Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making Training Fun

 A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.

 Are you stuck in a training rut and getting bored? Are you getting sick of running? Do you dread going on runs but somehow force yourself to do it because you know its supposedly good for you? It doesn't have to be that way! I promise running can be a blast. How? Here's a few ideas:

Don't do the same run every day! I know a lot of people that get in this habit. It makes running sooooo boring. You gotta find different routes to do. Starting from your house every run gets monotonous. You don't have to drive far, heck drive two blocks and start there. At least its different.

If you live in a place with hills, parks or mountains, discover trail running. I could do the same trail for a week and not get sick of it. Trails are God's gift to runners. Every state I've been to has some sort of trail for runners/bikers/walkers. Find yours. Ask around if you don't know where the closest trails are to you. Get a map at your local tourist information office.

Trails aren't only good to shake things up, they make you a stronger runner. Nice dirt hiking trails are full of rocks and hills which strengthen your legs and your ankles. One of my teammates always runs her fastest when she trains solely in the mountains.

For those of you who really do have no access to any sort of trail or pathway, don't be discouraged. There are tons of other ways to spice up your runs.

One of my favorites, because of its flexibility, is fartleks (as defined in my guide to running jargon). Pick a streetlight, a telephone pole, a mailbox, a crack in the sidewalk....any point you want and increase your pace to that point. You can go however fast you want, as long as its faster than what you were running. Make each fartlek a different length. Pick different landmarks to run to.

Buy a sexy piece of running apparel. Seriously. I have this one tank top that I just feel so freakin cool in. And I have a favorite pair of running spandex that I love wearing. Sometimes when I need that extra boost it helps to wear all my favorite running apparel. I also have a pair of shoes that I think are sooo sexy. Everytime I wear them I can't help but just run fast because I love them so much. They are hot. Which makes me feel hot. Which makes my run that much better :)

I usually have my iPod on shuffle when I'm running. It gets old skipping all my boring sappy songs (think Titanic. Great lullaby song, terrible running up a giant hill song). So make yourself a running playlist! Add songs that are upbeat, songs that are funny, songs that would make your run fun. Add some songs that make you want to dance. I can't say I've never started dancing in the middle of a run....

Sometimes its nice to go on a run, leave your watch behind, forget about pace and just run. Don't worry about how fast or how long you are going, just enjoy being one with yourself.

If you always run on the treadmill.....can I just say, no wonder you hate running! Okay, personal opinion, but I would rather drive nails into my forehead then run any longer than 20 minutes on a treadmill. Get your butt outside and run.

Other ways to spice up your training....don't run the same pace, the same amount of time or the same distance every single day. I like to have 3 hard days, 3 easy days and 1 rest day every week. My hard days I run longer and/or faster and my easy days I run comfortably. On my rest day, I do nothing. Its hard. But it is so good for your body. If you don't want to take a complete rest day, at least have one day a week of no running.....do some sort of cross-training to give your body a rest.

Join a running group. A lot of running stores have community running groups for people of all ages and levels. Its a great way to make friends and find running buddies.

Running can be fun. I swear. I promise. I mean why would so many people run if it wasn't fun? Try these things and see if it helps spice up your training.

What are some things you do to keep from getting stuck in a rut?

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