How to Bust Out of a Rut

No matter how much you love to run, there are bound to be days when you’re burnt out, bored, frustrated, and want to throw your running shoes out the window. Sure, routine can help keep you consistent, but mixing things up every once in a while can help you prevent from falling – feet first – into a fitness rut. Here are six easy ways to revive your running desire.

  1. Get a change of scenery. 

Find a new route. If you have a GPS, set out to run only on streets and routes that you haven’t explored before. If you’re a roadie, hit the trails. The softer surface will give your bones and joints a break from the impact on the asphalt. In the woods, the trees will provide the shade and breeze that you can’t get in the city. Plus, focusing on navigating technical terrain (i.e., not falling face first over rocks and roots), will take your mind off the mileage.

Already run trails? Hit the road or the treadmill. Freed from worrying about your footing, you’ll be able to get some quick work in.

  1. Get some company.

If you’re used to going solo, try hooking up with a buddy, or joining a group. Choose your partners carefully; picking the perfect training partner can be tougher than dating.

Having company can make the miles roll by faster; you can explore new routes and run at times of days and in places that you might not feel safe covering alone. And knowing that you have to meet someone at 5 a.m. may be just the commitment you need to keep your training on track, when it’s so tempting to sleep in.

Ask about group runs at a local running store or club (find clubs near you here). Friendly, informal runs are usually offered weekly and are open to runners of all abilities. Before joining a group for the first time, find out about the typical pace, route, and crowd. Are you likely to be the only newbie?

  1. Reset your goals. 

Make some goals that have nothing to do with pace or the outcome of a race or any given run. You might jump into our summer running streak, or start one of your own. Make a goal to run someplace new every day. Set some smaller short-term process goals that ultimately help you get fitter and faster.

Do you always bonk on your long run? Aim to perfectly execute a fuelling strategy, refueling every 30 minutes. If you typically walk up hills, try running up them or maintaining the same pace as you do on even ground. Get more tips here.

  1. Go race. 

Even if you’re a die-hard long-distance runner, jumping into a 5-K is a great way to get a break from the monotony of training solo and rev up your competitive juices. There are usually 5-Ks in most areas on most weekends, so it should be easy to find one any time near you. Check out our calendar

Or, you can use a 5-K in lieu of your usual speed session at the track.

  1. Plug in….

Sometimes it’s hard to gauge your effort level on your own, and the wind, fatigue, hills, and burnout can make your daily workout feel like a slogfest. If you usually run without technology, strap on a heart-rate monitor and/or a GPS to determine exactly how far and how fast you’re going.

On easy days, these devices can help ensure that you’re going slow enough to give your muscles a genuine chance to recover, so you have more energy for high-quality workouts like speed sessions, tempo work, and long runs. During high-quality workouts, these devices can ensure that you’re working hard enough to get the most benefit out of your workout so you can reach your race-day goals. Read our latest reviews here.

And you don’t have to take technology so seriously: Strap on the GPS to run your errands, to find out how much distance you usually cover in the car. Run to a destination you typically drive to and have a friend pick you up. Even just hooking up some tunes can do you good. Studies have shown that listening to upbeat music will make the effort seem easier. (On the roads, keep the volume low enough to hear an oncoming vehicle, and wear only one earbud.) Check out our playlists here.

  1. ….Or tune out.

If you tend to be a slave to the numbers, on one day each week take a tech time-out and run by feel. Sometimes, trying to boost the pace your training watch is displaying can spur you to override important signals your body is sending about how hard you’re working and whether you are on the verge of injury or burnout.

By leaving the devices at home, you can continuously scan your body to evaluate factors like how labored your breathing is and whether you’re overreaching on your stride. 

When you’re running without a watch, it will be easier to bring yourself to adjust your effort if it’s hot, there’s a headwind, or you forgot to fuel and are running on empty. And some studies suggest that tuning into your body may be the best way to dial in to your perfect pace.

Subscribe to Runner's World


Related Articles