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September 13, 2013

On The Run: Change things up to bust out of a running rut

Runners are often creatures of habit.

You have to be to get up at the crack of dawn when you could be sleeping for another hour and venturing out on the road to get a run in. If you’re training for a particular race or goal, you have to be particularly focused on those days when you just don’t feel like doing anything.

But what happens when you just feel like you’re going through the motions? Or you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in terms of speed or endurance? Or your motivation level is an all-time low?

It’s time to shake things up.

One simple solution is to start with the run itself. If you run the same route every day, try to come up with a different one; if you don’t know of other running routes in your area, use websites like MapMyRun.com or Gmap-pedometer (http://gmap-pedometer.com/) to map out new ones.

If you run on the treadmill every day, try running outside. Treadmills are great when you have no other options or the weather outside is nasty, but they can be deadly boring. Although I know runners who like to binge-watch TV shows or movies while on a home treadmill, so it can work the other way, too.

If you’re bored just running by yourself, find a running buddy. From personal experience, those 20-mile long runs are a little easier to take when you’ve got someone alongside you sharing the experience. The conversation tends to decrease during that last hour as oxygen becomes more of a commodity, but even the silence between two runners is preferable to hearing yourself pant and wheeze on your own.

If you just run comfortably when you go, try varying your pace by doing intervals. Or go to the local track to do some speed work. And if you want to improve your running performance and feel as though you’re out of ideas, a running coach can help. Locally, you can get good coaching and advice by joining a running club such as the North Shore Striders in Beverly or Wicked Running Club, both of which offer coaching and track workouts. Working with a certified personal trainer can also help you fine-tune and re-energize your running, as well as introduce some other types of cross-training to complement your runs.

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