Colin and Anne give you some top tips to help you stay motivated as a runner by adding some variety into your week.
Are you someone who goes out and runs the same couple of routes all the time?
Do you concentrate on covering a set distance each time you run?
Are all your runs done at the same pace?
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with this approach to running, especially if you run a little too fast all the time. That’s when you can be in danger of losing your running mojo.
Your body responds so much better if you vary what you do. Follow our tips for adding some variation into your running week to keep your motivation high. Always remember that whatever run you do; you need to finish feeling like you could have gone further and faster.
Run for time not distance
It’s better to run for time rather than to cover set distances. It’s not how far you go that is important. How long you are out for is the important measure that your body responds to. If you run for time you are more likely to be able to stay chatty. It’s too easy to push yourself if you are running 5k every time you go out. You watch the minutes per mile and get downhearted when you find that your time for the distance was slower than the last run. Run for time instead and don’t worry about comparing your runs. This is the best way not to force improvement.
Vary the times that you run for in the week
Your body will adapt to make you a better runner if you give it different stimulus during the week. A long run of an hour or more, together with shorter runs of varying times is ideal. Plan a long, a medium and some shorter runs to mix it all up. You may think it’s not worth stepping out of the door for short runs but look at it a different way. If you are used to do doing three forty five minute runs that’s a total of 135 minutes in the week. Break this up into one 60 minute run, one 40 minute run and a 35 minute run. You will have been out running for the same time but given your body a different stimulus.
Vary the routes that you take
If you follow the same route on your runs it is tempting to want to beat your personal best each time you go out. This inevitably leads to you running quicker each time you go out and running a bit too fast all the time won’t make you fitter. It’s the volume of easy running you do that will make you fitter and faster, not the speed you go at.
Once you begin to vary the time you are out running for, then it’s easier to try out different routes and not get caught up in a competition with yourself on each run. Be inventive. Run an out and back in one direction. Then choose a different direction next time. Run up every cul de sac and back down again. Plan a route that makes an interesting shape on Strava!
Try some off road running
Spring is nearly here, and with it hopefully the end of our current restrictions, so head off to a nearby wood or forest and try some off road running. If you change surfaces the pace will be slower but you will still be running for the same time. It’s the time you are out for that is important not the pace you run at. You could also head for some hills remembering to stay Chatty as you climb. If this means walking that is fine. The training effect will be the same and you will be strengthening your legs up as well.
Vary the pace of your runs
Add some Sparkles into one of your shorter runs. Do a Sparkly fartlek where you run faster for ten seconds wherever you feel like it. Don’t be afraid to walk a bit after each Sparkle. Then set off at Superchatty pace before you move up to your normal Chatty pace again. Find out how to Sparkle here.
Do a Chatty out and back. Warm up on the way out with some walking and some Superchatty running. Once you turn around at the halfway point come back at Chatty pace. Your return journey should be a few seconds quicker but it’s important not to race it!
Enjoy your running
Enjoying your running is the key to maintaining motivation and varying what you do will help with this. Never get stuck in a rut again. In fact, you may enjoy your running so much that you want to do more and more. Be careful not to overdo it and you won’t go wrong. Just remember to finish every run feeling like you could do it all over again!
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