As much as I love running, I have to admit it can be monotonous. I know other runners know what I'm talking about - you map out a three mile, four mile, five mile loop, and then you run that loop. Over and over and over again. I have done the three and four mile loops in my neighborhood what feels like a million times. I know exactly where my IT band will start twinging and exactly how many strides I have to get to the next mile.
That is one of the major reason why I've taken to running in towns all across the country. It breaks up the routine and keeps me focused. It doesn't always help, however, around mile four when I've got to cut back through the same part of the neighborhood to get through my five miles.
I try to mix it up as often as possible, but it's so easy (albeit sometimes boring) to just jump into the same familiar route. If I'm doing more than five miles, I immediately head to the Lansing River Trail. There are miles of trails along the Grand River, and it makes it significantly less monotonous. That being said when I run with my co-workers we always do the same run along the river trail...so it can be a little much to do it again on the weekends. I've also had people discuss concerns with their safety when running along the river trail alone. I probably should be more cautious, but I've never been concerned about it.
I love to mix it up and do hill runs in Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing. The first hill in the cemetery is killer - I love it. It's also right where I can pop onto the river trail into East Lansing and run on campus, another favorite run.
One time I did eight miles on a treadmill and lived to tell about it. Never. Again. It was torture. I can run MAYBE three miles on a treadmill before I want to pull my hair out. So if it's raining or freezing cold I'd much rather be outside than slaving away on a treadmill (seriously - it feels like slaving).
This is the time in the winter where air is a little colder, the running is a little slower, and my focus is more on Christmas shopping than PRs. After the first of the year I'll be starting the training plan for the 2012 Green Bay Marathon. Until then I'll stick with my boring four mile loop and eat an extra piece of pie.