The Training Tip Every Runner Needs
Make this easy tweak to your runs and you’ll have more fun, give more effort, and stay healthier.
What’s the quickest way to hate a song you love? Play it over and over and over and over again. The same goes for your running, says Chris Bennett, Nike Running global head coach.
“If you're doing the same 5K every day, where's the joy in that?” he asks. “There's no success other than ‘I finished another run.’ Varying the run that you do — in any way possible — is crucial to keeping you invested in the sport.” And according to Derek Samuel, a licensed physical therapist and Nike Performance Council member, it’s necessary if you want to get better at running.
“If you’re looking for a new stimulus, try taking smaller steps and see if your body feels better,” says Samuel. “Or try not to jump as much when you push off. Your head shouldn’t move up and down more than 4 to 6 centimeters.” These adjustments can make your body feel better, he says, which can make you want to run more or more often.
Best of all, varying your routine will help feed your muscles and your mind, says Brett Kirby, PhD, a human-performance scientist at the Nike Sport Research Lab. “If we only ate hot dogs every day, our bodies wouldn't have the healthy exposure to any of the other nutrients in the world,” says Kirby. “To be an overall healthier runner, you need to fuel the body with a lot of different things.”
The Simple Change
On your next run, try something new.
Here’s the exciting part: That new thing can be anything. “Your choices aren’t just going faster or longer,” says Bennett. “You can run in the opposite direction. Run a trail. Change your music.”
What makes even tiny changes effective is that they help you experience running in a different way, says Bennett. And that’s what will encourage you to get back out there — again and again and again and again.
“You can run in the opposite direction. Run a trail. Change your music.”
Nike Running global head coach
More Tips to Move You Forward
01. Track what you’ve done.
You want to mix up your training before you ever think, Ugh, this run again? To do that, Bennett suggests that each time you try something new — going faster, taking a fresh route, hitting a new distance — you write down the run you did and how it felt. When the new thing starts to feel easy or routine, mix it up again.
02. Change your terrain.
Take your route over trails, sand, grass, or rocks. “The variety isn’t just more fun,” says Samuel. “Running on different surfaces can also strengthen different muscles in different ways, giving your body another way to improve its capability and get even stronger.”
03. Focus on more than metrics.
You don’t have to ditch your watch, but don’t obsess over it. If you typically run with music, put your songs on shuffle, try a new playlist, listen to an album from start to finish, or don’t listen to music at all for a change. “What’s great is that little changes like these make big changes to your running experience,” says Bennett. “And that keeps your running fresh.”