4 Ways to Mix Up Your Running Routine

Whether you started running to improve your health, to lose weight, or simply to prove you could do it, your goal as you continue to run should be to enjoy yourself. If your routine has become so routine that you dread lacing up, it's time to make a change. Even minor ones can help you head out the door with a smile on your face.

The 25 Golden Rules of Running

You Always: Run the same loops
Try: Running them in reverse

Having a favorite route (or a few) beats "where will I run today?" stress, but running on autopilot can get boring. A simple way to switch things up is to run your usual loop in reverse. You'll still know where you are and how far you're going, but you'll engage your brain a bit more. (That's right, running can boost more than just your health and fitness. Check out the 5 Ways Running Makes You Smarter for more.)

More: Is Your Running Plan Right for You?

You Always: Run the same easy pace

There's nothing wrong with slow running, but if you're hoping to change things up, adding weekly speedwork can help. Try this: Start with 10 steps of walking, then ease into a jog for 10 steps, then into a faster jog for 10 steps. Then, over the next 30 steps, pick up the pace to one that is slightly faster than you usually run. Then, slow to a walk. Do two of these after an easy run at first, then add one each week until you're doing 4 to 8.

9 Steps to Faster Sprinting

You Always: Run the same distance
Try: Adding a little. . .or subtracting a little and going faster

More: Should You Change Your Running Form?

Runners who vary their routine from week to week will gain fitness faster than those who don't. To amp up your long runs, add a half-mile to your longest run every other week, and make sure to take it slow. Or change up a shorter run: Run a mile less than you usually would, but throw in a few 20- to 60-second bursts of faster running.

You Always: Run for fun
Try: Entering an event

If you're lacking motivation, having an event on the calendar should get your rear in gear. Plus, races (or untimed events like color or mud runs) are fun—the energy of fellow runners makes covering a distance more enjoyable than it would be solo. Check out a local running store or running club Web site to find an event in the next month that interests you, then sign up. (Nine of the Best Marathons in 2014

More: How Running Changed My Life?

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