Runners World Articles: Archives
Play While You Run - Five workouts that will keep
you coming back for more
A nonrunner once told me, "Yeah, I'll start running as soon as
I see someone running and smiling at the same time." She had a point.
If we don't have fun during our workouts, we'll never stay motivated
for a lifetime of running.
To keep running interesting, I propose balancing your workouts
with playouts. Here are five playouts for you to try.
If you're running with a group of friends, try the following:
Chase: Start runners from slowest to fastest on a track
or a designated course. The faster runners chase and try to pass
the slower runners (who refuse to let them) before the finish. Ideally
everyone finishes the race at the same time. Stagger the start as
fairly as possible by handicapping runners based on their current
5K PRs. For instance, someone with a 25-minute 5K time would start
seven minutes ahead of someone with an 18-minute best.
Scavenger Hunt: If you have a running group of four or more,
play in teams. Each team first jogs along a running route and hides
various items. The teams then meet at the designated start and exchange
lists that offer clues about the location of each of the items.
Everyone sprints off. The first team to find all the items and return
to the starting point wins.
I've run many versions of these scavenger hunts, and each one has
produced hilarious moments. Best of all, you gain a quality speed
session without feeling as if you've worked too hard.
On Your Own
If you're by yourself, try these runs:
Fantasy Race: Watch a world-class track meet or race, or
even an inspiring running movie. Then the next time you run, pretend
you're one of the elite runners in the race you watched. I don't
think I've seen any sporting event more exciting than the come-from-behind
victory of Billy Mills in the 1964 Olympic 10,000 meters. When I
run, I often recreate the race in my head. I'm Billy Mills getting
bumped and tripped by competitors on the last lap, falling behind
but then mounting an awesome kick to pass two runners and claim
the gold medal.
Prediction Run: Predict how long it will take you to run
a particular course. Then leave your watch at home (or at least
cover up the face with masking tape) and see how close you can come
to your predicted time. Record your results in your training log.
Purposeful Run: Instead of running simply for the sake of
exercise, run to accomplish a goal. Slip your bank card in your
shorts pocket and run to the ATM to get cash. Run to a friend's
house to drop off that CD you borrowed three months ago (make sure
to wipe your sweat off the plastic case). Run to the convenience
store for those smoke-alarm batteries. Such short stops do more
than break up your run. They allow you to accomplish otherwise mundane
Fun Race Moves
Here are five ways to have fun during races, especially if you're
not trying to nab a personal best:
1. If you're racing with a partner, play the I'm going on a picnic"
memory game. You start by saying "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm
bringing apples." Your friend says she's bringing apples and bananas,
and you go onward through the alphabet.
2. Try to chat with as many different runners as you can.
3. If bands are playing along the course, stop and dance for a
minute at each band.
4. Count how many spectators' hands you can slap.
5. Dress up like Elvis or Sporty Spice.
World, October 1999, p. 38
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