You may not have many alternatives regarding where you run. There may not be a scenic greenway nearby or because of road design and traffic conditions you are restricted by your choices of running routes. Don’t let these limit your running experience.
You can introduce variety in a number of ways. Running the same route at a different time of day can make a big difference. Keep a log and pay attention to what the change in time of day does to your run – are you more relaxed or able to push yourself harder on certain parts of the route? What if you took a second lap around a short loop to add distance or reversed the route entirely?
Pacing is another way to diversify your running workouts. Alternate a week of more difficult workouts followed a week of easier workouts. You can also vary the pace of your warm-up and cool-down.
Mixing things up also helps you keep from stressing the same parts of your body to the extreme. Contact with a poor ground surface is one of the leading causes of injury for outdoor exercisers. The best surfaces for both walking and running are uniform, cushioned surfaces such as grass or loose granular tracks.
If you have bone or joint problems, you’ll want to avoid hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and rocky gravel. Make sure you have the proper road running shoes that are made for pavement or other hard surfaces. They are lighter, more flexible, and designed to cushion your feet during repeated strikes on hard surfaces.