Beating The Training Blues

Four surefire tips to escape your training rut

Posted: 30 July 2002
by Doug Rennie

“After years and years of running, the act of putting one foot in front of the other, mile after mile, gets pretty damn boring,” Australian marathoner Derek Clayton once observed.

At some point, nearly all of us have run in Clayton’s shoes. As anyone who has been running for years will tell you, there are times when going out for a run can be as appealing as a two-hour stint in the dentist’s chair.

Come on, admit it. The running life can become one of unabated drudgery if you allow yourself to fall into a deadly-dull routine, mindlessly covering the same routine in every session.

Here then are four tips to put the zest back into your running.

1. Run for time, not miles
Stop worrying about miles. Mileage mania ties you to a few routes that you run over and over again, simply because you know how far you are running and it makes it easier to record it in your log. So punch your watch as you head out of the door and just go wherever your impulses dictate.

Experiment. Try something new each day, even if it’s only a few twists and turns to make the route different. People who run solely by miles tend to cover the same courses over and over, and become stale.

2. Get back to nature
If you don’t do it already, it’s time to mix off-road forays into your regular road routines, even if it means driving out into the country. Do it at least once a week, and run for time only.

Many of us work in offices, surrounded by glass and concrete, chattering machines and harried people. But you don’t have to run enclosed by all the same trappings of modern life. Lose yourself in nature and run for the sheer joy of it.

3. Use the whole day
If you usually run after work, then once a week run early in the morning or at lunchtime. Admittedly, setting up a regular time and place is efficient, and probably as essential as any single factor in keeping you running. It means you don't have to think about it or make plans. You just run every day at six o'clock or whenever; it's a regular as trudging to the bathroom every morning.

Don't change your basic routine. But occasionally – once a week, a few times a month, whenever – run at the opposite end of the day’s cycle.

Research shows that physical performance tends to peak in the late afternoon or evening. Running in the evening is more likely to leave you with the feeling that running really is working.

On the other hand, runners who run in the morning tend to miss fewer sessions, because reasons not to run accumulate as the day goes on. Morning runners tend to feel more satisfied as a consequence.

4. Give the training log a rest
As long as you are compulsively logging every mile, you’ll have difficulty taking advantage of different options. The mere thought or recording ‘DNR’ or ‘rest day’ in your log is likely to elevate your stress levels to eye-popping levels. For a while, just run. You will stay as fit, and be less a prisoner of your running.

There are plenty of coaches around who will tell you that four days of training a week is adequate for racing fitness – that is, if you do one long run and one set of intervals or hills.

If you want to stick with your diary, record how you felt instead of how much you did. Running, ideally, is something you do with your head as well as with your legs.

None of this should be taken as evidence of weakness, betrayal or lack of commitment. You are still a runner. It's still a major part of your identity.

Taking the occasional break, or trying something new, will simply help to keep it that way.

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motivation, rut

Discuss this article

I've been running (plodding) for two months now and at times I find it really hard to start a run let alone keep going, because I'm tired or something is still aching.

I'm training for the RFL which I've walked for the past few years, but this year I promised to run it in memory of a family member.

I realise everyone must go through this sometimes and struggle to keep going, so, I would like to know other peoples inspirations and motivations.
Posted: 06/04/2003 at 20:59

I have been running for nearly a year (on and off) and found it hard in the beginning as i do now - i have found my own pace which would not be called "running" by anyone but simply jogging and i find i can keep going longer and not get too tired too early - don't go off too fast as it ruins my runs when i do.

I too am trining for RFL and made the "choice" to run a 10k (first one ) in 6 weeks - i am hopelessly behind my schedule and i will be toiling to get around the 10k least it will make the RFL feel of luck!!
Posted: 06/04/2003 at 21:11

Hi Pud, I agree with EP, putting in for a couple of races gives you something to aim for, and it makes you feel great when you finish!! Especially when you wear the T shirt again, or look at the medal. Good luck, and hope it all goes ok. Enjoy it!
Posted: 06/04/2003 at 22:37

But I found the thought of racing utterly demoralising and hated committing myself to anything. This is usual for me, though.

If you're tired or aching, perhaps you shouldn't actually be running just then! Have a nap for an hour and run later, or give yourself enough time to recover between runs?
Posted: 06/04/2003 at 23:25

Pud - not sure about inspirations, but my mental state probably needs to be checked!!

