Running: Bust out of a running rut

beautiful young woman running in park pathway
What can you do if you're bored with running? Turns out you have options.

It's been a long summer. Even though we've been blessed with cooler than normal temperatures, we haven't gotten a complete humidity reprieve. It's easy to fall into a running rut, especially if you're putting in marathon training miles with the race still months away, or you're just tired of sweating so much.

What can you do if you're bored with running? A few things:

1. Sign up for a race. If you're running without a goal, you have less motivation to get out the door. I have a hard time forcing myself to run more than a mile or two if I'm not following a schedule to prepare for a race. This area is packed with races this fall, and there's still enough time to sign up for a 5K, 10K, or even a half-marathon.

2. Switch up your soundtrack. Listening to the same running mix over and over again? Change things up in your mix - or, if you run with a smartphone, try a playlist on Spotify (it has dozens of mixes in its "workout" section) or create a channel on Pandora. When I started training for marathons, where I'd be out on the road for one, two, three hours at a time, I downloaded podcasts to bring with me. I'd get caught up in learning something new, and the focus would shift off the miles. I'd also listen to whole albums instead of a fast-paced mix on shuffle. Or you can do what I do most of the time: go headphone-free. Some quiet time while running can be meditative and restorative. (Also, if you do run with headphones, keep the volume low enough that you can hear yourself talk over whatever you're listening to.)

3. Run with friends. Running alone all the time can be boring, so find someone to go with you - whether that's joining a group run put on by your local running store or Road Runners Club of America, or having a family member bike beside you as you run along. Bonus if you can tag along with a faster friend who is running an easy day. He or she will pull you at a slightly faster pace for a more challenging workout.

4. Move your route. There's comfort in stepping out your front door and running a familiar path, but you can get yourself into a rut that way, too. So switch things up. You can drive to another town and start and end you run there; try running on a trail; run through a place where you used to live; or even run your regular route in reverse. When I did that, I realized a house I pass often has a very lovely and intricate treehouse in its backyard. I'd never been able to see it from my typical point of view.

5. Leave your watch at home. Or your mobile phone with its GPS tracker. Running without all of that constant feedback allows you to focus on other things, like your form or nagging injuries, or it can help you think back to why you started running in the first place, when it was less about logging miles and more about getting out there to do something different. It could be the thing you need to remind you why you're running now - and why you'll keep going.