How To Get Out Of A Running Rut
Since I started running eight years ago, I have run relatively consistently; taking part in races varying from 1 mile to 100 kilometres and covering approximately 5,000km each year. There are several reasons I believe I have managed to maintain my enjoyment and enthusiasm for the sport. I hope that by sharing my experience and tips that many of you will be able to think about your motivation and goals and enjoy your running for a long time to come.
Understand your reason(s) for running
Why did you start? Do you want to keep fit or lose weight? Are you running to challenge yourself and see what you are capable of - whether that’s finding out how far or fast you can run? Do you want to explore new routes?
Set a challenge or goal that motivates you
I often think of running as a form of self-analysis. Before you set a new challenge or goal, take into consideration what shape you are currently in and envisage what you would like to achieve over a certain period. The challenge doesn’t always have to be aiming for a personal best. When I’ve taken a few weeks off running after marathons or ultramarathons I have prioritised getting back into a good training routine by embarking on a run streak. It can be difficult to decide a challenge or goal to aim for; if it is too difficult it will be demoralising when you can’t fit in the training or hold the right paces. If it is too easy you won’t be motivated or get a sense of satisfaction when you complete it. Over the years my motivation for running has changed numerous times, from gaining fitness for football, to seeing how quickly I can run a mile, 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and marathons to determining just how far I can actually run. I run and race to learn more about myself and find out what I’m capable of.
Find scenic, inspiring routes to run
I first started running when I was living in Devon. Thanks to playing football regularly for several years I had a decent level of fitness. I could manage 5+ miles relatively comfortably. To fit “training” into my week I would head out a few times a week covering the same hilly route, at first it was nice to run on the country lanes but it soon became tedious. As my stamina increased, I started exploring new scenic routes and challenged myself on the hills. I found it incredibly rewarding to monitor my progress while increasing my capabilities to run further and see new places. When I moved to London running played a large part in finding my bearings, and I signed up to races all over the city. I also headed to Hampstead Heath and Greenwich Park regularly to do hills sessions and enjoy amazing views of the city.
When I moved to London running played a large part in finding my bearings, and I signed up to races all over the city.
Join a local running club or social crew
There are so many benefits to running with a group of like-minded runners. They will be able to offer tips and advice in relation to training and racing and help you to push yourself on a regular basis at training sessions. Through running with various groups and athletics clubs over the last few years I have made lots of friends in London and Chelmsford. Most weekends someone is taking part in an epic challenge or race and that really inspires me.
Build good habits and get into a sustainable routine
I find it incredibly rewarding when I get into a solid training routine. It is great to make progress week after week building towards a goal. If you can commit to taking part in regular sessions with a group or doing race specific training, you will soon reap the rewards. If I can hit two or three key sessions/runs a week and hold the right race specific paces my fitness improves greatly. After attending track sessions on Tuesday nights for several years I bettered my PBs for every distance. It is important to get into a routine you can sustain for a long period of time to continue improving. Taking part in run streaks has helped me understand what I am capable of day in day out and how long it takes to recover from hard sessions. Run streaks often force you to hold back a little on the hard sessions to ensure you can run for multiple days in a row. Training, especially for longer distances, is a question of patience and perseverance.
Periodise training throughout the year
If you run the same distances on the same terrain all year round, unless you are incredibly motivated, you will start to get bored, lose enjoyment and your performances will plateau. Throughout the year it is good to set yourself various goals; perhaps target a half marathon or marathon in the spring, then mix it up by going shorter or longer during the summer and then build towards another half or marathon in the autumn. Also vary the terrain you run on. If you are looking to improve your stamina by doing long runs why not explore some new trails. If you are working towards a 5km or 10km race join a group at your local track or run fartlek and interval sessions more regularly. After recovering from a marathon, I always really enjoy taking part in specific sessions and aiming to hold certain paces.
If you are working towards a 5km or 10km race join a group at your local track or run fartlek and interval sessions more regularly.