Runners like routine. We set plans, we follow them and we keep going…day after day, week after week, year after year.

But inevitably, you’re going to hit a stretch where things are just off. There are many reasons, but sometimes it can take a lot of effort to get back to where you want to be.

It can happen stealthily. Circumstances can conspire against you: too busy at work, traveling, nagging injuries, winter or cold weather leaving the roads less than ideal. So you skip a run or two, maybe eat a little more junk food than before. Before you know it, you’ve only run a few times in the last couple of weeks and those runs have been struggles. It becomes easier to make excuses not to run. Not coincidentally, you find that suddenly you’ve put on some weight and you don’t feel very good about yourself.

It’s not only sneaky; it happens fairly quickly.

A big contributor to a running rut can be a general lack of motivation. This can happen over the winter if you have Seasonal Affect Disorder, but it can also be caused by something as simple as boredom. While some runners prefer to run the same routes or distances every time they go out, others may need a little more variety. The same sights and turns can get monotonous if you’re doing them over and over.

So how do you shake out of a rut?

Just like with anything else, try changing up what you’re doing. That means finding new routes to run, trying different distances (shorter or longer) and setting goals. Those goals could be as simple as running three times per week, or setting a mileage goal (x miles per week).

Another good way to get motivated is to sign up for a goal race, like a half or full marathon. Obviously, this involves more planning because you’ll need to come up with a training plan that fits your level of ability and experience. If you’ve never run a marathon before and you want to now, don’t just sign up and hope you’ll be able to do it when race day arrives. Talk to a coach or an experienced runner about what you should do to prepare (or even if you should set your sights a little lower to start).

You could also sign up for a running series, whether it’s a bunch of 5Ks or races of varying distances. The challenge of completing all the races for a commemorative jacket or medal or even just bragging rights can be just what the running doctor ordered. There are also plenty of “fun” races, from color runs to tough mudders to obstacle course events. You can even go for sheer speed by doing a 1-mile race.

If your running has become a lonely, solitary pursuit, you could also try to get a little more social by joining a local running club or a free group run like the Danvers 5K Fun Run or the ones offered weekly at local taprooms like Notch Brewing in Salem and Gentile Brewing in Beverly, among others (see the race listings below for more information). Runners of all abilities participate and the groups have become great sources of support and inspiration for those who have taken part. Sometimes a little peer pressure can be a good thing.

You can spice up your running by picking up some new gear, whether it’s new shoes or a shiny new running watch or by using a smartphone app to track your mileage and workouts. There are also coaching apps and other tools you can use to improve and enhance your running.

And let’s face it, running can be boring sometimes. When you’re in the middle of mile 18 during a marathon training long run, you’re fatigued and sore and ready to just get the run over with. That’s part of endurance running: the ability to just keep going.

Nevertheless, running doesn’t have to be boring. If you fall into a rut, change things up. It may not be easy, but sometimes change is necessary.

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Starts and stops:

• The Pot ‘O Gold 4-Miler is scheduled for Sunday, March 17 at 8 a.m. at Danvers High School, 60 Cabot Rd., Danvers. The race will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and is the first race of the 2019 Brooks North Shore Running Series. For more information, visit http://www.northshoretimingonline.com/reglive2017.aspx?eventyear_id=1598.

• The inaugural Flynnie 5K takes place on Saturday, April 13 at 10 a.m. at the AOH, 58 Lowell St., Peabody. The race is in memory of the late Kevin Flynn, legendary Danvers High School hockey coach who died in 2017. The run/walk will benefit a graduating male and female from Danvers High School. Visit https://racewire.com/register.php?id=10398 for more information.

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On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to jay.kumar@gmail.com.

 

UPCOMING RACES

Sunday, March 17

• Notch Sunday Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 11:30 a.m. Free group 5K or 10K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Wednesday, March 20

• Danvers 5K Fun Run, Osborn Tavern, 49 Maple St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

• Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 6:30 p.m. Free group 5K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Thursday, March 21

• Gentile Run Club, ABV: 3.1, 59 Park St., Beverly, 6:30 p.m. Free weekly 5K run from the Gentile taproom through Beverly and back.

• The Bent Water Thunder Squad Weekly Running Club, Bent Water Brewing Taproom, 180 Commercial St., Unit 18, Lynn, 6:30 p.m. A free weekly 3.2-mile run from the taproom to the beach led by local runner Angel Dee. Runners who complete seven runs receive a Bent Water t-shirt.

• Weekly 5K from True North Ale, 116 County Road, Ipswich, 5:30 p.m. Free, weekly timed 5K from the brewery.

Sunday, March 24

• Notch Sunday Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 11:30 a.m. Free group 5K or 10K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Wednesday, March 27

• Danvers 5K Fun Run, Osborn Tavern, 49 Maple St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 6:30 p.m. Free group 5K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Thursday, March 28

• Gentile Run Club, ABV: 3.1, 59 Park St., Beverly, 6:30 p.m. Free weekly 5K run from the Gentile taproom through Beverly and back.

• The Bent Water Thunder Squad Weekly Running Club, Bent Water Brewing Taproom, 180 Commercial St., Unit 18, Lynn, 6:30 p.m. A free weekly 3.2-mile run from the taproom to the beach led by local runner Angel Dee. Runners who complete seven runs receive a Bent Water t-shirt.

• Weekly 5K from True North Ale, 116 County Road, Ipswich, 5:30 p.m. Free, weekly timed 5K from the brewery.

Saturday, March 30

• The Step Into Spring 5K Run and Walk, Cy Tenney Park, 23 Johnson St., Peabody, 10 a.m. The out-and-back course takes runners along the Independence Greenway bike trail. The event benefits the Martin Richard Foundation. Visit http://www.northshoretimingonline.com/reglive2017.aspx?eventyear_id=1602 for more information.

 

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