Are you doing the run/walk schedule? just take it slowly, and don't worry if you need walking breaks, take it steady & gradually increase your run time & you will make it! Good Luck
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 00:00

Hi Pud

I looked in the mirror last May and did not like what looked back, a 13.5 stone chubby lump. I decided to do something about it and vowed to get back into shape. I had a photo taken in swimming trunks as I was then.

Firstly I changed my diet and cut out all the rubbish, fast food, chocolate, biscuits etc and ate wholemeal foods lots of fruit and veg and by August I had lost about 1.5 stone without doing any exercise but had hit a plateau as far as weight loss was concerned.

It was then that I decided to take some form of exercise and the easiest form was running. Off I went every morning before work for about 3 miles in 45 minutes. By christmas I was down to 10 stone 6lbs. I was still eating healthy foods, had gone from a 36" waist in May to a 30" waist, never felt stuffed after a meal and had much more enegry.

Kept the running going over Christmas and up to today. I now run around 25 to 27 miles per week. I am still around 10st 6lbs but I want to maintain this weight. I have also bought a bike and some weights and bike to/from work (20 mile round trip) and do weight training 2 or 3 times per week. Today I am happier with the reflection in the mirror and with my over all health.

Whenever I don't feel like doing one of my scheduled runs and I have no injuries I look at the photo from last May and remember how I use to feel, stuffed after every meal, brethless after a short brisk walk or short run. This gives me the motivation I need to get out the door and I have never come back from a run feeling worse than before I went.

Sorry this has been a bit long.

Keep motivated


Posted: 07/04/2003 at 09:29

Top man Michael!

I was in a similar boat about four years ago. After graduating, I spent 18 months spending what I thought was a king's ransom of a salary on eating out and going out on the booze four nights a week. My weight had gone from an even 11 stone to a shade over 13 in that time, but I refused to see anything wrong.

It wasn't till I went home at Christmas and I was out with my twin brother and had to face a thousand people saying 'Christ, you've put on weight!' that I realised the time had come.

Being a lazy sod at heart, I found out that running was the most time efficient way of shifting weight so I took myself to the gym and started running. Within about four months, i was down to a comfortable 11.5 stone and have kept running, getting faster all the way.

Wouldn't give it up for anything, especially as I got injured last year and know how much I miss it when its not there. I suppose I'm glad I can ran and thankful for how it makes me feel.

If you're having trouble getting motivated to go for a run, go for a run to remind you of how good it makes you feel, both whilst running and the afterglow once you're done!

the bat
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 10:04

The weight loss to date, the fact that i can actually run (or plod) this year as opposed to last year, the fact that I'm still alive and able to run, those thoughts keep me going.
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 10:57

Hi Pud
One of the things that keeps me going is having someone to run with. I started running (okay, probably more like a slow plod!) three weeks ago & I couldn't do it without a friend who comes with me.
Even with a training partner, I still find it hard to keep going sometimes when I'm out there - I am overweight (hence one of my reasons for starting to run) and I feel really self conscious sometimes - at first I only wanted to run after it got dark, but with summer time (and being in Scotland) this would mean waiting until really late to go out, so I don't have a choice now.
I am also training for RFL & think it's a great motivator - I also want to do a 10km in Sept to keep the momentum going.
What I find is, no matter how I feel during the run, I feel great afterwards & that's what I try to concentrate on while I'm out there.
Sorry to make it such a long one!
Good luck with your RFL training!
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 15:09

I used to run with a friend, but she moved away and I now run alone, and it is more difficult to keep going when there is a temptation to stop and walk or have a rest. Mr Nessie has come out with me a few times on his mountain bike, and I find that I am less likely to stop if he is behind me on the bike, because I don't want to appear lazy. So now if I'm out on my own, if I feel like stopping, I imagine he is there on the bike, and I keep going.

Getting out the door is another matter. Sometimes I feel really tired when I get home from work and really can't be bothered. If it is a night I have scheduled for a run, I will put on my running kit, with a fleece on top if it's cold, and head out for a short walk. Once I am moving, I invariably break into a jog/run which often isn't as far as I'd originally planned, but sometimes is longer.
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 15:55

Targets, targets, targets.

I always need something to aim for. I started running about 4 weeks ago, but in very old shoes. Hence, I now have shin splints and find myself forcing myself not to run.

I'm aching to get back to it, but concious not to push too hard. Also I have new running shoes, so theres a motivator (a) to use them and (b) to make them worth the money.

4 weeks ago, I had a target. The chance to win a place on a Specialist Training Day run by the TA, so off I went training. They just had one and don't plan an immediate other. Ho hum....interest waining...

