6 ways to turn your running training on its head

Vamp up your training regime

Have you reached a plateau with your performances in training or your racing results have been a little disappointing recently? Are you starting to lose motivation? If this sounds familiar then check out these tips to beat the running blues.

Written by Louise Damen

Louise is a two-time England Cross Country Champion and a former European XC Trials winner. She has also represented GB at various international events and her marathon PB is 2:30:00.

Buddy up

Training on your own can sometimes be soul destroying, particularly during the dark, wet and cold winter months. You can find yourself struggling to get out of the door and counting down the minutes during a run. However, training with company can be a game-changer. Not only does it make tough sessions more enjoyable, the positive peer pressure can push you to hit splits that would be difficult to do solo. The running fraternity are generally a very friendly bunch so if you’re looking for some company, why not head down to your local running club?

Change your challenge

It’s not uncommon to experience a bit of a motivational slump from time to time, particularly after a successful race. Setting yourself a new challenge however will boost your motivation and will give your training a powerful sense of purpose. To keep things interesting why not target a new race distance or tackle a different terrain? If you want to give your mind and body a relative break then why not swap urban running for some off-road trails for example? You’ll strengthen your legs and core and can often enjoy some stunning scenery on the way. If you fancy doing a spot of off-road racing then there are trail races up and down the country year-round. Most running clubs are also affiliated to local cross country leagues during the winter months and many participate in local off-road summer races too.

Add some cross training to your weekly mix

The body and the mind respond well to a change in training stimuli so if you are struggling for motivation or seem to have hit a performance plateau then why not replace some runs with cross training workouts? Your cardiovascular system doesn’t know the difference between running and other forms of aerobic activity so as long as you elevate your heart rate you will maintain or even improve your aerobic fitness.

Vary your routes

Runners tend to be creatures of habit. More often than not we have a tendency to run the same routes, most probably due to a combination of routine and convenience. However varying your routes can be both mentally and physically stimulating, so why not break the monotony and try running somewhere different?  You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time flies by when running in new surroundings! Check out an OS map so that you can see footpaths, roads and trails that are local to you. You never know, you might be minutes away from some stunning running routes that you never knew existed!

Become a full time athlete for a day or the weekend

At times running can feel like a chore, particularly when you’re juggling training with everyday life. In order to reignite your passion for training why not try to dedicate some time solely to it? You could become a full-time athlete for a day or even a weekend if your other commitments allow. There are plenty of training weekends/holidays advertised in various running magazines, however you can just as effectively create your own. Arrange to meet with a group of running friends and enjoy some running, good food and quality relaxation. A little time given exclusively to training may well give you that extra spring in your stride when you return to your normal routine.

Variety is the spice of life!

Hitting a performance plateau can often be due to a lack of variety in your training programme. After several weeks your body will adapt to a training stimulus so in order to make further improvements in fitness you’ll need to change the stimulus. Essentially if you keep doing the same thing then you will keep getting the same results! Try incorporating something different into your weekly training mix, swap some standard intervals for some hill work or a fartlek for example.

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