Motivation Monday – Six Things to Try to Shake the Late Spring Blahs

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First off, Happy Memorial Day – and while for most of us it is an excuse for a long weekend, and perhaps watching our kids march in a parade (or in my case, one kid march while the other is home with a broken foot) … it is worth remembering that the heroes who have put their lives on the line for us and our country are the true reason for this day. Take a moment this day to remember them and their service.

It is interesting – just a couple of months ago many of us were lamenting a long, grueling winter and wishing for the joys of real spring weather to get out and run. Yet these past couple of weeks, I have seen more people talking about being burned out or just not knowing what to do.

As we get to the end of May, the first ‘season’ of races is coming to a close, and folks who have been training all winter for their first marathon are suddenly faced with great weather but a lack of direction. Or like me, they might have spent all winter single-minded (for me, it was getting in the runs, but for others it was treadmill work or whatever).

Whatever the reason, I have seen lots of people who have seemed lost … and this week I have fully embraced spring by mixing things up myself, so here are just a few things to do to try to keep running fresh as we get used to this great weather:

1. Find Another Race

This weekend I didn’t run a race, choosing family time as I always do – but definitely felt a twinge over missing the Glassfest 8K on Saturday (which I for some reason thought was Sunday). But anyway, this weekend I had local friends run in no less than a half-dozen races within 30 minutes of my house!

Right now there are loads of races – so if you feel the let-down, get back out and do another race. If you have been training for a goal race, now just do some fun runs – grab friends, and just enjoy!

2. Try Doing ‘Fartleks’

These have always been one of my favorite things to do since I learned about them a couple of years ago. Basically they are ‘speed play’ – you are doing what all kids do “race you to the light post”, or whatever.

I have a few areas I tend to do these – just turn on the speed for a defined distance, really push it. It is an adrenaline rush, but because you are focusing on speed, it can help you push things if you are looking to get faster as well. Thing is – this shouldn’t be your only speed work, if you really want to work on pace, look into tempo runs and other things … and at that point you should be setting up training plans, which is far beyond my knowledge and the scope of this post.

3. Run With Weights

By which I also mean DO NOT run with weights … the problem is that adding artificial weights can really mess with posture and form and other things. So be very, very careful about doing this.

But if you sometimes carry a water bottle, you are basically running with weights – so here is the thought: run with a 1-2lb weight in each hand. As you go along, use them and stretch yourself and do exercises. You will probably see your pace drop, and you WILL feel it in your arms and chest.

And if you do it for a couple of days then run without weights … you will feel like you are flying! Another caution – this is really not something for long runs, and again, be very very careful.

4. Track Work

This week I did my first bit of track work – not on the full track, but on a smaller school trail/track. Just a couple of laps, but basically I took a few minutes from my normal run and absolutely punished myself.

The thought is that with dedicated running on a track of known distance, you can really focus on improving your speed work. It is intriguing to me, as I consider it a torture device that was a high school football team punishment … but like so many other things, being a runner now changes my perspective on this!

I have read a bunch of people doing track work for the first time – I would love to hear about things you have tried, what works and doesn’t, and so on!

5. Kill Those Hills

OK, so me doing hills isn’t news – I have 400ft incline in my daily runs and actively seek the hills on a regular basis. For me, they are fun – grueling, punishing fun. It is always amusing having people driving up or down the really big inclines I do looking at me like I am crazy … because I am, of course – and I love it!

Hills are painful, draining, and really force you to focus on HOW you run them. You will torture your quads and calves and if you do them wrong might end up with an unplanned rest day – but the burn you get and the sense of exhaustion is just exhilarating. And they also allow you to set new goals all the time – just getting up, running all the way, maintaining heart rate and/or pace, and so on. I always make sure to get in some hills every week.

6. ‘Destination’ Run

Last week I headed on a short drive to a packed gravel trail to take a run for a few miles, and it was just something different. Different sights, sounds, and path. If you are like me and run the same places – I have about 6 different main routes I do on a regular basis, but they all center around my house.

So it seems silly, but sometimes just doing something a little different provides a new challenge, or at least gives your brain something new to contemplate.

There are just a few ways I have found to keep things fresh and interesting for myself. Everyone has different things that motivate them – running with friends, groups, or other things. It is all about getting out there!

My Running Summary

As we get into full-on spring, this week we still had two mornings with frost! Not so fun, and one day as it was 30 with a breeze I even put on my heavier gloves to keep my hands warmer.

Sunday: Family time
Monday: 9.5 miles
Tuesday: 8.5 miles, including some track time
Wednesday: 9.25 miles, 2 x 1 lb weights
Thursday: 9.25 miles, 2 x 2 lb weights
Friday: 9.75 miles
Saturday 14.5 miles, heavy on hills!

Very happy with the week – nearly 61 miles. Feeling like I am hitting my ‘summer stride’ in terms of pushing in the miles – eager to get out the door, reluctant to come home. As you can see, this week I did stuff that is on my list – the week before I felt like I was starting to get into a rut, so I wanted to nip THAT one in the bud!

