During typical running workouts like intervals, hill reps, tempo and threshold runs, you need to follow very specific sequences. But with the easy runs, it’s only about keeping your heart rate low and miles up. And that can lead to boredom. Here is what I’m doing to pimp up my easy runs.
5 Ways to avoid boredom on long runs that are not listening to podcasts
1. Counting steps
I own a Microsoft Band which has a pedometer, but the step count per minute is not reported during runs. So I need to do it for myself. The gadget market for the running world has exploded in the last couple of years, so probably all the current devices report this data back in their dashboards (but mine doesn’t).
Even though you can glance at your smarter watch to see your current spm (steps per minute) value, assuming it supports this, by actually counting your steps you keep yourself engaged with this activity in such a way that you get to know yourself better. You will notice “how it feels at 180 spm” and what happens when you increase or decrease that number.
You don’t need to count your steps continuously, just once at 5 minutes or so. It’s your run, your call. Remember that an optimum number of steps per minute is between 180 and 200, regardless of your running speed/pace.
Nasal breathing, or rather just the inhaling half is my latest craze. I don’t have to tell you that nasal breathing is superior to breathing through your mouth. I’m sure you have surprised yourself with your jaw tensed because of mouth breathing. By inhaling through the nose, you reclaim your posture because your ribcage lifts more and your lungs get more air.
The nose will also filter out much of the inhaled air. When it’s too cold, air gets warmed up, and when it reaches the throat, it’s already at a higher temperature.
I had a recent throat inflammation because I breathe a lot through my mouth, so now I’m trying to improve my nasal breathing. As superior as nasal inhaling is, I think that it’s similarly important to exhale through your mouth. That’s because the air speed is a lot higher and your nose’s volume cannot handle that optimally.
Take it easy while doing this, if you aren’t already breathing through your nose when running, you will feel a bit suffocated, and it’s important to slow down as much as needed so that you can sustain a nose inhale/mouth exhale continuous cycle.
3. Correcting your posture
Be mindful of your posture. Set this goal for some of your runs and try to remind yourself to check your posture. After just a couple of runs or so, you’ll form a habit, and your brain will start sending signals to adjust your posture without noticing.
An important posture element is a straight back with just a slight lean forward. Another thing that should come naturally when you straighten your back is bringing your hips forward and your head straight, which means you should look forward and not down. You should concentrate on how your elbow swings backwards. Shoulders should be relaxed all the way, as should be your jaw, face and whatever muscle you don’t actively use in the motion process.
A more comprehensive explanation is in this blog post.
4. A sprint
For the final part of the running session, if I’m in a position to do so, I do a final push. Trying to run at a much higher speed after you already consumed a lot of energy will teach your body to cope with pushing during final stages of actual races. In turn, this will pump up your spirit, motivation and self-esteem.
5. Long strides
If I’m not in a mood or in the position to do a push, then another thing I’m trying even as a cool down from the high-intensity workouts is to run slow but with the longest possible stride. It’s like a workout but done while still running. Your muscles will be challenged differently, and that can only be good for your leg strength.
Whenever I spot a low brick fence, steps, or something to allow me jumping on, I do it. In Palmers Green, the local library has a small brick fence, so whenever my route passes through the area, I do 20 jumps. These explosive motions, again, will challenge your muscles in a very different way and that can only translate into greater leg strength. It doesn’t cost me any gym membership, only takes 1 minute of my running time, and the benefits of these jumps or any possible plyometric exercises are countless.
How do you pimp up your running sessions?