, but research shows that it can make you run faster, elevate your mood, help you maintain your pace, allow for a faster recovery, and more. “Switching up your playlist is fantastic for getting you into a happy running mindset,” adds Clayton.
With Aaptiv, you can not only change up your music genre, but you have a database of over 2500 audio fitness classes that provide the variety necessary to keep you motivated. If country music is your regular jam, simply use the app’s filters to find workouts with playlists in almost every major music genre.
Add a warm up and cool down.
Taking the time to warm up and cool down can play a huge role in helping you break out of a running rut. “During your warm up, you can set an intention and mentally prepare yourself for the run ahead, connecting emotionally prior to starting your run and set your intention and desired outcome goals,” says Clayton. “The cool down is equally important, as it’s a great time for reflection [at] a time where you can be honest about what you got out of your session.”