Even the biggest running aficionados deal with bouts of boredom from time to time. It’s important to have several different boredom-busting strategies, since one isn’t guaranteed to work all the time. And while music and watching your favorite show are always great strategies for adding some excitement to a run, these ideas go beyond creating new playlists or binge-watching. Try some of these strategies the next time you’re feeling bored while running:
1. Brainstorm ideas.
Running can really help get the creative juices flowing. In the relaxed state of running, it’s easy to clear your mind and really focus on a subject. I like to use my running time to think about ideas and plan. I think about upcoming vacations, new articles to write, meals to cook, emails I need to compose, activities for my kids to do, or gift ideas for relatives or friends.
2. Get distracted.
Try really paying attention to all the sights and sounds you’re passing. This is usually pretty easy to do if you’re running in a race and there are lots of other runners, spectators, and other distractions around. When running in nature, paying attention to your surroundings can prevent boredom and also make you appreciate being able to run when you realize how lucky you are to be surrounded by natural beauty.
3. Run off some steam.
If I’m stressed or upset about something, running almost always makes me feel better. A running break helps me get away from the situation and think more clearly about it. And often the run gives me the perspective to realize it’s not really something that I want to spend my time being angry or worried about. That angry email I was about to write before my run? It suddenly seems like not such a good idea after I’ve been able to chill out and gain perspective during my run.
4. Focus on the workout and your performance.
Whenever I do a very structured workout, such as an interval workout or hill repeats, the time goes by very quickly. I don’t get bored because I’m always changing and focusing on something different — the time, my pace, the recovery. If you typically do most of your runs at the same, easy pace, try mixing it up with some speed work.
5. Solve problems.
Running gives me uninterrupted, peaceful time to think deeply and productively about something I want to fix, whether it’s a professional or personal issue. With limited distractions, I’m able to really focus on the problem and brainstorm possible solutions.
6. Alternate with another cardio machine.
If you’re really bored on the treadmill, try breaking up your treadmill run by alternating with the bike or elliptical trainer. If you want to do a 40-minute cardio workout, run on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then jump on another machine for 10 minutes, and keep alternating until you’ve reached your total goal time. If you have a treadmill at home and no other cardio machines, try running up and down the stairs or do jumping jacks for five minutes, in between running segments.
7. Mix it up with strength-training exercises.
Don’t assume you have to run the entire time when you go for a run. Work some strength-training exercises, such as push-ups, lunges, and squats in between intervals of running.
Also see: How to Boost Your Mood When Running