Then I gets RW though the letterbox and what's this? 0-5K in Six Weeks? For beginners? That'll be me then. New Target and a structured plan to boot. Off we go then.

After this? Join a club? Do a race? (ooh scary)
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 20:10

Oh God, I'm rambling...
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 20:11

No youre not
Just on that journey
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 20:11

Aren't forums great? And websites?

This one (RW) is just brilliant. And then there's (Shropshire Group Leader) and their forum. And UK Diving and their forums. And search engines and surfing...and on and on and on.

I could spend ALL DAY on THAT journey and most of the day on the RW forum (like today when I should've been working)'d never know to speak to me, quiet as a mouse me....

Sorry Pud, I'm hijacking your thread somewhat. I'll have to go off and do some circuit training shortly, too late to run intervals now, I can't see my watch in the dark.

Ooh Pud, I know what else I was gonna say: have a look at for a training partner. Then you can motivate each other and it's so much better than running alone......just need a few more beginners to join in Telford now!!

Posted: 07/04/2003 at 20:31

Oh dear
Youre sort of near me

Doing the poteries????
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 20:52

Oh my god, what a response, thank you all soooooooo much for all your ideas and inspirations, please keep them coming.

I have joined a beginners running club,nothing too heavy but good fun, they meet once a week but I can't persuade anyone to run more than once a week at the moment.
I have tried, but there is no one in my area, so, I'm going to bite the bullet and put an ad in my gym...

Oh if anyone's interested, your inspiration totally inspired me and I managed my first 3.5 mile tonight (virtually non stop plodding) with the beginners r/club, (hills included and we make 'em steep here in Wales). So I ache,but I feel bloody wonderful. RFL - BRING IT ON!!!
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 20:54

Well DONE pud
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 21:00

Poteries Hippo? Not a chance...well, not yet anyway.

I'm about to start the RW 0-5K in Six Weeks (targets, targets, targets), so we'll have to see where I am at the end of that.

Nice one Pud - I emailed a local club, got good advice, acted on it, got a foot analysis and some nice new shoes and I'm gonna go and join the club when my girlfriend finishes college.

Now then....I have to go and circuit train and clean the washing machine.
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 21:08

One day
and you have a nice half too
i walk most of mine, being a fat hippo
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 21:22

Oh Hippo you sound sooo sad! How's the job going? Keep swigging the gin.

Pud congratulations to you, the aching is good!
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 22:28

The thing that keeps me going.............

Signed up on the RFL website last year, and back in Feb/March, I got an email telling me the website was up and running for entries. In the same week my Father in law was diagnosed with cancer. All the tests and stuff he's had to go through, all the indignities, and today the huge operation to remove the tumourfollowed by the weeks of radiotherapy and the colostomy bag.

When I feel like wimping out of a run, I remember what he's going through, without any choice, and that's what makes me think I'm a whingeing git, and I usually end up going for my run.
Posted: 07/04/2003 at 22:29

The fact that I've actually entered R4L and people are expecting me to come up with the goods in return for their money is motivating me. Plus when I can feel my muscles aching a bit I know I've worked them so they must be responding and therefore tightening!!
Posted: 08/04/2003 at 10:55

I often find that I can't be bothered to do a long run so I tell myself that I'll just do a short one. When I'm out there I start thinking that it wasn't so bad so I run for a bit longer. Last night I ran for 7 miles when I only told myself I'd settle for 4 miles.
Posted: 09/04/2003 at 08:37

If you have a race or something to work towards it's usually easier to motivate yourself. if you don't want to race or don't think your ready to race yet then maybe you could join a club. That's what i did, and im neva short of motivation or friends to keep me going now :) hope i helped :)
Posted: 02/10/2003 at 20:23

Im still sad

must change jobs

and another marathon is looming

what keeps me going?

Posted: 02/10/2003 at 20:42

Motivation: Hating my old self.

At xmas 2000 I weighed myself and was horrified to discover I had crept up to 16st5lb (I'm 5'9"). I was even more horrified to discover that my 6'3" body building brother was almost 2st lighter than me.

So on New Years day 2001 I started running. After a year I had lost almost 6 stone and found something that I really enjoyed doing. (I also stopped eating chocolate hobnobs too).

Two year on, I now run between 40-50 miles per week and lift weights on alternate days. I've gained a little bit of weight since my lightest - now I float around 11st - and have no desire to go back to my old inactive self.

