If you’re at all like me, it’s easy to become a creature of habit with running. We tend to run the same routes, race the same races, and repeat the same kind of training season after season. But that can get a bit dull and it certainly can stagnate your running. So I’m proposing that in 2014, we shake things up a bit. Nothing radical, just a few simple changes to keep it interesting and keep us growing as runners. My five to try:
- Get off the pavement and onto a trail. There’s nothing better than taking your shoes off the pavement and onto the dirt. It’s an entirely different experience and one that not only refreshes the mind, but the muscles as well. Give a local trail a try sometime this year. I have a feeling you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Mentor a beginner. Can you remember back to when you first started running? You were probably pretty intimidated by the whole thing and in search of advice on all things running related. Take a new runner under your wing this year and help him or her to get the most out of his/her training.
- Go slow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–most runners run too fast on their easy days. Try to set aside even one day a week to slow things down and let your pace go. You’d be surprised at how refreshed this can make your legs feel the next time out. Start by doing this the day after a hard run to get the most benefits.
- Volunteer at a race or with a local running club. Trust me, there aren’t any race directors out there who couldn’t use a little help. Find a race nearby and give up a morning to pitch in or find another way to help out behind the scenes.
- Try a new race distance. I’m kind of dumbfounded sometimes by how many runners out there have done the marathon distance and half marathon distance only. There are so many other short distances and you really might be surprised by how much you like them. My personal favorite? The 10-miler.
These are just starting points and I could easily have made this list longer. The point is, a new year is a natural place to start fresh, and I think there are plenty of ways to hit the refresh button on your running.
What new thing might you try in 2014? Did you try anything new with your running in 2013?