Change It Up
Getting in a rut? Are your workouts getting boring? Change it up. Here are a few suggestions.
GO SOFT. It's hard to stay motivated with shinsplints, so get off the pavement for a few days and run on a cross-country course or unpaved bike paths.
THINK FAST . The runners Christy Coughlin coaches in Wilmette, Illinois, always get a boost from this simple negative-splits workout: Run for 20 minutes as slowly as you want, then turn around and run home faster. "The long warmup helps you feel great and run faster on the way back," says Coughlin
FORGET TIME. Shane Bogan, who coaches distance runners in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, advises leaving your watch at home once in a while. "It's liberating not to be worried about pace," Bogan says.
BLAZE A NEW PATH. "If you do the same runs all the time, it can beat you down," says Olympian Alan Culpepper. GPS systems work great for mapping new routes. Or check out favoriterun.com or usatf.org/routes, which use Google Maps to let you plan and save routes.
RUN AT LUNCH. Daniel Sheil, a marathon coach in Portland, Oregon, recommends lunchtime runs for two reasons: (1) You get your workout in before the day gets away from you; (2) You get a midday break from work stress.
PAY YOURSELF. Set a price for attaining a certain weekly mileage goal. When you hit it, pay up. Keep your mileage money in a jar, and once it accumulates, buy yourself that new running jacket you've been ogling.
BEEN MARATHONING FOR YEARS? Maybe it's time to try an ultra. Or the mile.
HEAD FOR THE HILLS. "When I need a boost, I attack a hill workout," says Greg Meyer, winner of the 1982 Chicago Marathon and 1983 Boston Marathon. "You can't do hills halfhearted." Meyer believes the difficulty of the workout brings out the best in him.
QUIT RUNNING IN CIRCLES. Andy Steinfeld, who coaches marathon runners in Maryland, says group "point to point" runs are a fun way to mix things up. His runners head out for 12 to 20 miles, then refuel at a local restaurant before hopping on the subway to ride back to the starting point.
RUN TRAILS to challenge your body and mind. "Trails are a fantastic way to give your training a change of pace," says Long Beach, California, coach Todd Rose. Rose advises always running trails with a partner and a cell phone to stay safe.
TRY A TRI. Logging a chunk of your weekly miles in the pool and on the bike for a triathlon can reinvigorate your mind and body--and running.
BE CREATIVE. If the idea of going on your regular four-miler just sinks you further into your recliner, remember that there are other ways to put in some miles--like a pickup game of soccer, flag football, or ultimate Frisbee. A soccer midfielder runs up to six miles in a regulation 90-minute game.