Get Out of That Walking Rut: Tips for Changing Up Your Walking Routines

Every once in a while, I hit a slump.  As much as I love getting outside and walking, there are days when I’m just not feeling it—when the thought of dragging myself out to the trail…again…and walking those miles…again…just seems like too much for me to handle.  Maybe I’m tired.  Maybe I’m stressed out.  And, of course, those are the days when I need to walk the most.  But maybe I’m just…bored. 

Honestly, I don’t know how I used to get up and walk on the treadmill every morning.  And, honestly, I don’t know how I used to walk the same path on the same trail day after day, either.  Now, if I do the same thing day after day, I just get bored.  And when I find myself just not feeling it, I know it’s time for me to change it up. 

Through the years, I’ve found several ways to pull myself out of a walking rut—to find a little inspiration to get those steps in.  Here are a few ways to change up your usual walking routines.

Take It Inside (or Outside)

Are you used to walking outside?  Give an indoor walk a shot!  If you don’t have a treadmill in your basement, like I do, head to the gym!  We have several rec centers near our house, and they all offer day passes.  You can get a pass and walk on the treadmill—or, if they have an indoor track, try that! 

If you want a free option, go for a walk at a nearby mall.  You might have to deal with traffic from shoppers, but some malls open their main doors early, to allow walkers to get in some steps before the shoppers arrive.  Who knows…you might even meet some fellow mall walkers!

Or, if you’re used to walking inside, take a walk outside instead.  Walk through your neighborhood or search for multipurpose trails nearby.  You might just find (like I did) that the fresh air of an outdoor walk is the best medicine for whatever ails you.

Explore a New Trail

I know I’m pretty lucky to have a number of good walking paths nearby.  My go-to trail really is perfect.  It’s a paved trail through a mix of parks and wooded areas.  It’s right next to a river.  And it’s amazing how many deer might greet me on any given morning.  But it’s also in a residential area, so there are always people nearby if I need help (and, also, it makes me feel safe).  But you can get too much of a good thing—and, not only that, but when the city did an extensive construction project on the road that took me to the start of the trail, it was no longer especially convenient.  So that’s when I started looking for other options—like a city park not far from home, which has a combination of paved trails and wooded ones.  There, I can choose from an easier, flat trail that circles around playgrounds and picnic areas and bird houses or a more challenging trail with some serious elevation changes.  And, if I’m not feeling that, I can always walk through the neighborhood (though I once had a run-in with an unruly dog there, which is another story for another day).  Or, if I’m desperate, I can walk around the track down the street (but talk about boring…!)

An important thing to note before changing up your path, though, is safety.  When I’m trying a new trail, I make sure to go with a friend first.  Then I can get a feel for the path—not just for the terrain and the scenery but also for my comfort level.  There are some places where I feel perfectly comfortable—where I know there are plenty of people nearby.  And there have been others where I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking alone—because they feel a little too remote. 

I love having a whole list of different walking locations handy.  I’ve even created some trail trackers to include in my walking planner.  You can pick up your own planner in my Etsy shop at

Walk with a Friend

And speaking of walking with a friend…that’s often the best way to change it up when you’re feeling uninspired.  I’m lucky to have a few good walking buddies.  Some have the flexibility of walking almost any day of the week.  Some can work around a walk on certain days.  Some will walk in the evening or on weekends.  But having someone else to talk to while walking definitely makes the miles fly by.

Don’t have a walking buddy nearby?  Lace up your shoes, pop in some ear buds, and make a phone call!  When one of my favorite walking buddies moved out of state, we would plan to walk and talk on Thursday mornings.  Or sometimes I’ll take the time to call my mom and catch up on her day.  It’s not quite the same as putting in the miles side-by-side, but it still gives you the companionship (and maybe even the distraction) that you need when you’re just not feeling it.

My walking buddies are so important to me that I’ve created a walking buddy page for my walking planner, too.  (Again, you can pick that up in my Etsy shop)

Other Ways to Change up Your Walking Routine

Still stuck in a rut?  Need more ideas for changing it up?  Try some of these:

– If you don’t have a lot of different options for walking paths, try doing the same path…only start from your usual end point and go backwards around your normal path.  You might just take notice of different things along the way. 

– Change what you’re listening to.  If you listen to music, try a book.  If you usually listen to a podcast, try putting together a playlist of upbeat songs.  Or, if you’re feeling especially daring, leave the headphones at home and take the time to enjoy the nature around you instead.

– Change it up by adding weights to your routine.  Pick up some ankle/wrist weights and give yourself a new challenge. 

– Vary your pace.  Mix slower miles with faster miles to give yourself a new challenge and keep things interesting.

– Try walking backward!  I was walking on the track at my friend’s gym, and we kept running into a woman who always turned around and walked backward during a certain part of the track.  There are all kinds of benefits to “retro walking”—though that’s a different topic for a different day.  And it’s something that you’ll need to be careful about—so you don’t fall or run into walls (or other people).  But it’s an interesting way to change up your routines.

Always give yourself plenty of options—from locations to walking buddies to times of day.  You will definitely find your favorites—but giving yourself options means that you’ll never give up because you’re bored.

Do you have a way that you change things up when you’re stuck in a rut?  Let’s hear it!


Kristin has been hitting the trail (or the treadmill) for a walk almost every day for the past several years, and she recently completed her first half marathon. She loves sunny fall days, cushy walking shoes, and coconut caramel iced coffee from Dunkin.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *