Noah and I moved to Philadelphia in June 2014, and I took to the running paths like a duck takes to water. I loved that I no longer had to swerve past thousands upon thousands of pedestrians to get to a quiet place, as I did in New York City. Philadelphia has a lot less people, and the Schuylkill river — voted one of the best running trails in the U.S. last year — was practically in my backyard.
The Schuylkill River path, showing off.
As a morning runner, I certainly appreciate habit, and the Schuylkill River running path would become just that; I don’t typically eat or drink anything before leaving, so I like to be able to get up and out without much thought. As a result, my morning run is expected. It’s comfortable. It’s second nature. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going or how to return. It’s a simple loop — around the art museum, down boat house row, past the bridges — and I know that, within 50-60 minutes depending on how sleepy my legs are, I’ll be home.
On the way back from the museum.
That’s the bright side of limited choices. The fewer options you have, the easier it is to simply go.
That’s not to say I don’t get bored though. In truth, I have not one but three potential running loops that I tackle on any given day, but the breakdown speaks volumes:
- My trusted five-mile route wins out probably 80% of the time.
- Here and there, I’ll pepper in a shorter version of the same running path (though this one takes me to the South Street Bridge entrance and along the newest leg of the trail) …
- … As well as a solid five miles to the Delaware and back.
The Delaware at sunset. She’s a stunner.
Some mornings, I wake up and think hey — I’ll do something different today. But when the time comes to make a decision, I always know which way to run.
How do I combat the monotony of it all? A few things:
1. Vary your music.
Okay, so this likely won’t apply to everyone — I know many of you prefer to run without any tunes at all. But if, like me, you like a good playlist, music can be an excellent way to spice up your run.
Some mornings, I go for your standard workout music, like Rihanna, Sia, Kanye or The Biebs.
Others, I go old school with a little Elton John, Phil Collins (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it) or The Beatles (I’ve found that Abbey Road is the perfect soundtrack for five quiet miles).
One of my favorite times of the year? Coachella. I’m not a huge fan of large, muddy crowds, so I’ll probably never go, but following the show I like to download my favorite artists and listen to their sets while I soak in the sun.
2. Pay attention to how your surroundings are changing.
The route itself may not change, but as seasons change, the details certainly do. It’s transformative, really, and because of it, I don’t really have a favorite time of year to run. I truly love the start of every new season.
For instance, spring. Is there anything better than those first few spring runs in leggings and a t-shirt, or shorts and a hoodie? And the colors — wherever you look, everything is blooming. After a long winter, colors abound. It changes your perspective if you let it.
3. Challenge yourself.
Boy, am I guilty of this. I’ve always said I’m the laziest active person around. I love a good workout; I run nearly every day, and if I don’t, you can find me at The Barre or doing yoga from my living room floor. But when you don’t set a goal for yourself that goes beyond get to the same bridge I run to every morning, stretch, return home, rinse, repeat, yep … you can get a little bored of that trusted morning routine.
Every now and then, do something to challenge yourself. Sign up for a race. Time yourself. Go an extra half-mile. Do 10 push-ups at the halfway point. Up your pace.
While some people are always looking to run longer, faster, stronger, I’ve always valued the simplicity of a mindless morning run. But sometimes, we want more than simple. Satisfy the craving.
Do you ever wind up bored of your morning routine or running route? How do you spice things up?