Ways to Get Out of Your Running Rut

Runners are often creatures of habit — we run the same routes, at the same pace, usually during the same time of day. Here are some ways you can avoid getting stuck in a running rut, and make your runs more fun, interesting, and motivating.

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Do you usually run alone? Try to convince a friend or family member to come along with you — even if it's just once a week. Even if they're slower than you, you'll find that helping someone else will help get you excited about running again. If you can't find anyone who will run with you, you can also try finding a running group.

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Play Beat the Clock

I love doing this when I'm running an out-and-back route. Begin timing your run as soon as you start. At your turnaround point, hit the split button on your running watch/timer, or just take note of your time. Try increasing your pace on the way back, with the goal of beating your time for the first half (which, by the way, is called a negative split).

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Plan a route that has at least one hill in it and, when you come to it, run up and down it a few times before moving on. If you don't have a lot of hills near you, use a set of stairs or bleachers.

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Find a New Place to Run

Last year I found a short trail about two miles from my home. I had never run on it before, and I was excited to give it a try. It's only about a mile long, but I love running to it, doing an out and back, and then running back home. Or sometimes I'll incorporate it as part of a much longer run. Either way, it helps break of the monotony of a run by changing up my running surface and scenery.

If you always run on the same roads or paths, try breaking from the routine and finding some new routes. Talk to other runners or look on sites like MapMyRun.com for inspiration. Although I love the convenience of just running out my front door, sometimes it's worth it to drive to ​different locations to discover and explore new routes.

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Do a Random Interval Workout

Pick a landmark in the distance, such as a tree or a stop sign, and pick up the pace until you get to it. After you recover for a minute or two, choose another landmark and speed up again.

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If you normally keep to yourself during your runs, try to be more of an extrovert. You'll be amazed at how some people react to a simple hello or a big smile from a passing runner. The positive vibes you generate will help keep you motivated for the rest of your run.

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Count 'Em Up

If you run where there are a lot of other runners, try this game: Pick out a specific article of clothing, such as black running shorts, to look for during your run. Then count how many runners you see wearing that piece of clothing. If you're running with a friend, you can each guess how many you'll spot during the run and then see who comes the closest.