Challenge the way you train

Updated: Apr 30

Sightseeing run around London

If you are tired of your training regime, the same boring routines or the same old route you always run, it’s time to mix things up! It’s time to challenge the way you train!

Challenge the WHERE

Find a new and exciting route or location. If you always train in the same old place, of course it’s gonna get boring. I like to try not only different gyms, but also different paths, parks or streets for my runs. I’ve done sessions in all the parks around here, different places along the Thames path, under a pier, even in the middle of Millennium Bridge (trust me, you can get away with almost anything at 5 am).

Challenge the WHEN

Do you always run in the afternoon? Or evening? Try getting up earlier and catch the sunrise. It’s really beautiful (when you can actually see it from the fog and the clouds). But keep trying. One day you’ll catch it and it’s gonna be worth it, I promise. My favourite scene is watching the sun rise behind Tower Bridge, as you stand opposite on London Bridge. Priceless.

Challenge the HOW

Find new ways to train. There are endless possibilities, even within the same sport. So many ways to run, so many ways to lift and so many other sports you probably haven’t even heard of. Have you tried them all? Don’t think so.

Sightseeing run around London

And here’s how I challenged the way I usually do my Sunday long run. Instead of getting down to the river and following along for 10-20 km, as I usually do on a Sunday morning, I decided to do something different. I would still run 20 km, but I would change the HOW. And the WHERE. So I broke it up into four parts: 5 km, 6 km, 4 km and another 5 km. I would do these runs every hour on the hour. Which means I would run my first 5 km and then, whatever was left from that hour, I would continue walking. At the start of the next hour, I would start my 6K and, again, after finishing, I would walk for the rest of the hour. And so on. I drew a nice little circle before I left, planning the best route, but really just winging it, based on my previous favourites. And it came out almost perfect. It was a beautiful day of recreation and sightseeing. Relaxing and challenging at the same time.

Here’s how it looked like:

Hour 1 - 5K: I started in Bermondsey, via Borough and London Bridge, along the Thames, past Blackfriars and the Southbank Centre, saw the London Eye and the Aquarium, then I crossed Westminster bridge, passed the Parliament, and ended the first 5K in beautiful St James’s Park (there are a couple of nice coffee stands there if you didn’t bring food along and wanted to grab a bite). I had about half an hour left for an easy walk in St James’s Park, followed by Green Park, past Buckingham Palace, up Constitution Hill and finally through Hide Park.

Hour 2 - 6K: Starting at Marble arch I ran north to Paddington, went down along the Grand Union Canal to Little Venice, and from there, still along the canal, towards Regents Park, finishing by the London Zoo. Another easy walk through Camden before the next leg (once again, if you’re hungry, you can grab a doughnut or a churro at the food market).

Hour 3 - 4K: Just past the food market in Camden, I started my third hour, running past Granary square and reaching the Islington tunnel. Here I had to leave the towpath (as there isn’t one) and resumed at the other side of the tunnel, following the canal towards Victoria Park. This was the shortest run, only 4 km, so I had quite a lot of time left to enjoy the canal side, my favourite running route while I was living at Angel.

Hour 4 - 5K: Just before Victoria Park I started my final run of the day, following the familiar path past the park, towards Mile End and Limehouse Marina. Instead of running around the marina or taking a turn towards Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park, as I used to do before, it was time for the home stretch. So I ran straight into Rotherhithe (damn, that’s a lot of Hs) tunnel, causing, I’m sure, a bit of a confusion amongst the drivers, judging by their surprised faces. There is a footpath in the tunnel and nowhere does it say that you can’t run through, btw.. It is a bit suffocating down there, that’s true, but it was also really cool. And the best part was, just as I was finishing my final run, I literally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t have planned it any better if I wanted to! And as I emerged from the tunnel, just in front of Southwark Park, I got back on the Thames Path and enjoyed a (by now very slow) walk back to Tower bridge, completing just under 30 km in total. It was awesome!

I decided to share this with you, not just as a great suggestion for London sightseeing, but also because it shows how much difference it makes when you decide to challenge the old ways and do something differently. I have been doing my Sunday long runs for years now. Yes, I do change the scenery from time to time, but it’s the same old long, slow, distance run every time. The above idea came to me literally the night before. I looked at the map, worked out a circle that would cover roughly 30 km and I gave it a shot. And I loved every moment of it. It was a completely new way of doing things, it was challenging, fun and, honestly, a beautiful way to see London. Try it and you’ll see.

Challenge the WHY

Sometimes the problem isn’t how and when we do the things we do. Often it comes down to the reasons behind it all. Motivation is a key factor not only in training, but also in everything else in life. Why we do things, matters. A lot.

I wrote a whole big post about the WHY and training motivation, so make sure you check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the way you do things. Don’t be afraid to challenge the way everyone else does things. Don’t be afraid to challenge the way you think. And don’t be afraid to challenge the way you train!

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

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