The sun on your face, the wind in your hair, the cool air in your lungs. You’re doing it, you’re running!! Yes! It all sounds so perfect… until you’re actually out there gasping for breath after 10 minutes, wondering what route is the fastest way home and how in God’s name you ever thought this would be a good idea!
A tough run can make a newbie runner feel incredibly frustrated and defeated. It’s no surprise that many new runners (myself included!) want to stop running soon after they start their journey.
After 10 years of inconsistent running habits two years ago I made some significant changes and truly learned how to enjoy running! The biggest change that I have made is that I vary the intensity of my runs: while some of my runs are slow and relaxing others are fast paced and very challenging. This takes the pressure off to “run faster every time” and makes every run unique and fun. Several of the tips below are things that have worked for me over the past 2 years as I have finally embraced running in my life.
Tips to actually enjoy running!
1. At first run for either time OR distance. When new runners start putting pressure on themselves to hit a certain pace running can quickly turn from a relaxing hobby into a frustrating event. Decide before your run either the time OR distance you want to go and do it. (Tip: newbie runners- give yourself at least 3 months to ease into a new running regime. Consistency is key!)
2.Go watch free! In the beginning it is more important to be consistent than to run at a specific pace. The fact that you made time for yourself during the day is something to be proud of! Once you get into the routine of running THEN add the watch in, but in the beginning just enjoy running!
3. Run outside- Nothing can beat the sun on your face, fresh air in your lungs and blue sky for miles! At the end of your run you will know that your own two feet carried you for miles and miles all around town! Nothing beats that feeling! (*Note- I do not enjoy running on the treadmill. I log the miles and pass the time, but is a completely different mental/emotional experience than the outdoors).
4. Warm up! Many new runners report difficulty getting get past the 20-30 minute threshold of running. Interestingly it often takes my body 20 or so minutes to warm up, my mind to relax and get in the groove of running. Everyone’s body is different. Give yourself the opportunity to warm up, relax your mind and finding your groove.
5. Run easy (in the beginning). Too many newbie runners (my past self included) run as fast as they possibly can every single time they run. Please stop the madness! Take it easy! Choose one day to run hard, one day to run very easy and one day to just run for yourself.
6. Have an awesome playlist! Music has the power to completely change your mood at a party, in the car and at the office- so why not on the road! Update your playlist, set it to shuffle and enjoy!
7. Sign up for a road race. Signing up for a local 5k is a great way to get motivated and keep yourself accountable for weekly workouts! (*Note- During my 10 years of on/off running I never ran a road race, and yet in the past 2 years I have ran in 20 races! Motivation much?) Road races are for everyone (new runners and seasoned runners alike)!! I cannot stress the importance of signing up for a race enough!
8. Run with a friend/running group. I enjoy the peace and quiet of running alone, but recently I have been running with friends too! I’ll admit that the miles definitely pass by much faster when you’re chatting with a friend!
9. Find a run with a view. Whether is it an easy run along the beach, an amazing view from the top of a beastly hill or running around the fancy part of town to see how the other half lives, create running routes that will keep you mentally engaged in the run.
10. Challenge yourself. You know that big hill in town that you avoid- RUN IT! Why? Because when the run is done and over you will have accomplished something you didn’t think that you could do! Give yourself the opportunity to succeed and I bet you’ll surprise yourself!
It’s no secret that I love running. Running has helped me transform into my best self, a happier, well balanced woman, mother and wife. I feel more confident and accomplished as a runner than I ever did in my full time job as a mental health therapist. How that is possible I just don’t know. What I do know is that running unlocks a side of myself that in the first 28 years of my life I never knew existed. The extremely shy and self-conscious book nerd was replaced with a talkative, passionate woman who knows she is capable of extraordinary things. Running makes me feel like I can do anything or be anyone I want to be.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Recently a reader sent me the following message, “I need pointers on how to enjoy running. I can’t stand it. I can do it for a week, and maybe a week and a half then I get down on myself and quit. Any pointers?” I can truly relate to this because I ran on/off for 10 years while chasing numbers on the scale before I began consistently running just 2 years ago. In two short years I have gone from running my first 5k (January 2013) to completing 2 marathons (NYC- fall 2013, Chicago- fall 204, training for Boston spring 2015).
During those 10 years I often made excuses to get out of working out and/or running… I’m too tired, I have homework, I have a test tomorrow, I just ate, I’ll start tomorrow, One missed workout doesn’t matter. When I did run it wasn’t easy either! I got tons of blisters, I panted heavily (because I wasn’t breathing right), I never ever considered the possibility running over 6 miles and I rarely smiled. The reality is that I ran for fitness, not for fun. I ran about 4-5 miles at about a 9-10 minute pace about 3 times a week; I kept this up for about 3-4 months and then gave up. Every. Single. Time.
I repeated this on/off cycle for nearly 10 years before things finally changed and I truly fell in love with running. What changed? Why then? How? Those are stories for another time, but the bottom line is that it is possible to go from running for fitness (and disliking it) to running for fun (and loving it!!). It is possible to learn to love running!!
Have you ever had a love/hate relationship with running?
How do you enjoy running? What tips do you have for others?
Never. Stop. Running.
The Lone Runner