Running events have taken a little backseat for a while. With the hopes of all the postponed races going ahead in the Autumn, we now need to try and motivate ourselves to get moving and continue with some sort of training. If you’re housebound, you’re probably finding that you’re not getting in as many steps as you normally would be. Even if you can go out, it’s unlikely that you’ll be raking up much more than you would normally, especially if you’re sticking to Government advise of about an hours walk. To make this time a little more fun I’ve got 12 ideas to add a little bit of excitement to your run. Most of these can be done both on a treadmill at home, or with a run outside. Whichever you choose just make sure it’s right for the place you are!
The first of these is should be done with caution, and that’s to challenge your previous personal best. Obviously if you’re not at the right fitness level to do that, this would not be a good one to choose. So be sensible. If you regularly run your 5km route in 25 minutes, try and shave off a few sessions over the next few weeks. It would give you a challenge and something to be training for. But again, if this all out effort would put your health at risk, don’t do it. One reason why we’re being told to stay at home is to lift burden off of health services from those who fall over/hurt themselves outside, so don’t go too far into the red zone if you take on this challenge.
Secondly, take on one of the many virtual races. Lots and lots of running events companies, understandably are still trying to make money through this period. One way many are doing this is by putting on virtual races in order for people to claim some of their old medals. These are, mostly, reasonably priced as there isn’t that much admin involved and some are also donating a part of the proceeds to a charity that needs additional funding at the moment. Here’s a few of the local event companies around me that are doing this; DB Max, Aspire Running Events, and Relish Running Events. All of these are of varying prices, all have a 10km and 5km option, and many give you a chance to win some vintage medals. I’m sure there are loads more companies out there doing a similar thing at the moment so hop on over to their websites or Facebook pages to find out.
So now onto option 3, this is where the run really starts to change, go out a see how many of x you could find, or aim to get to a geocache site. Geocaching itself may not be the best activity at the moment with COVID-19 being spread through surfaces, but that doesn’t stop you from running over to where one should be. Alternatively you can choose a landmark, maybe old well sites, bridges, or churches (be inventive here!) and see how many you can fit into a set distance. They don’t even have to be that creative, maybe it’s just how many different street names you can find that start with the same letter as your name. Just switching up your runs focus to be something other than running can make it that little bit more exciting.
Additionally, idea 4 is to do a landmark alphabet. Each run aim to get two landmarks for two letters and just keep going down the alphabet like that. So A could be Abbey and B could be bricks. Anything goes in this little mini challenge. Take pictures of each A-Z and just attach to your activity if you wanted. Maybe get some friends involved and see what they come up with as well.
Fun run 5, is just to run to your favourite local place. This could be the pub, a certain shop, or a green space. They may not be open right now but you could still go ahead and enjoy the run over. You may then hate the way back but at least you know in the future you could run there too!
Number 6 is an amalgamation of all the above. This is just to try a new route. Maybe there’s a hill local to you you’ve been meaning to scout out, perhaps there’s a trail around the corner you’ve never run on. Go ahead and give it a try. If you are doing this, be sure to take a GPS device/phone/map depending on how far out you’re going, so if you do get a little lost or the route doesn’t quite go to plan you have a backup as to how to get home. This can also be done if you’re a treadmill runner! If you’re hooked up to virtual running apps go ahead and choose a route you wouldn’t normally. I find I’m always choosing a route that links up when I use Zwift, which doesn’t really make sense. I think I’m just used to running in a loop normally so prefer how the map looks at the end. Strange. But go ahead and click a new route, you never know what you might find.
When planning a new route, you could also give this to a friend, and get them to do one for you. We tend to plan routes the same way, sticking to paths we know even when the route as a whole is new. Perhaps a friend knows some different paths and pavements that are great to run on. Let them know though if you’re a friend of incline first though, if not you may find after the 3rd big climb you don’t like them as much. Additionally it has the benefit of the run becoming more social as you can chat to your friend about the route, perhaps about what you liked or didn’t like as well.
Change it up completely and get a household member out running with you. if they’ve never run before take the time to train them to run a certain distance. Be realistic in these goals though and also empathetic with their needs. But focusing on them getting stronger and better at running will give you some respite from hard training while also feeling like you’re making gains. You might get so into their training that when they finally reach their goal you’re as happy as you would have been had it been you.
Number 9 see us start the I-spy part of the fun activities, the first of these is counting the amount of other people you see on the route. The goal is to get as little a number as possible. Maybe to do this you need to try running at a different time or on a different route. Just have a little play around with it and see if you can get that elusive 0. Again this can also be done on virtual treadmill apps, this morning during a 7km run, I saw no other runners, admittedly I wasn’t counting how many cyclists passed me though! What other counting activities can you come up with for your run?
The next two almost come hand in hand, so I’ll pop them together. These are to try a new session out, and the session is to do the same session as a friend or runner you follow on a running app. Maybe you’ve never tried hill reps, a negative split, or a progression run, go out there and give it a go at a relaxed pace. Equally if a mate is always going on about their 3x6min efforts, why not try it yourself. If you’re looking for inspiration many runners pop their session itinerary into their Strava descriptions so when they look back they know what that run really was. Equally you can use it to identify something you want to try. Again you can choose ones you can do on the treadmill, if that’s available for you.
And finally, one that’s been getting a lot of media attention, and that’s to run the distance in your garden. Be warned though this is likely to be very repetitive. For balcony marathons to garden ultras it’s all going down at the moment. You mark up the distance in the space you have then work out how many laps that would mean you need to do. GPS will be a little bit funny if you’re space is small, so don’t rely on it for the distance. This is likely to be a one of thing, I can’t see you wanting to repeat the experience!
So there you have it, 12 ideas to put the fun back in to running, while most of the world is in lockdown. If you’ve any ideas comment down below and I’ll be sure to add them. Equally if you try any of these out I’d love to know how it goes!
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