Last week I wrote about how yoga is boring but this week, we’re going to look at how running is boring. Or, at least how people tend to think running is boring.
News flash, I refuse to think it is.
To be fair, I am not saying treadmill running is exciting. Or interesting. It feels like nothing other than time consuming and I understand that. But running itself is not boring. Not at all!
I’ll start off with just a little tip: if you can run outside…do!
And also, running on a treadmill often is a necessary evil. I run on the treadmill. For instance, the other day there was a very thick coating of ice on all the streets and there was freezing rain. So what did I do? I hopped onto the treadmill and did some speed work. I ran a very quick few miles and that physical discomfort kept me plenty busy.
So there’s some advice. If you do hate running on the treadmill but you know you’ll need to, plan on doing some quick speed work.
All right, onto running.
Running is not boring. Nope, nope, nope. But sometimes it can be really tough. We’ll break this down into two sections: beginner runners and seasoned runners.
No goals, no willpower.
Yeah, when you’re just starting to run (or when you only know school running) it seems to drag on forever. But I honestly can’t remember the last time I thought a run took forever or dragged on…even on the treadmill. Why? Because I set goals.
Setting goals, pace related, time related, distance related, etc keeps your mind engaged. It keeps it working towards something. Running is more mental than physical for me and a lot of others. Learning to tune out the boredom or desire to stop is a big part of it. But there are things that can help, like setting goals.
You can also run somewhere. Make the halfway point of your run something cool.
Mix it up.
OO! But it isn’t.
The best way to set yourself up for success as a new runner is to learn about running. Running isn’t just about getting outside and going for x amount of miles at the same pace, one foot after the other. Sure, this is what long runs look like but there’s a whole plethora of different kinds of runs.
How about hill runs? Run up a hill fast, run down it slow, and repeat for 10-20 minutes. Fartleks? Run fast to the stop sign, during a chorus, to that next house, recover for a block. Repeat! Negative splits? Run that second half faster than your first.
Sometimes we just need to get started. And sometimes we are not solo runners. I love running alone. But sometimes it really is nice to run with a pal. It takes your mind off the physical struggle and the monotony of yes, one foot after another. Find a friend! Find a group! Struggle together.
Deal with it.
At the end of the day, there’s a certain amount of mental restraint you have to exercise with running. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Running is more mental than physical. There are days when my body could go on forever, I don’t get sore later or the next day. But I can’t do anything else. I can’t do homework, I can’t motivate myself to vacuum. I even fuss about washing my hair because I drained my willpower.
And that’s just part of it.
It’s not supposed to be easy. With the decision to take a step, every single ones, comes the decision to stop. You don’t have to run that next step. That next minute. That next mile. But you work your willpower and you keep going. That’s the hardest part of running and it’s so valuable everywhere else.
So don’t give up on it. What you’re feeling is normal and it does get easier.
But what if you’ve been running for awhile and for whatever reason, you’re just not feeling it anymore? Well, my first piece of advice is check to see if you’re over-training. Are you tired a lot? Is your resting heart rate elevated? Are you starting to get more injuries? If that’s the case, take a few days to a week off and do some light cross-training.
Otherwise, there are some other things you can try.
Vary your routine.
Go on an adventure! Go left instead of right. Plan a new route. Try a short trail run instead of a road run or vice versa. Incorporate all sorts of different runs like the aforementioned hills and fartleks. When it’s nice out and there’s no slush, every quarter mile I break up with 10-20 walking lunges and my soul dies a little. But I’m not bored.
Get a piece of gear.
A new shirt, something for your watch, maybe new shoes. New pants. It doesn’t have to be expensive or life altering, but getting some new gear can reinvigorate your passion. Make you excited to head out again.
Register for a race.
Whether or not you’ve raced before, registering for a race is exciting business. Try it out, have fun, motivate yourself. OR you can set an important goal for yourself without the finish of a race.
Look around you.
I run outdoors and I run without music so yes, I’m the epitome of crazy runner. But there are so many sights and sounds that are beautiful and interesting. Last summer, I was running at night and beneath a streetlight I got to see a bat diving into a swarm of moths coming out of the grass. If I had been grumbling or locked into a podcast, I would have missed it.
If you’re getting bored on your runs as someone who has run for awhile, you might not be working hard enough. Ramp it up a notch. Run faster. Run farther. Work on your form. Go harder.
Maybe it’s time to start working your willpower again.
I guess what I’m getting at is that running isn’t easy. Nothing is easy. Doing nothing is easy. But why do you want to do that? To sit and do nothing? To give up running or not even try it because “it’s boring”?
It’s hard. Not boring.
That’s the misconception. It’s mentally extremely hard. You have to fight for each step sometimes. You have to force yourself to tie your shoes and go pound pavement. To make it worse, your body is tired. It doesn’t want to do what you’re asking. But that’s fine. You have to do it.
So, no matter how long you’ve run keep in mind that running has a massive mental aspect to it. It does get easier but only because you continue to work it. The moment you stagnant, don’t work harder, or fall out of a rhythm it’ll get tough again. Happy running!