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How to get out of a Running Rut

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For the past two weeks, I’ve been vacationing in an awesome location.  (My protective mommy doesn’t want me disclosing said location.  I think she thinks I’m famous!)  The only downside to the place I’m staying is that it’s quite close to a highway, and there’s only one real running path that wouldn’t have me dodging cars.  (True, I’m lucky there’s at least the one path… and it’s even grassy so I can keep up my no-running-on-pavement preference.)

For someone who likes exploring as she runs, pounding down the same trail day-in and day-out for two weeks has gotten pretty monotonous.  Luckily, I’m going back home next week, so I don’t really have to worry about running boredom much longer.  (I’m so excited; I’ve been away from home for almost two months now!)  But to combat the monotony of the next few days—and to help out anyone else who’s ever experienced a running rut—I thought up a few strategies:

Ways to Break out of a Running Rut

  1. If at all possible, don’t go the exact same way every day.  Take side streets, back roads, etc.  (But, for safety purposes, always be careful not to run in too remote a location.)
  2. Don’t always run at the same speed.  It can be so much fun to pick a landmark—such as a tree or house—in the distance and try to run as fast as you can to the landmark.  Or, if there are other runners around, turn your run into a speed contest.  I don’t often see others out running in the mornings, but when I do, I get so excited!
  3. As you run, watch out for other people. Make up stories about them in your mind after you pass them.
  4. Find a running buddy.
  5. Come up with a mantra.  Instead of thinking, “How many more miles,” repeat: “Harder, faster, stronger” or “Never give up”.
  6. Download new songs on your ipod and don’t allow yourself to listen to these songs unless you’re running.  That way, you’ll be excited to run because you’ll be rewarded with your favorite songs.
  7. Treat yourself to some new running gear.  No, I’m not one of those crazy girls who puts make-up on and curls her hair in order to go out running… but I do like cute, matching outfits!
  8. Zone out.  In the past few days, with my path getting so predictable, I was starting to think things like: “Wow, I’m only here?” or “Gosh, I still have so far to go…”  To combat this, I try to ignore the space around me completely, getting lost in my thoughts.  It helps to brainstorm—before you leave the house—a few things you want to think about while you run.
  9. Pick something specific to count during your run (I got this tip from the internet), such as red-shuttered houses or black cars.
  10. Mix up your routine by adding in other forms of cardio, such as biking or swimming.
  11. Run in the rain!  Sprint through puddles and pretend you are five.
  12. Play the running-and-imagining game.


Okay, that’s all I have.  Now it’s your turn.

What do you do to break out of a running rut—or any rut in your life?

Oh, and there was no Photoshopping (aside from the coloring) involved in the picture in my last post. It’s from the wax museum. You should’ve seen the line to take a picture with President Obama!

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. carolinebee says:

    hahah that is awesome- i would never have guessed wax museum!!

    AND duh u are famous Miss Kate 😀

  2. Maria says:

    Hehe I like to have cute matching outfits too when I workout. It really is a lot more fun! I’d like to see you running—imagining Elvis, sprinting through puddles, zoning out, lol! These ideas definitely would entertain (both the runner and those watching 😉 )

    I guess when I’m in a rut I try to add several new things in along with the old. For example, if I start getting tired of my standard salad, I’ll kick it up by adding fresh corn, avocados, and salsa. Or add new stretches/yoga poses to my after workout stretch routine (can get pretty boring!).

    I thought Obama looked kinda funny, but they totally fooled me int thinking he was real!

  3. buffmuffy says:

    man im in a rut right now too. i just am stable at my weight and i cant get off these last pounds. i don’t know what to do! lol. i’m still trying to figure it all out.

  4. Haha, I was wondering how you did that Obama picture! I thought it was suuuuper amusing.
    And I love your active running imagination! I don’t run much, but I have a gym exercising tip for keeping motivation up in a monotonous environment: Check out the male eye candy around the gym as you do your cardio! (Isn’t God good?! He does fab work.) You can make up stories about them or just oogle their muscles…discreetly of course. It helps if you pick a machine directly behind a certain eye candy specimen. This method can even force you to try a new machine if said eye candy is lifting/cardio-ing in an area of the gym you haven’t yet explored!!!

