Running outdoors: Tips to challenge and add fun into your everyday workout routine
In sprint condition
Amidst the global pandemic, many of us have been off to the races when it comes to personal fitness. Since Phase 1 — we've all been laying out our anti-slip mats, to the devices of virtual fitness classes or Youtube tutorials. Either way, for those of us that aren't too fond of breaking a sweat at home, an evening jog has always been the go-to option to keep fit and a foolproof reason to get some fresh air.
However, if the activity itself is starting to get monotonous and uninspiring, it's high time you spruce up your daily run. Below, a list of things to try.
1. Track yourself
What's worse than running? Running aimlessly. However, with apps like Strava and Nike Running, you can stay motivated by tracking more detailed aspects of your run, like pace, distance, time — along with more advanced ones like elevation gained. It's also a good way to track your run and find new routes to explore for your next jog. Social apps like Strava even lets you follow other friends and track their activities as well as to compete with one another.
2. Do it tabata style
If you're tired of a consistent pace, try incorporating a tabata routine. Go as fast as you can for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds. You can do that repeatedly until you've hit a certain goal distance — whether it be on stairs or a flat terrain.
3. Onwards and upwards
What better way to be in tune with the concrete jungle that is Singapore, by conquering a HDB flat? By conquer we don't mean literally conquer. Instead of heading out on your usual and mundane 5km trail, make a detour and scale the entire height of a flat while you're at it. Not only does it demand a different challenge, it engages different parts of your body, putting more emphasis on your quadriceps and calves. Just try avoid going up too fast — you might end up feeling dizzy.
4. Go off-road
If you haven't already been doing this, take your next run to one of Singapore's National Parks. There's a whole assortment for you to choose from: Macritchie Nature Trail for those who want a more challenging terrain, and Henderson Waves if you want a view of the Singaporean skyline. Since you're there, make a day out of it by catching a sunset or sunrise during your run and enjoy the breathtaking hues colouring the skies. Before you set off, remember to lather yourself in insect repellent. We are on dengue alert, after all.
5. You are not alone
Humans are social creatures. Feel free to ring up your friends, family, even pets, to go for a nice jog together. It may be hard to find running clubs — especially given the current pandemic, but don't feel obliged to run alone either. Having a running buddy always makes things more fun. You can push each other to run faster, and even catch up over a coffee afterwards.
6. Try the ladder
Unlike the typical interval training, these reps get increasingly more difficult either in distance or speed. For instance, start off by running 200m, rest for 10 seconds, run 300m, rest for 10m, then continue with 400m, and the cycle goes on. This run helps in keeping your exhaustion at bay as you try to break a personal distance while still finishing strong.
7. Play a game
We came across this Swedish game called "Fartleks". Swedish for "speed play," fartleks allow runners to reap the benefits of speed work in an unstructured workout. To try fartleks, just run at a comfortable pace to warm up and then throw in a sprint — run hard until you reach the end of the block, or until the next stop sign, a red car — or anything red for that matter. Come up with your own variations while you're at it.
8. Set goals
While marathons are still off limits with the pandemic, don't let that stop you from training for one. Set personal goals for yourself, to complete mileages for each month or to set your best time for a 5km run. This would be great motivation and good preparation, once marathons become a reality once again.