Running in the 'Meda: Changing things up

Running in the 'Meda: Changing things up

Marty Beene

What should you do if you're bored with your fitness routine?

This is a common problem for many of us. It is especially hard if we made a New Year's resolution related to fitness and now find ourselves two and a half months into the year without the results we were hoping to achieve. We finally make the effort to commit to a program of physical fitness (which we know is a good idea), but then, after some period of time, it gets monotonous. We begin to find excuses to not go to the gym, do our four-mile jog, or cycle around the Island.

In order to continue to maintain our fitness, it is critical to find a way to not bore ourselves back into a sedentary lifestyle. The best way to achieve this is to frequently change that routine. For some people, simply varying the way they do the same exercise is enough to keep them interested. For others, making a more significant change is needed.

Let's say that your routine involves walking, running or cycling, and your usual workout covers the same route. The easiest way to make a change in that routine is to do that route in the reverse direction. If you've never tried this, do - you'll feel like you're discovering an entirely new route. The next easiest option is to actually find a new route. In Alameda, this is easy enough - if you usually use the Bay Trail on Bay Farm Island, you could, instead, use one of the interior paths. If you're not sure where you're going, don't worry - it's kind of like Venice, where getting lost isn't that big of a deal, since it's not exactly San Francisco.

Another example is for those among you who consider yourselves gym rats. I've been doing some easy weightlifting for years (since 2002), and I have always tried to switch things up every few months. Sometimes I increase weight and reduce reps, or perhaps change the number of sets. I used to only use the weight machines, but a few months ago I devised a little circuit for my wife and I that incorporates other modalities (e.g., hand weights, steps) and a lot of balancing - a good habit to get into for those of us at an age I like to call "pre-seniors." We're starting to get a little bored with it, so, yes, I will be changing it again soon.

A more dramatic change can be to either completely switch to another activity or add new pieces to your established routine. Not long after I ran a marathon in 2004, I felt bored with my running-only routine. In the summer of 2005, I went to watch a friend do a triathlon, and it looked like so much fun, I decided I had to do one! My first visit to a pool was, shall we say, not very successful, but I decided to accept the challenge of learning how to improve my swimming so I could attempt a triathlon someday. I also joined local cycling club Team Alameda in 2006 and started doing regular weekend rides up into our lovely East Bay hills and beyond. It took a while to figure out how to swim far enough to do a "tri" (three years, to be exact!), but I finally entered my first one in June of 2008. It was so much fun I did two more that summer (short distance ones), and I felt like I was finally having fun working out again. I haven't exactly become a "triathlete," but now I know when I get bored I can always shift my exercise focus a little toward cycling and swimming and enter a triathlon with a couple months' notice.

How do you keep yourself interested enough in fitness that you stick with it?