Heifers! I'm excited once again to have been asked to guest blog for my friends over at Runners Equipped. Some great people with amazing resources for runners - check them out! They asked me to write up a little piece on how to spruce up your running - here is the article, below!
This is a guest post by Melissa Kahn, avid runner and fitness lover. Check out her article below:
You’ve had a stressful day at work. And when you say “stressful,” you mean: “Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret, and I need you to create a whole new species of human.” On top of that, your eldest kid thought it would be a brilliant idea to give your youngest kid a pack of gum—followed by a DIY haircut to cover up the evidence of wrongdoing. Your mother-in-law just called to ask why you gave your kid a mullet after your brilliant child’s brilliant father (aka “the hubs) live-casted the event on Facebook without explanation. Ugh. Double ugh.
Now, it’s common knowledge that you’re a superhero, but not everyone realizes that you get your special powers from your red ruby slippers—er, sneakers (with red sparkly laces). Not only have you survived today’s pandemonium, you’re already laced up because you’re committed to hitting the pavement for one hour of solid, pure, unadulterated ALONE time. It’s the only time of day—one measly hour—that you can be free from thinking for everyone else for once and sit with your own thoughts. This is the “selfish” part of the day where you regroup and refresh. It’s your daily venture into The Twilight Zone, where every tree on your running path whispers your name and every song on your randomized playlist is precisely the battle song that’ll keep you going. But let’s be real: Sometimes, it gets boring. And, after all you’ve been through, you need help sprucing up the old running habits so you can stay inspired.
I’m here to tell you: Don’t Stop Believin’. No, literally: Anything by the band Journey should be at the top of your playlist. But also, don’t fret: There are many ways to invigorate your runs and shake things up a bit—without breaking the budget and traveling to far away countries—in order to regain your sanity. Let’s discuss a few options that’ll keep your running routine refreshed as you work towards a healthier you:
1. Add Some Stairs!
You already know that running at a slight incline is great for your glutes, so why not take it to the next level and mix some stair work into your program. If you’re a track runner, head up the bleachers every third lap. Or, search for local hiking trails that include a stair component built into the side of the hill. Not only will you activate different muscle groups, you’ll be activating your mental agility, too. Warning: do NOT try stairs if your mind isn’t razor sharp. The best part: Incorporating a stair routine on a regular basis has the potential to double your sweat output (or shall I say perspiration?) and enhance your strength and endurance over time.
2. Sprinting is another great way to switch things up!
After you’re properly warmed up, try sprinting (all-out effort!) for 20 seconds, and recover for 10 seconds. Then repeat that cycle four times before backing off and running your regular pace. Keep in mind that if you’re new to running, it is not advised to go all out at first. Gradually build up to complete the four-minute cycle, so you don’t make yourself vulnerable to injury. Goals are great, but hitting them too hard from the beginning could be counter-productive. Your joints need time to acclimate to your new running lifestyle. The last thing you want is to twist your ankle or damage your meniscus.
3. Change up your route!
This seems like an obvious suggestion, but it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of running the same paths, because we know the route and the time it’ll take to get back to the “zoo” (aka: home). Take time out of your day once every few weeks and research a couple new running trails to try out that month. Print out the path if it helps, and keep it in your car so you have it as reference on a day you’re feeling especially adventurous. Find a safe park you haven’t tried or maybe a trail with soft dirt instead of your usual concrete loop. You’d be surprised what a difference it makes to vary up the scenic backdrop and challenge yourself on new terrain. If you weren’t already aware, trail running can be much easier on your body than pounding the pavement. If you love nature but feel like you’ve lost a little bit of your connection to the wild side, this is an obvious win. Even one day a week in a more natural setting can re-invigorate your spirit and renew your passion for the sport.
4. Recruit some new friends and bring them along!
Running alone provides many people the much needed “down time” to be in their own space, with their own thoughts. But if you find that you’re getting bored with your own jokes, why not expand your social circles? Tagging along with a few buddies or running club can really change your perspective on “business as usual.” In addition to letting others do the thinking for you (like suggesting new routes), it’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re having FUN. The running community is like a secret society of cool people that love you and accept you, especially when you can find your “tribe”—those who can honor your pace and sync up schedules. It doesn’t hurt if they can laugh at your corny impressions of Trump as you yell “Make America hydrate again!” at the water fountain. Search the web for local running clubs and teams, and if you’re coming up short on options, try reaching out to your local running stores. The pros know who’s out there running and are usually happy to serve as a resource and some might even be able to facilitate an introduction to local run club leaders.
5. Slow down, and go long!
Keep in mind that going faster and harder isn’t the only way to switch things up. Focusing on distance is a great way to increase your endurance, and may provide an excellent opportunity to discover new scenery or parts of the city you’ve ignored. Remember, though, that you should never increase your distance more than about 10% each week, in order to avoid unnecessary injury. Nothing says boredom and humdrum like a runner who can’t run!
There are many ways to “Shake it Up!” (sing it with me!) without embarrassing your kid, who keeps reminding you that Taylor Swift is actually saying “Shake it Off.” In any case, be sure to play it safe by sticking to routes that are tried and true and grabbing a friend to navigate new trails so you don’t find yourself lost or vulnerable. A small amount of planning and willingness to ask for help can help you break free of the cobwebs of boredom and breathe new life into your routine runs.