  5. broccolihut says:

    GREAT post! Thank you so much for posting it. I definitely do #3, 6, and 11 on a regular basis. Something I like to do is this: for every song that plays on my iPod, I think of a time in my life when it would be appropriate, kind of like background music in a movie. (I wrote a post about this called “Soundtrack to Life.”) It really makes the time go by!

  6. Liz says:

    Love this post Katie! It’s so easy to slip into negative thoughts like “How much further!?” when running. I think I agree most with the whole zone out thing – then my run’s over before I’ve even noticed that it started!

    Other than that, another rut I tend to get stuck in is a writing rut. I love to write – blogs, short stories, song lyrics, you name it! But sometimes I get such bad writer’s block that I can’t think of a single new thing to say, and all the characters in my head are the same as ones I’ve conjured up before. I find the single best way to get out of a creative writing rut is to watch people – kinda like how you were saying you make up stories about people as you run past them. This works so well on public transport! I catch the same train every morning with the same people and I’ve given them all names, ages, likes and dislikes, places to live… and they’ve been some major inspiration for me, let me tell ya :)
    And this doesn’t only work for novel or lyric writing – blogs too! Whenever I feel like I’ve run out of things to comment on or phrases to use or if I just feel like I’m writing without personality, I remember the way I reacted to the people on the train that I saw. Don’t know if that makes sense, but sometimes taking note of how I respond to other people is the best inspiration for writing ever!

    Anyway, that was a REALLY long comment, sorry! Haha. Hope your holiday in the “undisclosed location” has been really enjoyable!


  7. I get out of my workout ruts by basically trying to “save up” my mental problems of the day for my run. Like, I don’t try that hard during the rest of the day to emotionally brainstorm thru my issues. I save that for my run. And then when I’m on it, I just kind of let the solutions come out brainstorm stream of consciousness style.

    I also run in an urban area and so there are enough car honks, goofy tourists, crazy bicyclists, etc that I really need to be on my toes and I can go a quarter or a half mile sometimes where it requires my full concentration to simply not get hit by a car! and so that’ll snap you outta your rut quickly.

    And I also am pushing a jogging stroller with my 2.5 yr old in it, and whenever things get a little ruttish, we sing the abc’s, again. Enjoy your solitude girls on your runs, it won’t always be that way :)

  8. I love running in the rain! I need to get some decent waterproof running gear though. I went out yesterday in the rain and my t shirt ended up so heavy!lol

  9. Hi Katie! Hope you’re having a great time.
    After years of trying to make running more interesting, I have come upon my magic formula:
    I lie down in the sun for 20 minutes mid-way through my run! Maybe this is cheating, but I really look forward to it. I use the time to make vitamin d and do some deep breathing. :)

  10. Liz,
    What an awesome idea! I definitely get writers’ block too. Now I kinda *want* to get it… just so I can try out your suggestion.

  11. Kate says:

    I would always break out of a running rut with many of the things you suggested, mostly with the music. I only had music i could listen to on the run and I’d even make playlists to play songs at times I’d usually be tired or frustrated to pump me back up again.

    The other way to get out of the rut was to join running clubs, or run outside or work instead of outside of the house, or drive to a nearby city that you are familiar with and run there. Now if I could only get my knee working again…

  12. jcd says:

    Those tips are really great.

    I haven’t been running (jogging) for long, but I like running my usual route in reverse for a change. The scenery looks so different from the other direction. I also like to skip when my legs are starting to get tired. It uses up a lot of energy, and people look at me like I’m crazy, but it is fun, makes me smile, and usually gives me that 30-second break I need to get jogging again.

    Best of luck with your sole running route in that undisclosed location!

