Sunday, September 5, 2010

Running Gotten Boring? Then Try the Mystery Veggie Approach!

When my 14-year-old daughter was two, we lived in an older house in Durham, NC. It had a big open kitchen (the old-fashioned type) with tall cabinets that went all the way to the ceiling. There was no pantry area, so we used one set of the bottom cabinets for all the canned and dry goods.

My daughter loved crawling in that cabinet and playing with the cans. We tried every type of baby-proof lock on the market, and none were a match to my daughter's cabinet-opening skills. So, we finally gave up. There were only cans and boxes in the cabinet, so we figured there wasn't much of a danger to her. The only problem was that she loved pulling the labels off all the cans.

Each night for dinner, my wife and I would laugh because we never knew what vegetable we were having for dinner. We called it the "mystery veggie." Wasn't a problem until the night we had beanie-weenies for dinner and what did we open for the veggie? Yep, a small can of pork-n-beans. Can you feel the bloat? And then there was the time that she opened a 5lb tub of peanut butter and finger painted all over the kitchen floor, but that's another story.

Those mystery cans of veggies remind me a lot of running. Each run is a new adventure, a new experience. Some runs are like opening a can of green beans, familiar and not all that exciting. But every now and then you'll open a can that's not a veggie at all, maybe it's Spaghettio's! Those are great runs. And then there's always that can of Brussels sprouts that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. You just never know what a run will offer.

Even if you run the same route each day, each run can be completely different. Sometimes the difference is as abrupt as a smack in the face, like the time a Ford F150 pickup truck almost creamed me on a run. Other times the difference may be subtle like seeing the doe and her fawn standing at the edge of some woods I pass each day.

A run can be mentally therapeutic. It allows you time to get completely lost in thought. You may not even realize you've run 5 miles until you're finished. Those can be great runs. Not only did your body get a workout, but your brain did too.

Other times, your mind is completely void of thought. Your senses are alive and you're simply taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells of your surroundings. That's usually when you discover all the little things you've never noticed before.

Then there's the intensity factor. That same 5-miler can be a slow easy run or a fast intense run. Maybe it's an easy recovery run after the hard hill workout you had the previous day. Or maybe it's a fast tempo run for your weekly speedwork.

The phrase "I'm bored" is not allowed in our house. Why? Well, we tell out kids that they're too creative and intelligent to ever be board. They can read, play outside, do an art project (Lord help us), or watch a favorite video they haven't seen in a while. Running's the same way. You're in control. If it's gotten boring for you, then do something about it.
  • Vary your running routes.
  • Vary the intensities of your runs.
  • Find a running buddy or join a running group.
  • Set goals for yourself such as running a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or full marathon.
  • Train for a triathlon.
  • Set a mileage goal like running 1,000 miles in a year.
  • Run for a cause.
The ways in which you can spice-up your run each day are endless.


Anonymous said...

Right on. Great post.

Kenley said...

When I am not training for any races. Once a week, normally on my easy day, I have an old coffee can and I take pieces of paper and put on them what I can do that day. One might say, go for an hour long hike on the AT. or ......go run 4 miles. etc... I look forward to that can. I have about 35 different workouts or fun activities in there. A little off the path, but I always look forward to it. I call it my box of chocolates, cuz I never know what im gonna get that day, but it keeps me motivated and unbored through out the week. Take care runner dude.

Caratunk Girl said...

Yeah, great post for sure. People always are asking me if I get bored training, and I am always like...well no. If I get sick of one route, I pick another. Or I see how far I can get in a given time...or see how fast I can get from point A to B...or do intervals. Or...

Unknown said...

I have a list of routes that I tend to stick with but add variety in how I run them. Otherwise, I'd be bored silly. That's why I'm not a fan of the TM.

Lauren said...

Amen! : )

Lauren Slayton said...

Your post couldn't have come at a better time. I'm training for Chicago and...bored. And I don't let my kids say bored either. I tried an audiobook for a 20-miler and liked it. I am taking the same approach I take with my kids, I'm bored but that's ok I still have to do it.

RunnerDude said...

Thanks Lauren! Best of luck with Chicago!

Tom Wade said...

Well said!

Thanks for the great articles!