Become An Even Better Runner
by Jackie Burgmann, creator of "Hot at Home" - The Transformation Solution for People Who Hate The Gym
Running is a great way to stay in shape. It's fun and easy to do. It's great for training your cardiovascular system as well as being a fantastic full body workout. For some it's a great mental stimulant and mood booster also.
But if you've been a runner for a while now it might be starting to feel like the 'same old, same old'. If you do anything long enough in the same way every time, it could eventually wind up boring you and not feeling challenging anymore:
And, while boredom is one thing, if your particular running routines feel like they're no longer challenging you, then you could be stuck on a plateau and no longer getting to your goals quite as quickly (or at all).
If your goals are to become a faster runner, or increase your endurance or distance then doing the same thing over and over again is probably not going to result in you improving on any of those goals. As a matter of fact all it might result in is stagnation.
If you're interested in continuing your progress as a runner, it's necessary not only to change things up but to make your routines harder so your body can respond and advance in the direction you desire.
Here are some simple ideas for making your usual running routines more challenging and interesting again:
Add Some Hills Into Your Route
This is pretty easy to accomplish unless you live on a prairie. Find a path that has some hills along it and run there instead of your usual flat path.
Running up hills is more difficult than running on a flat path so adding hills to your run will help you increase your stamina without making any other changes.
Do Interval Training
Intervals are great for increasing your strength as a runner and your speed. They're also very simple to do.
Interval training requires that you do harder periods of work alternating with easier periods, which act as 'recovery' intervals.
So, just run as hard and as fast as possible for a set period of time (ie. 30 seconds or one minute) then run slower and easier for another set amount of time (ie. another 30 seconds or one minute) to allow you to recover enough to run as hard and as fast as possible with your next 'work' interval.
Alternate these two types of intervals throughout your regular run.
You can even do this on your regular path if you choose, just remember to take your interval timer with you.
Or you could do longer intervals of 10 minutes hard running and 10 minutes easy running to slowly build up your ability to run greater distances at a faster pace.
Hillsprints are another good form of interval training and you only need one hill.
Find a great hill with a good incline and long enough to take you at least 20-30 to sprint up. Then sprint up it
and turn around at the top and return to the bottom at a slow easy jog (or walk), then turn around and sprint
back up it. Repeat until you're feeling exhausted.
Run In The Sand
This is easy to accomplish if you happen to have a beach or desert nearby but without one of these handy this may be more of a challenge to pull off (because obviously, you need sand).
However, if you can find yourself a good long length of sandy beach you'll discover that, due to its unstable nature, running in the sand is quite a bit more difficult than running on dirt, grass or asphalt.
You'll need to dig in and push off harder to keep the same pace than when you're on your usual path (which I'm assuming is probably stable and hard).
Run In The Water
Running in the water is similar to running in the sand, but it's the added resistance of the water that makes your run even more challenging. Plus, the deeper you go the more challenging your run will be.
You can try this in the shallow end of a swimming pool for a more stable surface under your feet, but you may get frustrated running back and forth in a short pool, or have difficulty finding a pool with a shallow enough end that you can actually run. In most pools I've seen, the shallow end is about 3 feet deep, so you may only be able to shuffle back and forth in waist deep water.
A far better option is to get yourself into a lake or ocean.
Now you've got water resistance and unstable sand under your feet to increase the challenge.
And if you're in an ocean the deeper you go the challenge will become even greater, not just because of the resistance of the water against your legs, but also because of the ocean waves contributing to the instability.
Of course you could go as deep as your shoulders but I guarantee you won't really be doing much running at that point. You'll probably be swimming!
I've discovered that ankle-deep to knee-deep water are better depths to reasonably increase the difficulty of your runs and still be able to maintain a running pace.
Add weight to your body while you are on your regular run. Once you take off the weight and test your speed and endurance you'll most likely discover you can run faster or longer (or both) without the additional weight slowing you down.
A word of caution on this one before you weight up: if you're going to add weights to your own bodyweight before you go running, opt for a backpack like the guys in the army do, instead of ankle weights. Ankle weights can add a significant amount of additional stress on your leg joints and feet so it's best to avoid using them.
These simple but effective changes to your regular running routines will help you intensify your runs and make them more challenging so you can continue on your path to improved endurance and speed.
And they'll make things interesting for you again, too!
See you on the path.
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