Five ways to refresh your running — for the times when it sucks
All the stuff that Runner’s World didn’t tell you
I recently ran the Stockholm Marathon, only for the race to fall apart at mile 16 and leave me wondering why I even bother. The training! The pain! All for nothing!
Part of me wants to get right back out there and prepare for the next race but I know that’s a terrible idea. I need to recover and be refreshed. I need to fall in love with running all over again.
If you’re in the same boat, don’t worry — I’ve been thinking long and hard about some ways to get one’s running mojo back that you definitely won’t find in Runner’s World. So, without further ado…
1. Find a slow running partner
Inspired by training with the love of his life, fellow runner Andy advised me to find “a super slow romantic partner to run with.” If you’re single, like me, there’s only one solution: Tinder. Get to swiping and keep your eyes peeled for guys and gals in their running gear — but NO MEDALS. This is important. You’re looking for a fair-weather runner, not another ultra-marathoner who’s going to demand you head out on Sundays at 9 a.m. for a “gentle” 24-mile long run. We’re trying to recover here, people.
In the absence of a suitable runner-lover, buy a dog. Preferably the most uncooperative, slovenly, sluggish-looking one you can find at your local rescue shelter. You’ll find it hard to bolt around your favourite trails at race pace with a new furry friend that just wants to lie on its back and be stroked at every available opportunity. Which is exactly what happened to me when I attempted to blend my dog-sitting responsibilities with running training a few months ago. Trust me: it works a treat.
2. Get an unconventional off-season goal
Inspired by legendary athlete and ale-drinker Andy Holden — whose greatest achievement, arguably, was running 100 miles and drinking 100 pints in a single week — switch the chia seeds and protein shakes for cheese and beer, and get training for the Marathon du Médoc, known as “the world’s longest, booziest race.”
With its 26.2-mile route snaking through the vineyards of France’s Médoc region, and well-stocked rest stations offering wine, cheese, oysters, foie gras, steak and ice-cream, you’re going to need to be at peak unfitness to truly conquer the course. So cram your running backpack full of indulgent snacks, fill up your hydration bladder with the finest bottle of red you can find in the cupboard, and head out for an afternoon of, um, hard training.
3. Pump up the (slow) jam(s)
Yeah, so you’ve got a perfectly-curated Spotify playlist with each song’s BPM painstakingly matched to your goal race pace? So what? You need to ditch that. Instead, think slow and sensual. Running with emotion and feel. Not to be too prescriptive, but your playlist needs to start with R. Kelly’s Bump N’ Grind, flowing straight into I Wanna Know by Joe. You get the idea.
See if you can incorporate a few slick moves as you practice Romanov’s Pose Method. And just you try to break your P.B. with those silky smooth jams filling your ears.
4. Stage your own kidnapping
Throw on your running gear, bid a tearful goodbye to your loved ones, and get a friend to blindfold you and call an Uber on your behalf, before bundling you in the boot and asking the driver to deposit you in the middle of nowhere, leaving you to find your way home alone. And no, you’re not allowed to take your phone. (You’ll have to log this one on RunKeeper manually…if you make it back alive.) What better way to call out your inner Liam Neeson than a treacherous, lonely run along mystery trails?
5. Give up
Seriously, what’s it all about anyway? All those months of training schedules and early mornings, aching legs and chafing nether regions, lost toenails and bleeding nipples. Why bother? You’re a grown-up. You should be spending your weekends doing civilised things that don’t involve inordinate amounts of pain, like leisurely walks to feed the swans, trips to art galleries and bottomless brunches. There are a tonne of other, more adult, things you could be doing with your time.
But just know that the track / road / trails will be here for you when that running itch is back, and you just have to scratch it.
Got a better — or worse — way of recovering your running mojo? Let me know in the comments.