The days are getting longer, the first signs of spring are appearing, and we can finally start shedding our multiple layers of running clothing. It's the perfect time to amp up your training and get back into a solid running routine. Or is it? With unpredictable weather, that feeling of being out of practice, and waiting for the trails to clear of snow, it can be difficult to find the motivation to increase our weekly kilometres.
We've put together these suggestions to help you get out of that rut and get excited about running again. You know you love it, sometimes you just need a reminder.
1. Find a running buddy.
Living in a mountain town often means that everyone is on different schedules and you will inevitably have to run by yourself at times, however training with a friend can make the world of difference. If you've arranged to meet someone, you're less likely to bail on your run because you don't want to leave your friend standing there waiting for you! So when you're arranging a catch up with a friend, why not go for a run instead of meeting at the local coffee shop or bar? Pick a route that you can enjoy at a conversational pace and you'll be surprised at how much more quickly the time passes.
2. Join a local running group.
Image: We Run Whistler - Running the Whistler Golf Course loop
Running is a great social event, and running groups are an excellent way to meet new running buddies, share your training tips and get motivated. You might set out thinking you'll manage about 10k before feeling fatigued, but in a group, you might be 15k in before you even realise how far you've run. Running groups are a great way to remind yourself that you're more capable than you think!
We live in an area with a great selection of running groups for all abilities. Escape Route have our own running group in Squamish. Join Escape Route Run Club on Facebook to find out more and join our weekly trail runs. If you're in Whistler, we’ve got an exciting new trail running group coming your way soon, but in the meantime, we love We Run Whistler, who also have a great Facebook group that you can join. These groups focus on having fun, meeting new people and pushing yourself. If you're not feeling confident enough to run with the group quite yet, joining these Facebook groups allows you to see the distances being run and reach out to the group leaders or other members with any questions.
3. Hit the trails.
Image: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane - Exploring the stunning Whistler trails
If you’re strictly a road runner then you’re in for a treat! Trails are exciting, challenging and open a whole new world of running routes. The softer ground is also much easier on the joints than concrete! If you're in Squamish, chances are you've already enjoyed a few trail runs this season. If you're in Whistler, the more scenic sections of the valley trail are currently about as close as you can get to that feeling of running through the forest. So why not get together with a group of your new running friends and take a trip down to Squamish? There are some great snow-free trails to be found at Alice Lake and Brohm Lake (the Four Lakes Loop is a staff favourite) and trail information and conditions can be found by downloading the Trailforks app. Make a day of it by treating yourself to a well-deserved beer at our new favourite post-run spot Backcountry Brewing afterwards!
4. Get some new listening material.
We've likely all experienced the situation of running alone and our minds trying to talk us out of what we're doing. 'This hill is too steep, I'll have to stop and walk' or 'How I can I possibly run another 5k?!' Listening to music while running can help you get into a rhythm, motivate you or even just distract you from your suffering!
However, we've recently discovered podcasts to be the perfect running companion. Listening to someone telling a story almost feels like having someone beside you on your long run. There are so many great podcasts out there, from radio shows to comedy to motivational speakers, there is definitely something for everyone. You could learn something new, practice your foreign language skills, or research the location of your next trip. When you consider how many hours you're running each week, it's the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and knowledge!
If you have any podcast recommendations, please feel free to share them in the comments field. We're always looking for something new to listen to on our long runs.
**Please note that if you’re listening to music or a podcast while running, make sure the volume is at a level where you can still hear what’s going on around you!**
5. Get rid of your listening material!
However, if you're always plugged into music or podcasts, why not try running with only the sounds of nature and your footsteps. Spring brings so many changes and running outside is a great way to experience and appreciate the changing seasons. Having all of your senses free allows you to really appreciate the beauty of your running route and connect with your surroundings. So unplug once in a while, focus on your breath, the movement of your body and the scenery around you, share a cheery ‘hello’ with those you pass and enjoy that great sense of calm that being in nature brings.
6. Take a running vacation.
Image: Running in the Grand Canyon
If time and resources allow, why not go even further and enjoy a running vacation? A change of scenery can be just the thing to get you out of a rut. If you're used to running muddy, green PNW trails, why not try running in the desert? If you've spent the winter running interval sprints on the treadmill, why not treat yourself to some barefoot beach running? Covering some new terrain and experiencing different conditions is a great way to enhance your training if you tend to run in the same place. And as we all know, running is a great way to cover a lot of ground and see more than you usually would, so it’s the perfect way to explore somewhere new!
7. Mix it up.
Image: We Run Whistler - Night run in the Lost Lake trails
If a running vacation isn't an option, just mixing up your routine can make a huge difference. Find a hill and do some hill intervals, grab some friends and your headlamps and run in the dark, track your runs and compete against yourself and others with apps like Strava or create a contest among your friends. See who can cover the most distance in one week, or who can sprint a certain section of your run in the shortest time. Some friendly competition is a great way to motivate yourself!
8. Treat yourself to some new gear.
When your shoes are worn, or your tights have stretched out, running just doesn't have that carefree feeling it used to, not to mention the potential for injury from worn-out shoes. We have some great brands here at Escape Route, but we're particularly impressed with the new selection of trail running gear from Arc'teryx. The new Norvan LD Shoes are some of the most comfortable running shoes we've ever tried and are specifically designed to cover long distances. The new Cita Pant for women is also a favourite amongst staff. Lightweight, water-resistant and breathable, they are a great spring running pant as they fit slightly looser than a running tight, keeping the chill out but stopping you from getting too warm when you run from the shade into the sunshine.
9. Sign up to a race/running event.
Photo: Brian McCurdy - Coast Mountain Trail Series Sky Pilot
If you haven’t already signed up for one of the many awesome running events in the Sea to Sky, it’s time to get on it as some are already sold out! Having something to aim for is a great way to get motivated, and the scenery you'll witness in this area is almost unbeatable. There are a great variety of distances available so there really is something for everyone. Check out Coast Mountain Trail Series for some of our favourite events.
10. Don’t run.
What? Isn’t that what we’re trying to do? It may seem counterproductive, but if you’ve tried everything above and you’re still feeling like you’d rather do anything other than running, then maybe you need a break. Try taking a full week or two off to explore some other activities. Join a yoga class or do some yoga at home (there are many great tutorials on YouTube), spend some time swimming at your local pool or try out a new class at the gym. When you do get back to running, you might be surprised by how much energy and enthusiasm you now have.