Get Out of a Running Rut

By Dan Fey

I used to love running. I looked forward to it. Now I simply see it as something I have to do – more as a checklist as opposed to a wish list. Do you ever feel that way when it comes to exercise? How do you get yourself out of that rut?

running rut
When I see 5 a.m. as my alarm goes off, sometimes I swear I must not have slept at all. I slowly make my way out of bed and try to adjust my eyes so I don’t trip and fall or make too much noise and wake my wife, or even worse, my kids. As I ready myself for a run, I dread it. I know it’s going to be cold and it’s going to be long.

What happened? I used to love running. I looked forward to it. Now I simply see it as something I have to do – more as a checklist as opposed to a wish list. Do you ever feel that way when it comes to exercise? How do you get yourself out of that rut?

I’ve realized I need to change my routine. I’m a creature of habit, I somewhat dread change. Despite how minimal it may be and how little impact it has, I avoid it. That is, until I started to feel almost those same feelings towards running. I realized I was often running the same route, the same mileage and the same pace day after day and I needed to shake it up. I thought about what I wanted to do and how I could fit it into my schedule. Then I made some plans and tentatively started out on a new regimen.

At first, it was a little strange not running as much. I supplemented two days of running for the spin bike. I would have been the last one ever that jumped on a spin bike, but my work required it and quickly I realized a love for that. As a side note, I have also seen it help me significantly in my running. It has helped build up the muscles in my legs.

I also decided I needed to add more strength training, and instead of doing the normal gym stuff, I wanted some circuit training (ie, heavy ropes, ball slams and burpees). I used to be one of those guys that worked out all the time. Not a meathead that can’t seem to put his arms down all the way, but someone that worked out and loved it. It’s almost a rite of passage in my family. You must work out and you must be able to discuss the human anatomy, supplementation and diet. That is what having three brothers requires.

As these changes were made to my workout program, I began to see changes in my attitude, my body and my physical appearance. They were positive changes that I welcomed and I also began to look forward to my runs. I added interval runs (changing pace throughout), hill runs and my normal runs. As I did this I quickly began to regain my passion for running and working out in general. I saw the big picture: that as long as I worked out, I felt better and had more energy. I‘ve known this for years, but I was caught up in life and stuck in a rut.

If that is you, look for ways to change up your routine. Branch out and try something new, you never know, you may really like it. Also, re-evaluate why you are working out and set some new goals to work toward. Exercising with a purpose is some of the best self-prescribed medicine you can get.

Let me know what you have done and what you are doing to make exercise an everyday part of your routine.