How to Diversify Your Daily Runs

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How to Diversify Your Daily Runs

Running the same route over and over isn’t just tiring — it’s also not helpful for your fitness.

Sure, running the same four-mile path each day is probably better than just sitting on the couch and watching TV. However, the body is trained to adapt to its daily tasks. That means if you never mix up your runs, your body will just get really good at doing the same run repeatedly. In fitness terms, that means either diminishing returns or hitting a plateau.

The risk of injury also increases by running the same route over and over. Run on a track every day, and you may get stress injuries from repeated turns in the same direction. Run on the same strips of roads, and you may get hurt based on the leans of the road shoulder. Run on nothing but the same bark trail, and you may develop tendonitis as the result of too much ankle movement.

What this means is you need to diversify your daily runs. Here are some key ways to do that:

Change up your distances

Mix up days with shorter and longer distances. Rather than run 5 miles daily, spend most of your week bouncing between distances of 3 to 6 miles. Then, on the weekend, do a longer run of 6 to 8 miles. The constant changing-up of distances will challenge your body and help to prevent diminishing returns.

Do speed workouts

If you only ever run at one pace, eventually you won’t reap the cardiovascular benefits you should be getting. Try replacing one of your typical runs with a speed workout — it can be tempo running, track interval training, whatever — and you’ll feel the difference as your body is forced to adjust to running with more intensity.

Add hill workouts

Try to make one of your days cover some decent hills, and perhaps even build an entire workout around running hills. Conquering hills requires the muscles in your legs to work differently than usual; also, the way you run on hills works the joints differently than running on flat ground. Not only will hills boost your performance, but the different technique of running hills can help to prevent overuse injuries from running on too much level ground.

Vary your running surfaces

Never run completely on pavement. In fact, don’t ever run only on one surface. Find trails and tracks in your area, and maybe even find roads with undeveloped dirt or gravel shoulders. Each type of surface will affect your joints, ankles, muscles and feet in different ways, building strength while preventing repetitive injuries.

Find new places to run

Do you live near any cool parks or forest trails? Does your city have a network of paths? Find cool places to run in your area and go there when you have the time. Even running a different route is helpful.

Take cross-training seriously

One of the biggest mistakes that runners make is to focus too much on running while neglecting other exercises. Don’t do this. Spending time on the elliptical machine, exercise bike or even the treadmill will change up your running enough to help reduce the risk of injuries. Also, you can improve your speed as a runner by working an exercise bike with low resistance and high RPMs.

How to Diversify Your Daily Runs

Running the same route over and over isn’t just tiring — it’s also not helpful for your fitness.

Sure, running the same four-mile path each day is probably better than just sitting on the couch and watching TV. However, the body is trained to adapt to its daily tasks. That means if you never mix up your runs, your body will just get really good at doing the same run repeatedly. In fitness terms, that means either diminishing returns or hitting a plateau.

The risk of injury also increases by running the same route over and over. Run on a track every day, and you may get stress injuries from repeated turns in the same direction. Run on the same strips of roads, and you may get hurt based on the leans of the road shoulder. Run on nothing but the same bark trail, and you may develop tendonitis as the result of too much ankle movement.

What this means is you need to diversify your daily runs. Here are some key ways to do that:

Change up your distances

Mix up days with shorter and longer distances. Rather than run 5 miles daily, spend most of your week bouncing between distances of 3 to 6 miles. Then, on the weekend, do a longer run of 6 to 8 miles. The constant changing-up of distances will challenge your body and help to prevent diminishing returns.

Do speed workouts

If you only ever run at one pace, eventually you won’t reap the cardiovascular benefits you should be getting. Try replacing one of your typical runs with a speed workout — it can be tempo running, track interval training, whatever — and you’ll feel the difference as your body is forced to adjust to running with more intensity.

Add hill workouts

Try to make one of your days cover some decent hills, and perhaps even build an entire workout around running hills. Conquering hills requires the muscles in your legs to work differently than usual; also, the way you run on hills works the joints differently than running on flat ground. Not only will hills boost your performance, but the different technique of running hills can help to prevent overuse injuries from running on too much level ground.

Vary your running surfaces

Never run completely on pavement. In fact, don’t ever run only on one surface. Find trails and tracks in your area, and maybe even find roads with undeveloped dirt or gravel shoulders. Each type of surface will affect your joints, ankles, muscles and feet in different ways, building strength while preventing repetitive injuries.

Find new places to run

Do you live near any cool parks or forest trails? Does your city have a network of paths? Find cool places to run in your area and go there when you have the time. Even running a different route is helpful.

Take cross-training seriously

One of the biggest mistakes that runners make is to focus too much on running while neglecting other exercises. Don’t do this. Spending time on the elliptical machine, exercise bike or even the treadmill will change up your running enough to help reduce the risk of injuries. Also, you can improve your speed as a runner by working an exercise bike with low resistance and high RPMs.