8 Ways to Spruce Up Your Runs

Hi ya’ll!!  I wanted to talk today about some ways that you can spruce up your runs.  Let’s face it, running can get boring at times.  We go through seasons of burn out or lack of motivation.  Maybe our bodies just aren’t happy with all the miles or our minds are struggling to connect.  That’s when it may be time to make a few simple changes in order to keep things fresh and interesting.  I started thinking about some things I have done over the Summer to keep running fun and I wanted to share them with you.

This quote is so true.  It takes little steps to keep going, especially if you are training for a big race.  So, here are 8 things I have done the past few months to keep running fun for me.
1. Fartleks/hill fartleks:
You may or may not have heard this funny little word floating around.  If you aren’t familiar with what it means just think of it as playing with your speed during a regularly scheduled run.  There are no scheduled paces to hit or time limits.  It’s simply incorporating some speed into your run then coming back to a comfortable pace.  It helps to use markers outside that you see on your run.  For example, get your eye on the next fire hydrant, pick up your speed unti you get to it, then slow back down.  You can do the same thing with stop lights, trees, the runner up ahead of you.  Catch them, then slow back down.  
Another way to incorporate fartlek’s are to do them on hills.  Every time you come to a rise or a hill, speed up.  Push your speed more than you might be comfortable with going up hill.  Once you reach the top, ease up for about 10 seconds and resume your normal pace.  I did this on my run on Friday morning and it felt great.  It made my run more interesting and gave me something to look ahead to as I ran. 
2. Hill repeats
I know we just talked about hills a bit but this is different.  I’m talking find one hill.  A good one.  I have two monsters(although since I went to Oregon last week I have redefined what a monster hill is.  For Texas, the ones behind my house are big..enough…click here for my race recap) behind my house with a flat stretch inbetween.  After about a 5-10 minute warm up jog around my neighborhood I’ll come camp at the hills.  Run up at a moderate effort, slow down in between(about .25 mile) then down the other one and turn right around and run back up.  If you only had one hill then warm up then hit your repeats for a good 30-40 minutes.  It’s a killer workout, keeps you busy and you stay in one spot which is nice when you get tired of your route.  

Speaking of your route….
3.  Change up your route
Ok ya’ll…I live in a suburb of Dallas.  It’s not the most scenic place on the planet.  We don’t have mountains or hills or lakes or various back roads we can run on.  We have tons of sidewalks, Sonics, dry cleaners and Wal-greens.  We are not lacking for grocery stores and stop lights(that can be a real pain by the way) and elementary schools.  That being said, my route gets BORING.  I think my biggest struggle with my last marathon training process was boredom.  There aren’t a lot of places around here that I can go run 18 miles.  By the end,  I was totally burned out.  So, I’ve started changing my routes.  If it means I run on the grass instead of the sidewalk, so be it.  If it’s a really hilly route that I’ve avoided out of pure laziness, I’m trying to tackle it.  You know what?  I’m getting stronger and it has helped changing my view, even if it’s just from seeing Tom Thumb instead of Kroger.  
4. Go naked
Not in the way you may think.  Don’t go naked, you’ll go to jail.  But, strip off your devices.  This includes the Garmin and earbuds.  I know, blasphemy.  However, sometimes going free of all the distractions is a necessary evil to keep your running fresh.  Without the watch, you’re not obsessing over your pace.  Without the music, you can hear what’s going on around you and get a little in tune with what your body may be saying to you.  Sometimes, without getting too mushy, it’s nice to hear birds chirp and the breeze blow.  Change it up people.  It won’t kill ya.  
5.  Invite a friend
I know what you’re thinking.  Don’t you run alone?  Why yes I do.  However, I do occasionally run with a friend and it’s a good thing for me.  I need to do it more often.  It gives you someone to talk to and maybe even compete with a little to keep you moving when you may otherwise quit or stop.  It’s fun to get to the end of a run and feel like you’ve just accomplished something together.  This is my occasional running buddy…if we lived closer to each other I think we would make it more frequent.  Our goal is to run together once a week.  It’s a good goal as we’re both training for the same marathon but are on totally different training plans.  
6. Books on tape
Ok so here’s the deal. When I run I prefer music.  I can go without when I need to and sometimes really enjoy hearing what’s going on around me.  Plus,  I have been working on keeping my music off or low for safety reasons.  However, when you are headed out for a solo 18 miles through a less than entertaining suburban route, the miles can drag.  My friend Karlye(pictured above) introduced me to books on tape during my last marathon training process.  It is awesome!! I was skeptical because generally books on tape put me to sleep.  Not ideal for running.  But, if you can find one you really love and get into, it helps those miles fly by.  
7.  Get off the road
I’ve mentioned I live in the suburbs….of Dallas.  Trails are not exactly abounding around here…but they do exist.  I have found that taking a break from the pounding pavement is much more fun on a trail.  It gives your legs a break and also a unique challenge.  Changes things up and keeps them fresh.  Although my last trail run left me sore for days, and it was only 3 miles ya’ll.  Sad but true.  If you have access to some trail running..do it.  It’s fun and different and gets you all up into nature.  Leave those headphones at home.  You want to hear people coming behind you especially if it’s a trail that is biker friendly.  Just trying to keep you safe.  You’re welcome. 
8.  Change up your routine
Last but not least, go at a different time of day.  Hood to Coast definitely pushed me out of my running comfort zone.  Running at 3 am is not exactly the norm.  I have talked to so many people from that race who have said the middle of the night leg was their best run.  Granted it was gorgeous and peaceful and COLD.  However, it was different.  Since I got back I have taken several evening runs.  It’s not my favorite.  My dinner is usually in my throat, or I’m starving because I haven’t eaten.  But, it sure makes me appreciate my morning runs a lot more and adds some spice to my routine.  Plus, you can see some killer sunsets.
What do you do to keep running fun?
What are some things you do to change things up?