  13. faith says:

    Hey, was that you at Spiral last night? If not, it was your clone wearing a completely cute outfit. (I didn’t want to bother you or your clone by asking and making a complete idiot out of myself)

  14. Faith,
    LOL I guess it was good you didn’t ask, because it definitely wasn’t me. I’m not in Texas! But OMG I have a clone??? I’ve always wanted one, ever since I saw the movie It Takes Two! I wish I knew who this mysterious person was…

  15. Angharad says:

    Love the running tips!! Mixing things up with my route and music is the key for me. Happy Friday!

  16. itstartedwithafish says:

    Audiobooks ! Mind you, there is no running (hopefully, YET !) in my life, but I go for walks and an audiobook keeps me going at least for the planned time…

  17. Alison says:

    Do we have the same mother? :-)
    I agree with getting new music. I also like running the same path, but going backwards

  18. Christina says:

    Haha that’s so funny about the wax museum picture. I thought Obama looked a little weird!

  19. Good ideas! Even though I don’t run, most of these can also be applied to working out at the gym. I love the “only allow yourself to listen to your running songs” while you run idea.

  20. thanks for your tips on getting out of a running rut…i need them!! i’m also in a strength training rut–i just can’t seem to get motivated! i wonder what tony gonzalez would do… :)

    Hope you enjoyed your vacation!

  21. Jules says:

    Great advice! Although I probably shouldn’t try switching up my route…I have a horrible sense of direction. Once I got lost walking to the orthodontist’s, which was only a few blocks away. :)

  22. randomlymikey says:

    those are great tips! some of them have saved my butt a few times. one thing i have been doing lately is grabbing my camera and taking a few shots when i run. it challenges me to find new things everytime and i get excited for each run. you could even make a scrapbook or something. it’s funny how fast they get those statues in there, the one near me already has a michael jackson one.

  23. Liz says:

    Hahah well maybe writer’s block will strike sometime soon? People-watching is always so much fun though, writer’s block or no. Hmm that makes me sound *slightly* creepy… I’m not, I swear! Hehe.

  24. Damjana says:

    Actually running outside never bores me, I have a few different paths where I run. The running machine is a different story, once I managed to run 20 min there and it seemed like eternity

  25. Damjana says:

    Regarding no. 9 I used to count cars having two numbers on the licence plate which were the same (for example 55 or 66, but 665 didn’t count). I wanted for example to see 10 cars like this in the last 1 km. The parked cars didn’t count;), just the ones driving past. I always found so many.

  26. Amy says:

    Great post! I definitely have days where I find myself counting the minutes, or worse, feeling like I have a zillion things to do and not enough hours in the day. So, I sometimes switch things up by turning an outdoor run into an errand. I’ll strap on a small backpack and choose a route with a stop right on the middle – anything from an organic market to a drugstore to a post office to an ATM. That way, the run has a second purpose, there’s a distraction mid-way through, and I always finish with a sense of accomplishment for being super-efficient with my time. Somehow, those runs always go by SUPER-fast! One other idea, for those of you who only run on flat surfaces, is to try walking up & down really steep hills once in a while – it’s truly awesome, esp if you can find a peak with views.

  27. Cookiemouse says:

    Does your advice work for bicycles too?

  28. Emily says:

    New music always helps distract me and keep me going! I know you like to run without music sometimes, but what are you fave running songs? When my routes start to get old, I try to change them up, though I am most definitely a creature of habit. :-)

  29. Caroline says:

    Hey Katie! I’ve been a reader of yours for a whie and I am a runner too. We actually run pretty similar mileage which makes me think you would do really well in road races. I think that’s another way to get out of a running rut…being able to aspire to run a new distance or set a personal best time.

    Seriously, you should consider doing a 5k or 10k sometime!

  30. Mandy says:

    Hey Katie! Great post. I especially like tip #4, and I noticed that your running partner is a bunny. I also found a furry running buddy – a squirrel – but I found that he was rather unreliable. After he skipped out on our 3rd run together (the nerve!) I decided to replace him. I found a human buddy on a site called Meet in Real Life – you just go to the site, register in your city to see others that are looking for a buddy – or post that you are looking and people will contact you. It’s free & I’ve met some great people.