Ways to Add Variety to Your Running Routes

Variety is the spice of life and running is no different. When you are heading out of the door on a regular basis, it is essential to have a range of different routes and run types under your belt to keep things interesting. Adding variety to your running routes is an important tool you can use to keep your motivation high and actively shape your training to suit your goals.

The Three Types of Routes

When going for a run, there are three types of routes:

The Out-And-Back: Run for a set distance in one direction, then retrace your steps back to the start. This is a great type of route if you want to practice a segment or if you are short on time. Running an out-and-back also gives you a great way to measure your progress or focus on maintaining an even pace.

The Route/The Loop: This is possibly the most versatile type of route as you can free draw any route on a mapping tool before taking to the road (or trails) in your trainers and going for that much-needed run. Or, even better, don’t map it, just run for fun and end the run back at your door.

The Point-to-Point: Possibly the most famous point-to-point run is the Great North Run. It can be difficult to replicate this in training due to the logistics of starting your run in one place and ending in another. This type of run challenges you to stay motivated as you don’t have the option to return home if the run isn’t going too well.

Ways to Add Variety to Your Running Routes

Adding variety to your running route

Take to the Trails

One of the nicest, and possibly the most scenic, ways to vary your running route is to take to a local trail. Trail running challenges your agility and balance as the surface beneath your feet is changeable and often uneven. On the right trail, this kind of running is also a little easier on your joints as the demand on your body is more varied and takes place on softer ground.

Of course, each trail is unique, and some are much more technical than others but that is why trail running is so interesting. There is something for everyone.

Trail running requires a little more planning than your average road run and you should be mindful of taking the right kit with you to make sure that you don’t come unstuck if the worst happens and you become injured mid-workout.

Head up a hill

Heading for the hills is another way that you can add variety to your running routes. Hills are brilliant for building up explosive strength as well as mental toughness as they are often unforgiving beasts that require your full concentration and plenty of effort. The good news is that they get easier with practice and whether you incorporate rolling hills into your workout or hill repeats up your favourite, brutal incline, the benefits to your running are many.

If you struggle for motivation on hills, find a segment on Strava and try to beat your time each time you incorporate some elevation gain into your session. It’s important to recover fully after a hill session but doing a hill session once per week is a great way to build up your strength and speed on the climbs.

For a more challenging workout, take your hill session to the fells or trails and take on the challenge of climbing whilst keeping your balance over uneven ground. It is important to be intentional. Hills are generally hard work, and they should be followed by an easier day of running, ideally on the flat, before taking to the hills again.

However you choose to do hills, they can be fun and are definitely rewarding when done with good form and as part of a well-rounded training plan.

Add Strides

Strides are a running drill that we have covered previously. They are short sprints that should be around 85-95% of your maximum effort lasting for around 100 metres.

Strides allow you to focus on speed and improve your ability to surge during a run. Doing strides as part of your training gives you the opportunity to hone your form.

Your body will be more able to maintain a higher pace on race day and that can only be a good thing when you need to change your pace in a key moment of your race.

The Fast Finish

Similar to adding strides, the fast finish is an approach you can take to the end of your workout. Practising your finishing kick at the end of a workout is beneficial in two ways:

It trains your body to perform when it is tired after a run, emulating race day.

It trains your mind to fight back against the tiredness to enable you to finish strong.

The next time you come into the finishing straight of a race, you will be able to kick like Mo Farah and clinch a shiny new PB.

Running can be monotonous but it needn’t be. By including some of the ideas given in this article, you can create a training programme with plenty of variety, further improving the effectiveness of your workouts. However, you choose to add variety to your running workouts, make sure that you are well prepared and give yourself enough time to recover after each session.


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