Keeping running interesting is a challenge. Few guys understand this better than Ben St Lawrence, a 5 000m and 10 000m Australian national champion, who in a heavy week will cover more ground than Burke and Wills.
St Lawrence’s tactic for keeping things fresh is regularly changing his running venue, from his usual spot in the city to, to the mountains for instance. “I’ll hit the trails in the mountains – that’s rough ground and tough hills,” he says. He also breaks up the grind with interval work, adjusting his speeds and the duration of his rest periods from session to session.
“Running is a such a repetitive sport,” he says, “but there are so many different places you can run and so many different sessions you can do. And it feels like you’re doing something completely different, even though you’re still putting one foot in front of the other.”
Olympian Courtney Atkinson, a three-time winner of the Noosa Triathlon, is another who knows the restorative value of a new setting. While he likes routine, he’s not the Rain Man. “I get bored riding on the roads, so for me it’s a nice change to ride indoors on a stationary bike,” he says. “I can have music blaring and disappear into my own world.”
He continually mixes up his training venue. He’ll take his swim training from the pool, to the ocean, to the lake. And his running goes from the road to the track, to the forest and then the beach. “My golden rule is that if you’re feeling bored and fatigued, it might not be that you’re overtraining, it’s probably just that you need a change.”
Atkinson suggests that if you’re a morning runner, try some night sessions: “You’ll feel like you’re moving quicker.” It’s pouring out there? Even better. “Once you get through the first two minutes of getting soaked to the skin, there’s no better feeling.”