When we moved to Denver last year I knew it was going to take me a bit of time to get used to running at altitude. A mile above sea level – 5,280 feet higher than NYC – I struggled to catch my breath on many runs those first few months we lived here. And with a lack of oxygen, came a lack of motivation. When each run is a struggle, it can be hard to lace up.
This summer I was struggling a bit too. After I got used to running the path in the beautiful park near our new house, I started getting bored. But before I realized it was boredom, I was just cutting my runs short because I thought my legs were too tired, or I couldn’t breath. And sometimes it was that, but looking back I know I was just bored. I was in a rut.
Until this past Sunday when I got to the end of my 7 mile run and felt like I could easily go another few! That’s when it finally sank in that my runs were clicking again. I’m feeling better now than I have in a long time, and it feels great!
I know I can’t go all crazy though; I have to be careful about my mileage. When I’m running well I want to run long but I’ve learned that it’s not good for my body. If you’ve been reading along for a while, you likely know that I went through a stretch when I pretty much had one stress fracture after another. My last was October 2011 – almost 3 years ago! What changed is that I drastically reduced my mileage and haven’t run a race longer than a 10k, even though I’d love to run a half marathon.
Bird Camp last month was hugely motivating for me. It gave me that first taste of really feeling good on the run, and wanting to run as much as I could. There was a bit of a letdown right after, when I struggled (again) to get out there – partly because after running trails in Bend, Wash Park was boring, and because Woody was traveling for work and I have definitely grown to rely on my workout buddy.
Thankfully though, that’s behind me now and I’m back on track!
While I’ve been struggling, I’ve also been running some of my fastest times in years this summer – a 24:48 5K in July (although back near sea level), 26:09 in August (at Bird Camp) and 25:31 back at altitude this past Saturday. And when I felt great after 7 miles on Sunday, it was such a fantastic feeling to know that I could keep going (but I was smart and finished there).
After this weekend, I’m feeling pretty confident. So what else should we do but sign up for a 10K in October and a 4 mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving!
Here’s a rundown of 4 key strategies that have been working for me lately. I hope some of these tricks might help you out of a rut or just refresh your running a little:
And as always, having a goal, or some event to look forward to, is hugely important! Pick a race, make plans with a friend to try out an awesome trail you’ve heard of that’s a drive from home or explore a nearby city. Lots of people don’t run races, but there are still great ways to stay motivated, inspired and happy on the run!
Have you ever been stuck in a rut with your running? * How do you keep your runs exciting and fun? * What goals are you working towards?
Oh hey, my friend Grace was chosen to participate in the Asics Editors Challenge and will be running the TCS New York City Marathon for the 3rd time this November! Read about it here!