For many people, the first thing they say to themselves when they decide it’s time to get in shape is, “I need to start jogging.”.
Personally, I stay away from the basic jog these days. It’s not that I don’t think jogging is good for getting some exercise. It just doesn’t get me excited and I don’t like the idea of the same motion for the entire duration of my workout. Unless you are specifically training for a long distance run, I believe you need to vary your workouts and constantly introduce the body to new things.
If you are the type that goes out for that traditional morning jog with the same distance and same pace, you’ve probably found that over a period of time, your body has pretty much acclimated and stopped showing improvements. If you are somewhat new to fitness training, you might be unsure of what to do once you’ve hit that plateau.
Perhaps you are at a point where you don’t necessarily need to see any major improvements but you’ve gotten bored with the idea of hearing your feet hit the pavement with that same cadence each day.
I also think jogging alone is mentally challenging with respect to staying motivated. For me, when I’m on a run, it gives my mind too much time to think and I constantly ask myself, “okay, how much further?”
If you need a solution to the morning run blues, consider doing these variations to your normal jogging routine for the next 5 workouts. If you like them, you can easily spread this out over the next several months.
Day 1: If you have a normal route, distance, and pace for your jog, try doing this on your first day of change:
Do your same route. Start your run and up your pace significantly from your normal run. Go for 30 seconds and come to a stop. Drop and do a set of pushups. Yep, right there on the sidewalk. Get up, run for another 30 seconds at an increased pace and then drop and do another set of pushups. Do this for your entire run! It doesn’t matter if you are only able to do 5 pushups, just do what you can.
If you need to breath and rest briefly because of the increased pace of the run, just stay in a pushup hold (top of the pushup) and catch your breath, then continue. Even though you are resting, your muscles are still engaged.
Keeping it fresh the following weeks – You can vary this one going forward by increasing the distance and/or changing out the pushups for another form of strength training. You can do a set of air squats, lunges, sit-ups, plank hold or a combination of any of them
Day 2: Find an incline or a large flight of stairs.
Get creative with this and seek out unique locations. I’ve gone to tall parking garages (you get stairs and ramps there plus you get the benefit of the cover in the hot weather), high school football stadiums, local mountains with trails, the stairs in my own house etc.
If you normally go for a 30 minute run, start with that time initially for your first workout, adding this new change.
Start at the bottom of your incline or stairs and run hard to the top. Take a breather as you come back down to your starting point. Keep it at a very light jog returning and avoid stopping completely. Keep moving. Once you get to the bottom, immediately head back up. Pretty simple, but very effective and a great change from the standard jog. The key is to really power through the climb portion with maximum effort.
Keeping it fresh the following weeks – find locations with steeper inclines and taller stairs. Do a combination of both and increase the duration of the workout. Alternate jumps up the stairs with the run. Alternate lunges up the inclines with the run.
Day 3: Carry a jumprope.
This sounds odd, but it’s easy to do. Roll up a jumprope to where you can comfortably carry it with one hand. Or, if you don’t mind spending a few dollars, pick up a runner’s belt and use that to carry it. Something like this would work – Enduro Belt.
This workout will have the same concept as the day 1 with the pushups, except you will substitute the pushups for a minute with the jump rope. Again, it’s 30 seconds of run at a fairly brisk pace and then jumprope for a minute. That’s it. Take your breather as you load the jumprope back up and then get back after it!
Keeping it fresh the following weeks – Vary your jump roping technique. Do high tuck jumps, double under with the rope, alternating high knees, fast jumps on one foot etc.
Day 4: Introduce the sprint.
Once again, you can do this one on your normal route. This is great interval training and will really get your heart rate up, giving you an awesome workout. Start off the run with an all out sprint. You can do a timed sprint or pick out obstacles (such as mailboxes, light poles, signs) to sprint between. The duration or length is up to you. Complete your sprint, but keep moving forward for your rest period. This pace should be a very light jog, just slightly above a walking pace. Decide your length of time or distance for this pace and then go immediately in to another sprint.
Keeping it fresh the following weeks- Like I said, the way you want to structure the sprint/light jog is up to you. You could do 10 to 15 seconds of a full sprint followed by a minute light jog. Or maybe you could sprint between a set of light poles and jog between the next two sets. It’s very easy to make this one a little different each week.
Day 5: Do a combination of all four workouts.
This one is fun because you are all over the place with climbing, sprinting, jogging and strength training. There are a million different ways to do it, so get creative.
For example, I mentioned parking garages before. Obviously, be careful using them because of the traffic going in and out. I have one I go to that is pretty wide open and quiet so I don’t have to worry about the cars. I love parking garages because you have stairs and inclines. An example of your workout might look like this:
- Run an incline at a fast pace
- do a set of squats
- jog back down
- jump rope for a minute
- climb the stairs
- do a set of pushups
- jog down a few levels of the garage
- do a set of mountain climbers
- Sprint the flat portion of the garage
- do a set of lunges
Repeat 5 times!
Adding these new elements to your daily jog will get a little fire back in you for your workouts and will also keep you motivated. Make them fun and different each time and maybe try them with a friend or spouse to bring some additional creativity to it.
Be safe and have fun!
Strength & Fitness Team Lead
These workouts are intended for those who have properly prepared for strenuous activity. American Gymnast is not responsible for any injuries that may result from attempting to perform any of these exercises. Consult a physician before starting any type of fitness training program. Stop exercising if at any time you feel light headed or experience chest pain.