QT: Regular Route Getting Stale? Some Tips to Help Keep It Fresh
No matter how much we love the sport of running, it is possible that our running might get a little boring on occasion.
I mean, I know there are days when doing another handful of miles in my neighborhood just doesn’t sound that exciting.
And point blank, it’s not that exciting.
Most weeks, I’m doing a handful of miles in my neighborhood four times.
Now, my neighborhood isn’t small but it’s certainly not big enough that the monotony of the scenery doesn’t get to me on occasion.
Keep It Fresh
If you find yourself doing most of your miles on the same set of streets, finding ways to keep your running fresh is imperative.
And I’m not talking about some of the more common ways to keep running fun.
Because I’m coming at this post/qt episode from the perspective that you still enjoy running, you’re just a little bored of running the same exact mileage on the same exact streets day after day.
Below are four things I do on occasion, though honestly not enough, to try and keep my mid-week runs from getting too stale.
When I go for a run, I turn right coming out of my driveway roughly 90% of the time.
This right turn is so standard that Bailey just does it automatically every time we are running.
I don’t need to tell her to turn right. I don’t need to give her leash a little tug to get her pointed in the right direction.
She just knows. If dad is taking me for a run, we are going to turn right at the end of the driveway pretty much every single time.
But you know what happens when I turn left?
It’s like I’m running in a completely different neighborhood!
Even though I’m running the same streets and running past the same houses, because I’m running past them in reverse order it just seems different/fresh.
And, in a sense, it is.
When I turn right, my body/mind are simply in autopilot.
Everything is the same as it was the day before, so I just cruise along without any visual stimulation.
But when I turn left? Nothing is the “same.” Everything is “new.”
It’s weird, but turning left actually does work!
Create (and Name!) Different Routes
If your regular route is either a straight down and back or one big loop and there are no options for variety, then this suggestion may not help you much.
But if you’re like me and you typically run in a subdivision/neighborhood/whatever where there are a few different side streets and cul-de-sacs, then this tip might be a good one.
You know how I said up above that I turn right the vast majority of the time I come out of my driveway?
The struggle with being on autopilot is real, and it’s not just in effect when I’m just starting my run.
If I don’t have a planned route in mind from the beginning, I pretty much just make the same turns in the same order without even thinking about it.
Damn you autopilot!
Enter named routes/workouts.
Take a few minutes to map out in your head 3-5 different routes you can run in your neighborhood that will all be about the same distance.
Then, give each one a name.
Now, when you’re planning your runs instead of just putting down X miles on each of the days that you run mix in a few of the route variants by name.
These runs don’t have to be any different in terms of pace or effort. In fact, they should probably be the same ho-hum easy miles that you tend to do most of the time.
But by clearly defining a different route than the route that autopilot takes you down, it makes that day’s easy run a bit less monotonous.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that this is a pretty regular part of my daily run routine.
When I’m out for a run, I’m always looking for something “interesting” to post with the hashtag #seenonmyrun.
For whatever reason, toilets seem to be a common roadside fixture in my neighborhood these days…
Anyway, one sure way to prevent yourself from going into total autopilot is to constantly be scanning your surroundings for anything interesting that you can take a picture of.
Lawn ornaments. Flags. Bumper stickers. Nature.
Setting out on an easy run with a mission to just see what you can see is a great way to help the miles pass.
Same Scene, Different Time
It’s always amazing to me how much of a difference an hour makes.
When I’m out the door around 5:30, our neighborhood is pretty much still a ghost town.
Most people are still asleep. And the ones that aren’t are the same people I see on a near-daily basis walking their dogs or getting their workouts in as well.
If I don’t leave the house until 6:30? It’s like I’m running in a completely different place!
Honestly, I’d rather just get my runs in early when the neighborhood is still quiet.
But if you’re looking for a way to kick yourself out of autopilot and you have a little bit of flexibility to your routine, try running at a different time of day on occasion.
I can almost guarantee it’ll be a completely different experience than what you’re used to.
Mix It Up to Keep It Fun
If you’re the kind of runner that actually kind of likes being able to flip into autopilot for your easy runs and just get lost in thought, a good audiobook, your music, or whatever, then, by all means, keep on keeping on.
But if you start to find yourself getting bored of the same old same old, you might be surprised how easy it can be to go from boring/stale to fresh/new while still running in the same area.
Of course, there is always the option to get in the car and go to a different part of town to log your miles.
That’s what I tend to do for my long runs. But let’s be honest, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to drive somewhere to knock out a handful of easy miles.
By the time you factor in driving to/from, it could very well mean that you’ll spend more time in the car than you will spend actually doing your workout!
How Do You Help to Make Sure Your Regular Running Route Stays Fresh?
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I love the reference to the people you meet along the way… the guy with the dog he can’t control and the yipping dogs…. LOL I have met so many interesting people with dogs (I run with my dogs, so it is always a question that my dogs won’t appreciate their dogs..) and there is such a variation. My favorite is the women with 3 Yippy small fluffy dogs that go CRAZY when I run by. So funny!