It happens to newbie runners and pros alike—that point in training where the novelty wears off, the shin splints set in, and running becomes routine, monotonous, and well, boring. Whether you’ve lost motivation to hit the 3-mile mark, or you’ve just become sick of the round of your feet striking the pavement, there’s hope for improving your exercise game. In fact, according to former Olympian and running coach Jeff Galloway, author of Mental Training For Runners, a few small tweaks in your training could make all the difference.
According to Galloway, running has an evolutionary basis. “Our ancestors relied on forward motion for food,” he says. “When walking turned to running, our brains revved up to an even higher level because we were escaping a predator or hunting for survival.” That’s the reason why, when it’s done effectively, even reluctant running has a positive outcome (as long as you don’t push to the point of puking or pain). “Think of all the times you didn’t want to run but halfway through thought ‘Oh, this isn’t so bad’ and, by the end, felt better,” says Galloway. “Running turns on brain circuits that lead to good mood, vitality, and personal empowerment.” Beat out self-imposed boredom and learn to love every run with these tips.
4 Expert Tips To Help You Put The Fun Back In Run
1. Implement The Run-Walk-Run Method
Start with a simple solution, like running a certain amount and then walking. Not only will your muscles, ligaments, and tendons be placed under less stress, but you’ll be more likely to push further and rack up additional miles. “What we’ve found is that if your level of discomfort is at or above borderline for that day, your subconscious ‘monkey brain’ will expel hormones that prevent you from wanting to go on,” says Galloway. “Following a run-walk-run program will allow you to focus on each individual portion.” If you’re currently running 3 miles at a 12 minute per mile pace, break things up by running for 60 seconds and then walking for 30 seconds.
2. Change Up Your Ratios
Beat boredom and amp up the fun in your run by adopting a cognitive strategy. How? “Change ratios every ten minutes,” says Galloway. “Go from 60 seconds of running and 30 seconds of walking to a 30-seconds on, 30-seconds off breakdown.” The more you change frequency, the less tendency for old routines that lead to boredom to surface. Use changes in running patterns as a chance for an internal challenge. “See how many steps you can get in 30 seconds,” he says. “Getting more effective with stride will help make you a more efficient runner while keeping you engaged.”
3. Repeat Positive Mantras
Practice a mental rehearsal drill. If you know that you’re typically stalled during a particular portion of your usual run, or if you can anticipate that 6-mile boredom itch, come in with a game plan. According to Galloway, positive mantras are key. Some of his favorite sayings include those geared at your subconscious, like “Stop your negativism, monkey brain,” and “I’m feeling good. I’m in control. I can do this.”
It’s important to also focus on what you’re doing in the moment. “If you’ve run a course many times and know you get bored on the flat straights, reframe things by thinking ‘I’m going to run until I get to that hill,” says Galloway says. “Once you get there, break at the top and then work on making your way down.”
4. Focus on Form
Take your mind off of how “bored” you are, and instead use miles logged as an opportunity to perfect your form (and not pound yourself into the ground). Thinking about aspects like stride, gait, and posture can boost your long-term running health while keeping your mind engaged and present. “When going uphill, take short strides, touch light, and keep your feet low to the ground so that you don’t bounce,” says Galloway. “On the way down, don’t let your stride length get too long, and don’t lean so far forward that your speed gets out of control.” Running on flat ground? Keeping your body upright is effective for most.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.