People get bored. It’s what we do. I am pretty sure it is what seperates us from the monkeys. Want to make sure that your species survives? Give them about a 30 second attention span and make getting attention the most important thing there is to about 85%, low ball figure, of the species. So how then do we keep running exciting? How do we keep it popping fresh and out of sight and dope stupid? Here are a couple of rules I have found that help me stay interested in running.
1) Why are you running?
This is not going to keep you interested in running very long. If you think that losing weight will make you interested in something, chances are you are wrong. We are vain yes. But vain enough to spend hours doing something that we hate? If you run 10-12 minute miles and you run 15 miles a week, that is 150-180 minutes or 2.5-3 hours doing something that you find WHOLLY uninteresting, just to be given a few compliments. This may be able to motivate you, but here is the problem with this, THE COMPLIMENTS COME AFTER MONTHS OF WORKING OUT. So better to use being more healthy and more in shape, aka hot shit, to only get you to get up off of the couch and out the door. The first step should contain all of your hopes and dreams for your new body and new healthy way of living. That’s it. One step.
2) Where am I running?
This is what I find to be one of the most entertaining aspects of running. It is able to be done anywhere. Seriously. Where can you not run? If you can put your feet there, you can run there. I am fortunate to live on a dirt road that gives me the chance to treat the road as a very safe running path. So when I start a run I have a few choices. I can run only on the dirt road. This consist of a down and back sort of run with a turn around point. I also have several large circuits I can run as well as several additional down and back sort of runs. Now, for those of you who have to deal with cars and traveled roads, do not fear. You still have several options when it comes to running. If you have a loop that you can do, most neighborhoods were laid out by people and consist of blocks (pretty freaking handy for runners), you can just reverse the loop that you normally do. Pretty simple right? This is the first way that I try to jazz up a run. In the words of Missy Elliot, “yerp hap something and reverse it.”
The next trick is to just take off. Sometimes I just run until I feel as though I am half way, or three fourths of the way, tired so then I turn around or find some serpentine path back to home. This “free running” is cool because no matter how far you run you will not feel like you failed. If you are tired and do not run that far, eh, you were not feeling that great and rest, after all, is important; and you did run some right? Yes you did. #boom. It can also work for the better. You can run further than you thought because you did not feel the pressure of completing a course. You had no pressure going in so whatever you did was going to be good. You felt good so you just keep running. Some of my fastest and best feeling runs, are ones where I just take off and run hard until I get tired, turn around, and try to hang on until the end.
3) How am I running?
I find this to be the most difficult of my running entertainment. Sometimes you run fast and sometimes you run slow and mixing the two together can make for a mentally pleasing run. I believe the term is Fartlek, running a varied tempo run, but I think of it as training the yourself for the mental part of running. So I generally start this run at a normal pace. Not a fast pace, but not a slow pace. Right now, it is somewhere around 9:00 per mile pace. I run that for at least a 1/2 mile to sort of be a little warmed up before starting to vary the tempo. Now the hard part, pick two points. Any thing will do. You do not necessarily need a starting point, just take off, but the ending point is very important. When you start, pick up your pace to what I call my “attacking pace”. It is certainly not a sprint, but it is a little bit of an offense pace to anyone you may have been running with. Namely my wife for me. It should be a pace that makes you look like an absolute douche trying to impress a group of girls with a collective IQ of about 60. As a side point, I do not condone making fun of people, no matter how stupid or douchy, but stupid people do not read so I don’t really thing of this as making fun of them. Anyway. It should be a daring pace to say the least. Now once you find that pace, do everything in your power to hold that pace until you reach the end. The first couple times you will miss the mark, but make sure you are tired at the end, but that you can finish it. After you cross the finish, you can walk briefly, but try to settle into a slow jog. Now the hardest part happens. After jogging what what is not going to seem like long enough, 3-5 mins or maybe somewhere just short of a 1/2 mile, pick a new end point and take off. It is unbelievably difficult to find yourself tired and still finding the the will to make your self speed up. This will help you tremendously when you find yourself in a road race and you need to dig deep to keep pace and you my friend, will be able to find it.
This also helps what seems like something that should come natural, it helps you notice your foot speed. As a runner, you need to be able to tell, without a clock, if you are slowing down or speeding up. The more you actively vary your running pace, the more you will be in tune with your leg and foot speed. This will help you notice quickly if you are falling off of your goal pace. It can also help you to speed up your pace in a very controlled way, that can help you shave a 10 or so seconds off of your final time, without having to speed up so much that you fall flat. Being able to notice those small changes in foot speed can really help you become a runner that is able to hit their marks with a high degree of accuracy.
4) Who are you running with?
Find people to run with. People are fun. People are mostly good. Be good people. Most people who run are doing it for all the right reasons. Most are only competing with the clock. Here is a test I borrowed from comedian Pete Holmes. After through a race, sing the opening lyrics to “Mama Said” (Mama said there be days like this). Make sure it makes you smile. This will keep you in the right state of mind I promise.
Back to the people though. You do not always have to run with people, but they can make it a hell of a lot more fun. Simple tip, but possibly the hardest. To help find people, most running stores have some kind of program or club and most major cities have a running club as well. Seek it out. Google + running + your town = finding people.
Hike Your Hike.