Bored with your regular running routine? I can totally relate! Don't get me wrong, I love running, and it's a big part of my regular fitness routine. However, running can get a little dry from time to time. It's so important to mix things up not only to keep your running routine fun, but also to keep you on track (pun intended)!
Spice things up with these 10 ideas to make running fun and not boring.
1. Run with Friends
Two is better than one! Bring a friend along on your run to instantly make your run more fun. Slow down the pace so you can talk or challenge each other by pushing the pace a little faster than you would on your own.
If you don't have any friends who enjoy running or anyone you can convince to hit the streets or trails with you - search for local running clubs. Many running clubs often meet up at public places, and the great thing is they're filled with people who are into running and can provide encouragement and motivation in your journey, as well as endless tips to help you become a better runner!
2. Deviate From Your Routine
Break up the mundane! Try something new like a new local path or trail, adding intervals to your schedule once a week, or finding a hill to help mix up your regular routine. Trying something new will not only reinvigorate your excitement for running; it can also help you become a stronger, more well-rounded runner.
Try these fun runs for a new challenge!
Find a moderate hill, long enough to run up for several minutes. Run uphill at a moderate, sustainable pace for 2:00. Walk or jog downhill as your recovery. Repeat 8-12 times!
On your longest run of the week, for every 5 minutes at your regular long-run pace, pick up your pace for 1:00 to an up-tempo pace (this pace shouldn't feel all out, but slightly faster than your regular running speed).
Head to the track for a fun interval workout. Complete a regular run for 10 minutes. Then complete 4x800-meter pickups with a 2-minute recovery jog between each. Finish with a 10-minute run.
3. Listen to Your Body
You know what's possibly the least fun thing about running? Running injuries! I can attest that as a collective, runners are one of the worst groups of people when it comes to ignoring their bodies and pushing through. I've been there, all of my track friends have been there, and I've seen endless runners between running clubs, practices, and personal training sessions who want to succeed so badly; they don't care when their body is telling them to slow down or take rest.
Listening to your body is not only essential for the longevity of your running routine but also super important to ensure you're still having fun. I don't know about you, but whenever I've pushed through an injury in the past, it wasn't exactly my definition of fun. Be smart enough to listen to your body's aches and pains, and don't be so hard on yourself when your body is having an off day.
I challenge you to not just listen to what your body needs but to take action to fulfill those needs. Whether that be rest, recovery techniques like a big, nutrient-dense meal, foam rolling, stretching, or even taking a low impact day on your bike or elliptical.
4. Go Slow
News flash - you don't have to be fast to be a runner. One of the biggest barriers I had to overcome as a runner - was not needing to look, feel, or be fast every single time I went out for a run. I used to want to get a personal record every time I went out for a run, and I learned the hard way that running harder does not equate to running your fastest.
A training plan that incorporates 1-2 hard days a week, with 3-4 moderate and easy days, will help give your body a good balance of the work and rest it needs to grow stronger and faster. Don't be scared of slowing down. Slow down, smell the flowers, enjoy a nice and easy pace every now and again. A slow run is all about just getting out and moving your body and is a rare treat to be savored in our fast-paced world.
5. Take in the Outdoors
Perhaps the biggest reason I love running is the unique perspective you get of wherever you are. Whether seeing my own hometown from a new angle or route or exploring the streets by foot when on vacation - you'll never see the world quite the same as when you're on a run! But if you don't pause to intentionally take it all in, you might just miss it.
Pull yourself out of your head (and your pain) and take in your surroundings. The beautiful outdoors is a great distraction from your run and can make you feel more like you're on an exciting adventure than working out.
6. Train for a Race
There's no better way to keep yourself on track than a deadline - sign up for a local 5K or race near you! If you've been intimidated by races in the past, there's nothing to be scared of. Keep in mind, the majority of people who sign up for a race are just running for fun.
In fact, I recommend running your first race just for fun, with no particular goal other than finishing. With the pressure off, it'll be easy to get into the fun of the race - enjoy the music, the free food and giveaways, and the chance to be surrounded by other runners.
7. Listen to Music or a Podcast
Stay entertained during your run by listening to music or a podcast. When it comes to music - listen to whatever makes you happy. Running to upbeat music can help boost your mood and performance. I recommend building your playlist in advance so you don't have to mess with your music on your run. If you're not sure what to listen to, try one of our BPM workout playlists!
When it comes to podcasts, there is no shortage of options out there. I recommend listening to something that will keep you engaged and entertained. The goal is to make your run more fun, not the other way around. If you're interested in learning about health and wellness from certified personal trainers and other wellness professionals on hot topics - be sure to check out the 9-5 Fitness Podcast.
8. Try Hill Training
Hill training is a tough, high intensity workout that will leave you exhausted and spent but also feeling extremely accomplished. If you're ready for a fun challenge, try adding hill training into your workout schedule once a week.
Running hills will help build up your aerobic capacity and the muscles of your lower body to make you a stronger runner. If you're someone who does plan to run races, hill training can give you an edge. Hill training can be super helpful for building endurance and familiarity so that when you do hit a big hill mid-race, you're ready for the challenge.
9. Use Technology to Keep Things Interesting
Technology isn't for everyone; but, for those who do enjoy it, running tech can help to take your workouts to a whole new level. If you are interested in stats and keeping a more detailed trail of your progress, here are a few things to look for:
- Daily/Weekly Progress - Most fitness trackers, have options for tracking your daily and weekly progress, as well as your stats for specific workouts. It can be extremely helpful to look back and easily see how your mileage is changing from week to week, as well as how you're adapting to your workout program.
- Pace - As a runner, your mile pace is an important metric; you can always come back to see how your pace is changing or improving from week to week. Your pace may not always change rapidly. For most people, when you first start running, you may notice your pace quickly improves; but as you get further along into your running journey, the harder you have to work to see those little improvements. Tracking changes in your pace and celebrating them when you do see them can be a great motivator!
- Heart Rate - Tracking your heart rate is a great way to measure the success of your workout. It's not only important to make sure you're working as hard as you intend for a session - but also that you're resting enough between intervals or hills to make the most out of the time that you are working. Heart rate can also be used as a great measure during recovery runs to make sure you aren't running too fast or pushing yourself too hard.
Want to start keeping track of your stats? Give our Smart Fit Watch a try!
10. Go for a New Running Streak
Last but not least, challenge yourself to a running streak! How many days in a row can you run without breaking the streak? This is a great way to keep yourself motivated and not fall off your routine.
My one caveat to any sort of streak is it's important to take recovery days. A recovery day does not mean you need to take the day completely off and break your streak; all it means is that you make room in your schedule for low intensity to moderate intensity easy runs to let your body rebuild from harder sessions.
What are your tips and tricks for making your runs more fun? Be sure to let us know in the comments!