Marathon Running
Spice It Up
By Blue Benadum
Oct 25, 2009 - 7:49:52 AM

MALIBU—Today’s article isn’t about food, though you’re welcome to draw parallels, it’s about running and training and the things we can do to spice it up and keep from getting jaded.  It’s not only easier to motivate when you are having fun, but also more beneficial to your overall fitness to mix things up a bit.  In running this can mean switching locations, speeds, distances or just the overall goal and mindset of any given run.  So instead of going out to pound another four to six miles as hard and fast as you can, here are a couple ideas of ways to bring the “caliente” back to your palette. 


One of my favorite ways to break myself out of a running slump is to hit the trails. I recently found myself in Palm Springs with my girlfriend and we decided to take the world’s biggest tramway from around 2,000 feet in elevation to around 8,000 feet in 10 minutes. The adventure was calling and the trails were perfect, rolling through the forests dotted with granite boulders and downed trees. I’m not sure how far we ended up running but it didn’t matter, that wasn’t the point. We ended up at around 9,000 feet before returning to the tram for a ride back down. Trail running can add a much needed sense of adventure, obstacles that keep you focusing on your stride and foot placement, a softer surface to ease the pounding if that’s an issue for you and often times there is a notable elevation loss and gain, depending on the trail of course. But most of all, for me, it’s like being a kid running through the woods wild and free.


Another beneficial switcheroo is hitting the track. Many runners fear the track, or dread it, because it just seems so monotonous. I can assure you this goes away once you learn when to use it and what to use it for. The track is not meant for just logging miles, that’s why we have such a beautiful planet, rather as a training tool for shorter distances, drills and speed training. So take one day a week and make it your speed workout day, hit the track and you’ll start to look forward to it. Try intervals; after a warm-up do 400 meters, one straightaway, sprints with a short rest, 30 sec, in between X 10 and then a cool down.  Play with the distances and your pacing. Playing with your different gears is one of the most beneficial techniques in training. You learn more about your body and its potential for performance on different levels. The increased heart rate, compared to a sustained and comfortable pace, also helps with metabolism and fat burning for those trying to shed some pounds.


Of course there are many other ways to make your daily runs an enjoying experience. Experiment with your ideas as well and hopefully these examples will help keep you out of a rut or get you back in your shoes and on the road, or trails, again. Stay inspired, keep running and spice it up, you’ll be glad you did.

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