A blog by runners. For runners.

Stuck in a running rut? Break out with these new ideas

How to bust out of a running rutOne thing I’ve learned about myself through my coached training plan is that I’m set in my ways. I’ll look at the prescribed workout for any given day, and immediately compare it to what I used to do through my favorite, tried-and-true training plan, the same one I followed for 90 percent of my other half marathon races. Thing is, I need to shake out of my old ways and try something new to see if it might help me get a big PR.

It can be temping to stick in the safety zone when it comes to training. I have pinpointed why I am, for example, too scared to go higher mileage. (IT band flare-ups and not enough time to fit in longer mid-week runs.) Sometimes our reasons are quite valid. If we know we get injured doing a certain type of workout, it likely is best to avoid it. However, if the reason you’re shying away from trying something new is mostly out of being stuck in a rut – you might want to reconsider.

Want to run beyond the 5K distance?
A lot of runners finish their first 3.1 mile race and feel amazing. When the afterglow fades, runners think: What’s next? I see too many beginning runners immediately jumping to the half marathon or even marathon distance without first considering the step-up approach. If you’re looking to bust out and try something new, don’t forget a 10K plan is also a valid choice. When increasing mileage, it’s good to ease in to avoid overuse injuries that might cause a lifetime of nuisance.

Feeling some major burnout? 
Try the FIRST marathon training program. The idea behind it is that quality trumps quantity. Make those three runs count and keep active otherwise with cross-training. I’m intrigued enough so whenever I do decide to run another marathon, I’m using this plan. (Fellow writer, Jen Matz, plans on following the plan later this year for the NYCM! Read more here.)

Want to take you running to the next level?
If you’ve been running for several years and have quite a few races of the same distance under your belt, consider popping up to the advanced plan. I’ve actually never trained on an advanced plan despite racing more than 15 half marathons – and it’s mostly because I always thought “advanced” means “fast” runner. For example, Hal Higdon offers challenging workouts in this 6-day a week advanced half marathon plan. It can seem intimidating, but just remember – you call the shots when it comes to pace, the workouts can be catered to any trotting speed.

Desperately need a new routine?
Consider training for a triathlon. The spring season is a great time to cash in on running fitness by adding biking and swimming to the mix. If your ultimate goal is a fall race – a season spent cross-training could actually take your running up a notch. I certainly have seen some major gains through adding mile-long swims and hours on the bike into my routine. And I’ve even been able to stay very active – lose weight and get PRs – through giving my running legs a bit of a rest. (More triathlon tips here and here.)

Have you tried any major shifts in your training? What have been the payoffs?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.

RELATED: 6 ways to break out of a running rut