One of the things I did this summer to mix things up was hit the trails for running. Let's just establish the fact that by trails I mean unpaved, mostly flat trails. Not hilly, challenging trails. Anyway, we have a great little trail system not too far from where we live and it really is something we don't use enough. Because I was working second shift, I switched by weigh-in time to Thursdays at mid-day and decided to hit the trails before going to weigh-in.
This particular trail system is nice because there are several little loops ranging from about .75 miles to 1.25 miles that you can link together to hit the mileage you want to hit. I found the setting extra relaxing (no music necessary - just enjoying nature!) and I found it easy to hit a happy pace. It was a great way to break away from the normal neighborhood loop.
Since going back to first shift, I've been scheming how to fit the trails into my routine regularly. On Friday I brought my running clothes to school, changed there and drove right to the trails from there. I was tired, but I had an awesome run. I broke 36 minutes for 3 miles (I did 4:1 run/walk intervals), which is a time I haven't seen in awhile. As a side note, I did the same intervals today on my neighborhood run and I hit 34:08. Wahoo!
I highly suggest seeing if there are any running or biking trails in your area (and if you're in New England, comment and let me know where they are so I can check them out!). It's a great way to break up the monotony and it just might be the boost you need to have an awesome run!