Posted: 03/10/2003 at 08:56

Glad to see that so many others started running for same reason, i.e horrified at gaining weight. I started running 18 months ago after a seeing a photo of myself in swimming trunks, went from 97kg to 72Kg have now settled down at 75kg, run 60 miles a week and have so much more energy. Have now run three marathons, NYC will be four......... 18 months ago I couldn't have run 1 mile. No way am I going back to my old ways, the photo in swimming trunks remains firmly attached to the fridge door!
Posted: 03/10/2003 at 09:13

Wow, I'd forgotten about starting this thread. When I wrote it I had no idea that after 6 months (2 of which I spent recovering from my own stupidity) I would still be running,( I now say that with pride because I realised a dream). I have run a race, I have sustained an injury, attempting to run further and faster, in essence running before I had the hang of walk/running, I've had to start again with my training, but I still want to do it.

I have a regular running partner, who encourages me every step of the way, she also has the patience of a saint.

I've also discovered through this thread that running is a very personnal thing that you should share with others, I am grateful and constantly inspired by everyone who has shared their own personal thoughts and reasons as part thread so far.

Keep the inspiration coming

Posted: 06/10/2003 at 21:13

Things that keep me going include

I was over 18stone (lost 4)

And i was the worst person at sport at school

I'm now training for an Ironman
Posted: 06/10/2003 at 21:15

This forum keeps me going

Knowing if i give up now i know in 6 months time i'll take up running again!!! and i'll have to start from scratch yet again.
Posted: 06/10/2003 at 21:53

and it wouldnt matter if you did have to start again
Posted: 06/10/2003 at 21:54

I'm 35, a british hindu asian and until recently have been overweight all of my life mainly due to the lifestyle and all the lovely rich gujrati food. Many of my relations suffer from heart disease, diabetes and other effects due to weight ie bad backs, leg-joint problems and extremely bad bhangra dancing which is more akin to Disney's Phantasia cartoon involving hippos etc etc.

What keeps me going is knowing that I'm doing all I can to make sure I can make the most of my life with my wife and kids.


Posted: 06/10/2003 at 22:51

Hello Everyone, I hope you don't mind if I join in??

liked this quote from BatFink

"If you're having trouble getting motivated to go for a run, go for a run to remind you of how good it makes you feel, both whilst running and the afterglow once you're done!"

I sometimes really struggle to go out when I know it is a "running day", part of me desperately wants to go, because I know it is really doing me good and part of me just gets really scared - of what? I don't know!

Any tips? It's a mind thing surely??

Posted: 26/04/2005 at 21:35

Kitanda - hope your FIL is still fighting the good fight. I lost my own mum to bowel cancer (she had breast cancer some 24 years before - so remission IS possible). It's a horrifying disease, and is hard to witness a loved one suffer. Be strong and never be afraid to hold his hand or dry his tears.

What got me running.. was being 16st 7lb.. at 5 ft 3inches.. And trying to run for a bus... need i say more...

I am now 2 stone lighter (well just over 2 stone actually) and run 5k's ever so slowly.. but i still do it. :D I am sure my times will improve as I get lighter. But see results in such things as having lost 4 inches off ONE thigh. :D
Collins - as for getting out there.. have you tried laying out your clothes / shoes the night before, and running first thing in the morning? I did this when I first started and was 'shy' of running in public. It worked a treat, as soon as I got up, i'd dress in my 'gear' and be off as soon as I'd had a glass of water.
I also 'diary' my runs onto my family calender, as it's important to me, but we live a busy life. That way when I say.. i want to fit a run in, there is room in the day for it. :D

Good luck all! Keep up the great work.. you're an inspiration to the likes of me!

Posted: 26/04/2005 at 22:35

Hi Folks

Well I just managed to get out there and put one foot in front of the other. I managed 6.2k. It felt really tough going and then when I checked my watch when I got home, I had shaved a minute off my usual time for that route. Strange eh?
I think Purple Hugs is a great inspiration. To be so determined and to get such a great result is fab. I am also planning to read Jane Tomlinson's book, as I think if she can get out and run with what she was going through, what kind of excuse have I got - NONE!

When I ever do a run, I am going to do it for the Arthritis Research Charity. My niece has arthritis in both knees and has been told she will need them both replaced in 10 years time. She is a single mum to a 5yr old. The arthritis charity's slogan is "Run for those who can't" and it is great inspiration.

I need to make my runs a priority within my life and get my family's support. Instinctively, other things get put first, but my own health and wellbeing are important too.

Keep going everyone. Whatever we do, at least we are able to do it!!!
Posted: 27/04/2005 at 11:59

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