Chances are you’ve picked up a running trail or two during the pandemic.
Running can be exciting and even meditative. After all, there are few things more therapeutic than finally being able to peel away from your work day (and for some, the confines of their home office) to let off some steam.
But like every sport, burnout is inevitable, and being bored or plateauing after months of conquering the same few trails might waylay your good intentions and end up keeping you at home.
Go off the beaten track
Running along your neighbourhood’s jogging trails is fine but they also get achingly mundane after a while. Instead, venture into parts unknown by taking your next run to one of Hong Kong’s excellent country trails — you’ll be surprised by how much more challenging and refreshing it’ll be, plus you’ll learn more about your city too.
The Tai To Yan offers great variety of terrain and elevation to push your body harder, while more popular hiking trails such as Dragon’s Back or sections of the Wilson Trail — offers incredible views of the city as you sweat.
Run at different times of the day
We don’t blame you for wanting to get your daily run out of the way in the morning, but switching up your timing can make a difference in the way you feel. If that routine’s wearing you out mentally, go for an outdoor run at dusk or at night instead; it can change the feeling of the run and make it a whole new experience, especially since running in the dark always feels faster. Besides, it’s much cooler too so you won’t be as prone to fatigue from the elements.
Attempt the speed ladder workout
Ladder workouts are incredibly versatile and are a great way to quickly increase your speed. This form of interval training is perfect for getting out of a plateau, and can be either a time- or distance-based routine. Because there are so many variables, you’ll never have to do the same workout each time, and you can make it as fun as it is tough.
To start, map out increasing and/or decreasing intervals separated by periods of recovery (i.e. 400m, 800m, 1,200m, 800m, and back to 400m), with each interval separated by a one-minute recovery jog. You can either go through these intervals at a constant pace, or complete the shorter ones at a faster sprint instead.
Another option is to measure these intervals by time instead of distance (i.e. running for one, two, or three minutes, before going back to two and one minutes again). Whichever way you choose, speed ladders will help improve your running economy, the ability to keep running when you get tired, and adapt your body to store more glycogen.
Set a new goal
Nothing keeps your outdoor runs fresher than having new goals to work towards. These goals don’t have to be scary and intimidating, and can be as simple as pushing your mileage or bettering your time. As your stamina improves, you can also increase your frequency per week to up the ante. If you’re not sure where to begin, devices such as the Apple Watch has awards that you can collect once you’ve hit certain goals.
Switch up your playlist
There’s no denying that a killer playlist makes any workout better, but if you’re not feeling pumped by your current tunes anymore, it’s time for a new one. Besides, music can help with pacing while training. Listen to fast-tempo sounds exceeding 120 beats per minute (BPM) for high-intensity sprints and music with less than 120BPM for workouts requiring less effort, like a leisurely run.
Here’s an idea: Gather your closest friends, but instead of getting boozed, you’ll all get sweaty. Running with friends not only helps time fly by, but also makes the run way more enjoyable. Besides, a little friendly competition along the way will help push all of you to run faster and longer.
Go the distance, but make it upwards. Instead of your usual trail, try scaling your apartment building, or better yet, 50-storey office building. Stair-climbing not only burns more calories than running on flat surfaces, but can also jolt different parts of your body to work while promoting healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.