Five ways to keep running when you’re out of routine

Easter is behind us, but for some lucky people the holidays just keep rolling on as Anzac Day conveniently lands on Friday. Not really worth coming into work for three measly days, is it?

The great thing about a 10-day break like this is the respite from routine. Usher in late nights and sleep-ins; usher out alarm clocks and pre-dawn exercise. Of course, there’s work to be done too, like ridding the house of Easter eggs and residual hot cross buns. Someone’s got to do it, right?

It’s all good until the sight of your abandoned running shoes in a corner makes you feel a little uncomfortable. It makes you remember the last time you wore them and the marvellous feeling of undoing the laces and yanking them off afterwards. That feeling of accomplishment and the physical and mental clarity it brought you.

Hmmm. How to have the best of both worlds: a break from routine, but the self-discipline to still put on those shoes and get out for a run?

It’s a challenge, especially if you’re a creature of habit. After all, making a habit of exercise is a good thing. It means earmarking a regular time for it, so it becomes a non-negotiable element in our daily routine. But there’s that word - routine - again.

I had a bad case of cabin fever when the rain didn’t let up in Sydney recently. I hadn’t exercised that morning and by lunchtime I was getting very tetchy. I knew what needed to be done, but given my usual time to exercise had passed I was all out of sync and stuck in a weird state of ennui. Thank goodness (for all concerned) I finally put my shoes on and left the house. Within minutes the downpour began but perversely, that seemed to invigorate me. I hit the harbour tracks knowing full well they’d be boggy, but I wanted to be alone by the water where the wind and rain were driving the hardest and where there would be few people. I had no particular plan but ended up running about 20 kilometres. I was wet and muddy, my quads were complaining, but I was happy. Haven’t felt so good in ages.

On reflection, I put that “extra good” feeling down to having run out of my usual routine. Sometimes doing things the wrong way around can be the most gratifying.

Here’s five ways to run out of routine

1. Try to hold onto the memory of a breakthrough run that you would like to replicate. When that voice in your head is giving you every excuse not to run, revive that memory and act. It doesn’t matter what time it is.


2. Go for a really long walk. You’ve got the time, in between demolishing Easter eggs. Find a friend, your kids, or just go by yourself. And walk fast with purposeful strides for at least an hour, preferably incorporating some hills; it’s good to use different muscles and you’ll probably feel it the next day.

3. If you’re usually a morning runner, book an evening run with yourself and line up a social event afterwards. That way you’ve got a reward to look forward to afterwards and a “no-later-than”  run starting time to plan your day around.

4. Do a parkrun. It’s a timed 5km race held in parks around Australia every Saturday morning, usually at 7 or 8am. Parkrun has found its niche in the grassroots running category. It is a truly local, community spirited event and being free is a big part of that. No booking is required; participants just need to register with parkrun once online then print out a set of barcodes that can be swiped at any parkrun anywhere in the world.

5. Do a one-way run. If, for example, you are driving somewhere, run the last 10km to your destination. This worked for me on a trip through the wine regions of South Australia years ago. Google Maps is good for plotting a route and distance. It’s a good use of otherwise dead time and a great way to take in the scenery, assuming you’re not on a freeway. Oh, and don’t have a fight with your driver before you get out, or the run could be a little longer than planned.

Do you have a secret to out-of-sync exercising?

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