I spend a lot of hours of my life running. When people find this out about me, some of the most common questions that I get asked are: “Don’t you ever get bored?”, “Don’t you ever get tired?” and “What do you think about the whole time?” The honest answers to those questions are yes, yes, and a LOT!
I have a very short attention span and I get bored really easily. I also have a hard time battling my inner monologue once I get tired and want to stop running. This can be a problem when you are training for long races and running for hours at a time! Here are some of the ways I have learned to beat boredom while running. These tips are great whether you are new to running or a more experienced runner.
Plan new routes. Map My Run is my best friend. It’s a website that pulls up an interactive map of whatever address you type in and allows you to plan your own routes for running, biking, or walking. I spend a lot of time on there because I get bored with my routes very quickly. Planning a new route is my #1 way to shake things up. It’s always nice to see new scenery and it keeps me motivated and interested.
Play games. There are so many fun games you can play with yourself or with your running buddy if you have one! Here are some of my favorites:
- A to Z – There are two ways to play this game. You can either choose a category (like favorite foods, places you would like to visit, types of cars, TV shows, movies, etc. – be creative!) and then think of one thing within that category for each letter of the alphabet, starting with A and going all the way to Z. The other way you can do it is to look for the letters of the alphabet while you are running, starting with A and going in order all the way to Z. You can find them on street signs, license plates, stores, anywhere!
- 20 Questions – Obviously you need a running buddy to play this game. Kevin and I like to take turns thinking of a person, place, object, etc. and then we have 20 questions (duh) to try to figure it out what it is! It’s actually a pretty hard game that makes the time fly by.
- Yellow Car – You can play this alone but it’s more fun with a friend that you can compete against. Basically you have to pay attention to the road and look for unmarked yellow vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, jetskis, etc.). For each one that you call out by saying “yellow car!” you get a point, but if you accidentally call one out that has writing on it (like a company vehicle or taxi) you lose a point. It’s fun and addicting!
- Running the USA has a great list of more running games!
Inject some speed. Who says speed work can only be done on the track? One of the best ways to make a run more exciting is to do a little informal speed work. My favorite ways are to look for a person walking in front of you, another runner, or even a car at a red light, and try to “catch them” by running fast for as long as it takes to catch up with them. You can also just pick a point in front of you, like a telephone pole or a street sign, and sprint to it. Once you reach that point you can run slowly for a few minutes to recover and bring your heart rate down, then repeat the process again whenever you feel like it. These short, informal bursts of speed without a set time or distance goal are called fartleks and they are really fun!
Make plans. I love planning things and I do a lot of planning on the run. Recently it’s been mostly wedding planning with Kevin when we’re running together (our wedding is less than 3 months away!). I also like to think about and plan the rest of my day and what I’m going to eat later (LOL). I also do lesson planning in my head sometimes during the school year. I come up with a lot of great ideas while I’m running! The hard part is remembering those ideas once I’m back at home 🙂
Role play. This one is kind of embarrassing, but sometimes when I’m running I like to pretend like I’m a character in a movie or a TV show. Sometimes in these scenarios I am running for my life or running to save the day. Or I’m an elite runner in a major marathon or the Olympics. Either way it makes me feel good!
Make an awesome playlist. I hardly ever listen to music while running anymore, but if I really need a boost I will plan an upbeat, motivating playlist to help carry me through the run. Music is a great way to get into running longer distances too, if you are newer to running. The right songs can make the miles fly by!
Break up the run. Sometimes thinking about how many miles you have to run can be overwhelming. For long runs, I like to break up the run into smaller parts. For example, if I am running 15 miles that day I will break it into 3 sections of 5 miles each, which seems much more manageable in my head. I try to begin each new section like it’s a brand new run which helps me stay positive and focused.
Count. If things start to go downhill and I’m hurting, or if I get a cramp in my side, I always start counting to 100 in my head. This helps take my mind off the pain. Once I get to 100 I start over. It usually only takes one or two of these cycles for me to push past the pain and get back to feeling better.
Visualize. This one is so important! On almost every run I practice visualizing myself running strong, hitting my goal paces and feeling great. It’s a great confidence builder and helps prepare me for race day. I truly believe that running is mostly mental and visualizing my success helps me so much.
I hope you will try out some of these ideas on your next run! Have fun with it and remember, running doesn’t have to be boring 🙂
Does anyone else have any good tips for how to beat boredom while running? I’d love to hear them!