So how do YOU shake out your running blahs?

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14 thoughts on “Motivation Monday – Six Things to Try to Shake the Late Spring Blahs

    • Sounds great – enjoy the trails! I really haven’t taken enough advantage of the gorgeous trails in the Finger Lakes and the gorges in northern PA.

  1. How is it May and you still needed gloves? I cry foul. Thank goodness that finally getting warm here, though it is definitely going to take some reacclimation on my part. But then again, I’m just trying to get my running legs back! For me, there are 2 ways to shake the running blahs–get injured (JUST KIDDING)–no 1) take some time off 2) get your a$$ out there. The blahs are all in our head, so sometimes we need to get our bodies to help us override our brains and get those endorphins cracklin.

    • You joke, but I think for some people getting hurt can be the wake-up about their relationship with running, for good or bad. It is unfortunate that many running injuries leave you open to the NEXT injury, and so on … ugh!

  2. I’m jealous of your 30 degrees! Not entirely, but I truly wouldn’t mind that for a tempo day. I’m impressed that you can put in 14 miles of hills after running 5 days in a row! For anything over 10 miles I have to make sure I’m pretty rested.

    Good points, I’ve done a lot of those things recently (except the weights) and they really do help break up monotony. Hills are my favorite, getting to the top is the best feeling and they’re not “boring” and calculated the way speed work at a track can be.

    • haha – the 30 was a bit cool, 40 would have been very happy … it felt like ‘too soon’, because we really hadn’t had more than a few shorts & t-shirt mornings. And yeah, my body handles things pretty well – I know I am lucky in that regard, and treasure it! 🙂

  3. While I don’t feel like right now I’m in a running slump, I know it can sneak up pretty quickly. I try to change things up often, like right now adding more cross training and yoga. I am also hoping to start swimming a little once it gets really warm. I am also planning to sign up for some fun/no pressure races over the next few months, and try some corresponding workouts for those races that I wouldn’t normally do.
    I can’t believe it was still so chilly near you this week! We had a few weeks of good spring weather, but I think that’s mostly over and the summer heat is here for good!

    • Definitely think it is great what you are doing mixing in other exercises, really keeps things fresh – plus uses different muscles for a better overall workout.

      Yeah, think spring is not going to last much more … but will take what I can before summer fully lands!

  4. I love the destination run idea, I love running in new cities/locations when travelling – why not travel and explore where I live?

    Isn’t it funny how hills – something I used to hate – can be so much fun? And so satisfying. I especially love them on my bike, although I am weirdly scared of going down the other side as I don’t like going too fast haha, much prefer going up! Am starting to realise that after 6 months of zero hills in Buenos Aires going home to the UK is going to be a bit of a shock! Am sure it’ll be good for me though 🙂

    • I agree – they talk about ‘staycation’, staying home and exploring the local area for vacation … but why not also do that with running!

      And yes, hills are definitely an adventure3! I also prefer the up part – particularly on steep ones, as I worry more about getting hurt on the downslopes!

  5. Haha … “run with weights … by which I mean DO NOT run with weights.” That cracked me up. Really good tips! I always find that when I’m feeling “blah,” if I just tell myself to get out there for 10 minutes and then I can turn around if I want, I almost always end up feeling better once I get into it. And … if you’re really having a “blah” day, just give yourself grace to skip it (unless, of course, those “blah” days are tending to happen every day!)

    • glad to provide a laugh – I started out a couple of years ago doing some running-with-weights, then read that it is a terrible idea for numerous biomechanical reasons, so I stopped. But I thought “I run fairly often with a 25oz Camelbak bottle, so …” and tried it again. It really does add a dimension. But again – there are sound reasons NOT to do it, and since I seem to have a body that lets me get a way with crap, I don’t want to give anyone advice that would lead to injury!

  6. Track work experience. Following my first half marathon last September, I decided to try some 400m repeats at the track. Ended up developing my first ever bout of Plantars Fasciitis, probably during the first workout, and then after two more (spread over a course of a month) track days, I stopped doing them, wanting to heal up so I could start marathon training healthy as possible. Possible red flags that might help another runner: (1) not enough recovery time after my first half marathon, I should have rested a few weeks of light running before going track. (2) New shoes, not sure whether these were a cause or not but that first track workout was the first in those shoes. (3) Pushed too hard. I had no idea of speed, so I just floored it and really pushed hard for 4×400 (with a slow mile warmup, walked 400m in between, slow mile cooldown). Two weeks later 6×400, two weeks later 6×400. I think it was too much speed and too many repeats. Everyone’s body is unique, but I know I’ll be paying attention to these three points if I ever go back to the track. Lately I’ve been enjoying 1 mile repeats out on the roads. Not as dangerously fast as short track sprints, but enough to push into the anaerobic zone.

    • That is a great reminder, and also goes back to the ‘terrible tops’ – too much, too soon, too fast. Always a danger – and something I am very aware of … 25 years running, but never a sprinter. Not going to happen overnight!

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