Running can be a transformative activity for many of us. It can certainly help us reach our fitness goals but it can also be limiting to our overall movement goals. But by rethinking our running habits we can maximize running’s benefits and minimize its shortcomings.
Running bestows a broad range of health and fitness benefits, but those benefits are limited when you run the same way every single day. For instance, if you always run on a path, at the same speed, listening to your MP3 player, at the same time of day, on the same slope, in the same shoes, for the same distance...well, you are robbing yourself of some of the benefits you could be getting from all that valuable movement time.
There are many variables that affect the benefits your run can give you, and we rarely take the time to think about it. So, to help you spice up your running efforts and make sure that you reap the full rewards from each run workout, here are some ways to make your run workout more challenging and beneficial.
10 Tips to Enhance Your Run
- Vary Your Terrain
- Run Somewhere New
- Run In a Group
- Stop and Smell the Freakin' Roses
- Wear Different Shoes
- Run Tech Free
- Try Multi-tasking
- Carry Something
- Vary Your Speed
- Run More Often
Let's explore each tip in more detail.
1. Vary Your Terrain
There are 33 joints in each of your feet and when you run over rocks, roots, slopes, dips, and bumps each one of those joints deforms your foot (in a good way). This deformation creates load in those parts of your foot and that loadbearing makes your feet and ankles stronger, more resilient and healthier in general. But if you always run on man-made surfaces, there is nothing there that will destabilize and mobilize these joints. So you are missing out on some real run benefits by limiting your terrain.
Whenever you can, add hills, slopes, and textures (dirt, gravel, sand) that will challenge your ankles, heels, and toes in ways that just don’t happen on flat, paved ground.
2. Run Somewhere New
Running in familiar territory can automatically change your responsiveness, both cognitively and physically, and can allow you to fall into a movement rut. Let's face it, mindless robotic running is not our goal.
Do anything that will help shake you out of being a dull running machine and into being an enthusiastic running human.
To minimize this issue, choose different routes, surroundings, directions, and distances. If you simply can’t mix it up, at least run that same route in a different direction so you get as many surprises as you can. Do anything you can that will help shake you out of being a dull running machine and into being an enthusiastic running human.
3. Run In a Group
Running with others can often force you out of your "comfortable pace" and that change of pace can result in working your body in different ways. Not only will running at different speeds widen your cardiovascular response to the workout, but it also engages different muscles, a different geometry of your limbs, and makes you a more well-rounded runner in general.
Running in a group also means being social and that can change your mood for the better. It’s easy to focus on how tired you are or how much you "want this run to be over" when you are alone, but when you are engaged in a conversation or some friendly competition, the time can really fly by.