Going on a run is one of the most efficient forms of cardio exercise and an incredibly rewarding way to maintain a low body fat percentage. Not only does it really get your heart pumping and get that blood flowing, but it is also a fantastic way to build endurance and get all that oxygen flowing to all parts of your body – especially the brain.
Running is also a fantastic way to relieve stress and release endorphins, which give you the feeling known as the “runner’s high”, a short-lasting, deeply euphoric state following intense exercise.
However, sometimes, over a period of time, having to go on a run can become more tedious than anything if you’re somebody that thrives on change and extra mental stimulation. One of the best parts about running is that it never has to get boring! Here are some ways you can add intensity of change up the routine of your run to make sure you’re always keeping things interesting and fun!
1. Trail Running
Change the route of your run ever so often, to give yourself something more interesting and exciting to look forward to. By running on a trail and having an uneven and not flat surface to run on, it will make the run far more unpredictable and fun. Nature offers its own unique little obstacles to spice up your workout. Besides beautiful scenery and a breath of fresh air never hurt anyone!
2. Build Endurance
Most runners will admit, that even if they don’t originally intend to, their goals usually end up changing drastically over time. Instead of running a set number of miles forever (you can if you want to though), challenge yourself. By giving yourself goals, not only will it help keep you interested and on your toes, the rewarding feeling of pride after having reached a goal is like no other!
If you start off your running journey by running for 15 minutes every day, after a week of doing only 15 minutes, change it and challenge yourself to do 20 minutes for the next week. Slowly building your endurance will not only make it more challenging and rewarding for you, and it will also help you physically notice the difference in your endurance and strength which will only help towards being even more motivating!
3. Record your distance
Another way to not only track your progress and make things more challenging is by recording your distance on your runs. If you not on a running track or like to change your routes often, a great way to help you get the most information about your run is by using an activity tracker.
An activity tracker is a great device that is very simple to wear (you simply wear it like a watch) and it tracks the distance of your runs (and your walks) as well as additional information such as heart rate, calories burnt, step counter and even a sleep tracker, to make sure you are fully aware of the toll all of your daily activities have on your body.
4. Increasing Intensity
This is another fantastic way to really push yourself during your runs and get the absolute most out of every single step. A great way to increase the intensity is to change the level of surface you’re running on. If you’ve only been running on a flat surface so far, to really give yourself a challenge and push yourself, try to find somewhere uphill to run. You’ll feel that burn quicker than you think and the harsher the burn the more calories being burnt off!
5. Add Weights
No, I am not suggesting you run with dumbbells in your hands (although if you think you’re up for it, go ahead). A great way to add additional weight and thus intensify your workout is by adding weights to your body. Because you’re running and your entire body is actively involved, it is best to use something that doesn’t require constant attention – like ankle weights
Ankle weights are a great way to just throw in that extra strength training and intensity without the risk of hurting yourself.
I would suggest avoiding things like weight belts, specifically during running as it is a cardio exercise at the end of the day which means it requires a lot of anaerobic respiration – and a lot of heavy breathing to make sure you are supplying your body with enough oxygen. So avoid anything that might alter or tamper with your breathing motions as it is essential that you be able to breathe comfortably during your runs.
6. Run with a pet!
This is a perfect way to have a refreshing run and spend some quality time bonding with your pet while getting your exercise together. Not only will your dog love this, but it is a certain way to change up your routine and get things more interesting.
If you don’t have a pet of your own that’s okay! As a neighbour or a friend that lives close by if you can take their dog on a run with you. You could even go to your local animal shelter and offer to take their dogs on a run!
A great tool to help you get the most out of your run with your furry friend is getting a hands-free leash. It’s a perfect way to make sure your dog stays close enough to you without having to hold onto a leash. It simply goes around your waist and acts as a training leash!
7. Run with a friend
If you can’t find a furry friend, your human ones will do just fine too! Ask a friend or a family member to join you on a run. You can have someone to help challenge and motivate you and it might be more interesting of a run if you and your running partner are teaching each other as you go.
8. Join a Running Group
Joining a running group is a perfect way for the extroverted runners out there to get the best of both worlds. By finding a group with people that share a specific interest with you, you’ll be able to socialize more and make new friends. You can also share your experiences and tips and it is a great way to motivate and challenge you. After all, the more the merrier.
9. Fartlek Training
Fartlek is a Swedish word for “Speed Play” and it basically entails adding in intervals of sprinting embedded within your usual run. So to put it simply, for certain distances/locations/times during your run, you sprint as fast as you can, and when that sprinting duration ends, you go back to your normal pace or walk until you regain your breath before continuing your normal run. By adding multiple of these intervals during your run it will certainly make for a much more interesting and challenging run and its a great way to really work your heart muscles.
10. Stair Running
Running up and downstairs is a great alternative for those that live in places that don’t have hills and trails etc. and want to add in a challenge. It is actually an incredible way to burn loads of calories really quickly. Not only are you actively working your entire body, but the up and down direction of your running adds an extra element of resistance and acts as strength training in return.
11. Gamify your Run
One great way to make your run more interesting is by adding interactive games. There are many different apps on the app store that such as Zombies, Run! that essentially creates the audio effects of being chased by a bunch of zombies. There are many variations of these interactive running games for you to pick from and it is a playful way to motivate you to make your run more challenging and enjoyable.
12. Podcasts & Music
If you’re somebody that gets bored of running due to the lack of mental stimulation, a great solution can be podcasts. By listening to your favourite podcast while you’re on your run, it’s a great way to engage your brain to make your workout seem less boring and tedious. Listening to music is also a great way to give your brain more stimuli to focus on during the run. The more your attention is elsewhere the less you’ll be focusing on all the cramps or little aches that might be annoying during the run.
If this seems annoying as you don’t really know what to do with your phone or listening device during your runs, a great solution would be an armband. You simply tie this thing around your arm with your phone attached and viola! All your worries about your phone falling out of your pocket or out of your waistband (because your phone doesn’t even fit in your pocket), all gone!
13. Treadmill Running
Most treadmills come with the option to change the resistance and intensity of your workout as well as the speed. This is a way to make sure you are pushing yourself and having numerical figures to help you track how much resistance you’re adding. Since treadmills are indoors, you will have a regulated temperature which will allow you to focus less on your external environment and more on your body and how it is responding to the intensity of your workouts. You can also monitor your heart rate, calories burnt and also track the distance that you have run for.
Want to know what other essentials to take with you on your next run? Read our article on 11 essentials you NEED to have if you run!
And that’s it! Feel free to mix and match multiple of the techniques to suit your needs and interests to get the absolute most out of all of your runs. Happy running!