Ways to Bust Your Running Rut

Generally speaking, I’m a fan of running routines.

My running is most consistent when I get up and out the door before I even think about it. Hills on Wednesday, long runs on Saturday. It’s just what I do.

But it’s a fine line between a routine and a rut.

Every now and again, my (usually) beneficial running routine is the thing that’s holding me back.

Bust Your Running Rut

Here are 30 ways you can bust your running rut.

Bust Your Rut Running Challenges
Click the calendar for a downloadable PDF version of the list

Go Backwards

Have a go-to running route?

Run it in the opposite direction.

#TBT Playlist

Make (or find on Spotify) a high school throwback playlist to listen to while you run.

Be Grateful

Dedicate each mile of your run to a person or thing you are grateful for.

Go It Alone

Run alone.

Just you, your thoughts, and your running shoes.

Pay Attention

Notice something on your usual running route you’ve never noticed before.

I ran by Children’s Fairyland in Oakland for years before I noticed a large hedge by the entrance is shaped like a dragon.

Obvious once you pay attention.

Lunch Break

Run in the middle of the day.


Add in some planks (or other core moves) post-run.

Cool It

You know you should cool-down properly, but you usually don’t do you?

Say Hi!

Say hi to other runners you pass, especially those you see often.

Bonus points if you learn the names of those you run by often.

Make Your Own Fuel

Run a distance when you’d usually fuel on-the-run, but instead of grabbing a prepackaged gel, make your own.


Do some post-run yoga

Blaze a Trail

Run a new route.

Use the Alltrails app to find a new trail route, or just turn left instead of right on your usual, every-day route.

See where it takes you.

Dog Jog

Take a dog running.

Don’t have one? Borrow a friend’s or volunteer at an animal rescue that uses dog joggers.

Night Owl

Run at night (assuming you can do so safely).

Get Dirty

Do a trail run.

Leave the pavement behind and feel the dirt beneath your feet.

Head For the Hills

Run a route with a whole lotta hills.

Name That Dog

Distract yourself on the run by coming up with the perfect name for every dog you pass.

Is that black lab more of a Rufus or a Frank?

Early Bird

Run first thing in the morning.

Run Naked

No tech allowed! No GPS, no watch, no music.

Read More

Neither Rain Nor Sleet…

Run in the rain, snow, or whatever inclement weather you have, assuming you can do so safely.

Try a Threesome

Run in a group.

(Honestly introverts, it won’t kill you).

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introverts running with a group

What’s That Jam?

Listen to a genre of music you don’t usually listen to on the run.

Get Strong

Add in a few squats and lunges mid-run.

Bonus points if you do a full strength workout after your run.

Fly-Away Playlist

Make a playlist that evokes a bucket list travel destination.

Bonus points if that destination is a racecation destination.

Extra deluxe bonus points if you actually start planning that racecation.

Don’t Forget Your Arms

Add in a few push-ups or tricep dips mid-run.

The upper body is so easy to overlook.

Have Some Heart

Run based on heart rate, not pace.

Play DJ

Swap a playlist with BFF or significant other.

Take a Trip

Run in a new city or a new state.

Be a Flatlander

Run the flattest and fastest route around.

Be a Podperson

Listen to a new podcast on the run.

Bonus points if it’s a running podcast.

Bonus Running Rut Busters

Time or Distance?

If you usually run by time, run based on distance.

If you usually run based on distance, run by time.

Read More

Train for an Odd Distance

After years of training for 5ks or half marathons (or whatever your distance of choice is), you really know your training plan (maybe by heart).

But if you’re training for an 8k or 25k?

That is a whole new ball game.


If you ever run races, you should volunteer at them too.

You’ll never look at a race the same way again.

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volunteers at a race setting up an aid station


Fartleks are bursts of speed added into a run.

On an otherwise normal run, speed up until…. whenever. Until you get to that lamppost or stop sign up ahead or until you just get tired.

You don’t need to hit the track or calculate fancy splits to do speedwork.

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foot in a running shoe


Expand your fitness horizons and try that new class at the gym.

Do regular yoga or barre classes.

Read More

Hire a Coach

Get a second opinion on your goals and your training plan.

You likely can do way more than you think, but it may take a second pair of eyes on your training plan to see it.

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