Strange times we are living in. If you are like me you’ll have had all your races cancelled.

Some runners are choosing this time to rest, some are leaping head first into all sorts of challenges.

There are lots of people, who like me, are using this time to run to enjoy the one time we are allowed out the house, and to help keep a clear head in tough times. Its also helping me up my daily step count which seems to be to the fridge or to get another glass of wine!

The upsides are new routes have been discovered right on my doorstep. The downsides… well the motivation has drifted somewhat. And dare is say it…. Running the same routes daily for me can be a little bit *whispers* boring.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who are embracing your running – great! If you are lacking motivation, or want a bit more structure, here are my top 5 tips on keeping things fresh. The key is to vary things and mix it up.

  • Try a bit of fartlek. Yes I know sounds funny, but this can help turn the legs over and keep the mind busy when running. Fartlek is when you up your pace for short bursts. You could have a google for more structured examples, or keep in simple, sprinting for the distance of a few lamposts or tree to tree. Then you jog or reduce pace after. Try for a set number in your run. (eg 8 sprints moving up to 12) Or set up a Strava segment on a route you frequently run down. Hit it once a week for a bit of a challenge
  • How about a session? Not strictly track so 400m might be a bit of a faff to measure out..but you can work in time. Eg warm up, 90 seconds of hard running, 90 seconds off, then go again. Again a quick google will come up with suggestions and you can pick one to suit your ability and adapt it. Another simple way to add a bit of spice is to run to music. Run faster for one song, slow for one
  • Slow it right down. If you are going to put some of those punchier runs in, having a lovely recovery run day will be good on the legs. Take is slow. Like very slow. These recovery runs will help you push the pace a bit next session!
  • Discover more. Not fussed about pace? Many of my runs have been just enjoying the movement and being outside. How about heading down a new route. If you are lucky enough to live near trails, go up one..all trails lead to somewhere! I use OS maps app. It’s does come with a price tag, but I’ve used it nearly daily, setting routes and mapping out new ones. I’m never lost without it! Take your phone with just in case you end up somewhere not so familiar
  • Phone a friend. I didn’t realise how much I would miss my running friends. Not only was it nice to see them. They helped motivate me to get out the door on time to meet them (Lockdown running recently took me over 3 hours to motivate myself just to put my socks on for a run!) I did a virtual bike ride on the phone to my friend the whole time, and it was great just chatting and cycling along, literally going nowhere. How about hooking up with your friends on a call running too! Or make a deal to do a similar session and call before, during or after to stay in touch and motivate each other.

Being a runner during these times is tricky. As long as you are observing social distance and not meeting up to run.. don’t feel bad about enjoying your time outside. Also, don’t worry if you really are not feeling it. Really REALLY don’t feel like running? Don’t go. One recent run I just stopped after a few miles as I couldn’t be bothered. Still enjoyed the walk home and the run. Two days later I pushed myself a bit on a run and felt really good after. I never regret a run. No matter how short.

Be kind to yourself and see you on the other side!

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