Would you rather clean a truck stop bathroom with your toothbrush than entertain the thought of running any distance whatsoever? You’re not alone, millions of Americans hate running. I myself also used to loathe running. My hubs, who’s like a fleet-footed gazelle, was always trying to get me to run with him and I was always assuring him that it would likely end in my death.
I would try, I really would, but I would usually end up making it a quarter of a mile and then give in to my weak mind and quit. I had decided that I just wasn’t meant to be a runner. And then, out of the blue, for some deranged and unknown reason, I decided I wanted to give running an honest to goodness try. The first run sucked, but then something crazy happened – I actually started to enjoy myself! The thing about running is the only way to get better is to do it; there are no substitutions. As my fitness improved and I got more comfortable running, the less the suck factor took the fun out of it. To give me a little motivation, I signed up for a half-marathon (go big, or go home, right?).
Fast-forward six years and I’ve run five half marathons and a dozen or so 5 and 10K races. My pregnancies are the only time I’ve hung up my running shoes and that was simply because my pregnant body couldn’t handle running. Don’t get me wrong, I still can’t say I love running – I’d much rather throw some heavy weights around – but I do enjoy getting out, getting my sweat on and clearing my head. Running is just as useful for pushing yourself and challenging your body as any other activity; you just have to learn to un-hate it. Since I have managed to accomplish this to some degree, I’m going to share a few tips and ideas to maybe help you hate running just a little bit less.
- Start Small–When you’re first starting out, you don’t have to go straight for a marathon or half – just making it around your block without stopping is a good place to start. I will say, however, races definitely give you a little more motivation so sign up if you need a little extra push.
- Find Someone to Suffer With–If you’re not into solo workouts, con one of your friends into hitting the pavement with you. But make sure they’re just as new to running as you are or it may backfire. I hated running with my hubby for the mere fact that running was easy for him so he was always over there being little Chatty Kathy while I was gasping for every precious breath. Needless to say, that kind of fed the hate fire.
- Listen to Tunes (or Not)–Some people like to use music to distract themselves from the pain of running and I think a lot of times it works – just make sure you have a good playlist ready. I, on the other hand, prefer to run without the distraction, but I also live with three little humans so any silence is pure bliss. But seriously, running without music almost puts you in a meditative state where you can focus on your breath, body and any random thoughts that pop into your head.
- Don’t Focus on Speed–Newbie runners, for some reason, think they need to be fast to be a runner – that is so not true. The only thing speed is going to do is burn you out fast and increase your hatred for running. Instead, pick a pace you’re comfortable with and stick with it adjusting as necessary during the duration of your run.
- Walking is Not a Sin–Don’t feel like a failure if you have to walk, it’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, a walk-run program is a very effective way to build a solid base for running. Some competitive runners even use strategic walking breaks to improve their overall running time – if it works for them, it’ll work for you.
- Learn to Relax–One of the biggest mistakes beginning runners make is tensing up during a run. This is going to make running more difficult and suck a whole lot more than if you just allow your body to relax. Your face, arms, hands, hips and legs should all be relaxed – really, your core should be the only part of your body that feels remotely tight. If you find yourself tensing, make it a point to work your way down your body, allowing those tense muscles to relax – running will feel much more natural if you just let your body do what it already knows how to do.
- Distance Isn’t a Must–You don’t have to run 100 miles a week to be a runner. You don’t have to run 10 miles a week to be a runner. You just have to run. Don’t get hung up on mileage. Just do what you can and what you can fit into your schedule. If you don’t feel like you can get a good workout without racking up the miles, give sprints or hill repeats a go.
- Find a Trail–The best way I’ve found to distract myself from the horrors of running is to do it with a tranquil backdrop. Whether you’re high up on a mountain trail (be sure to take elevation into consideration – it’s a killer) or on your favorite trail in the city park, distracting yourself with the beauties of nature is a great way to drown out the hate.
- Keep Tabs–You may not feel like you’re making any progress in the running game but if you keep track of your runs, whether by time, distance or both, you’ll see you’re getting better and faster every day. Nothing motivates like written proof that you’re kicking ass.
- Go Shopping–The best part about getting into running is the fact that you need to do some shopping. Let me tell you, there are some pretty beautiful running shoes out there these days and a ton of super cute apparel. If watching your super fly kicks flashing by with each stride doesn’t make you hate running a little less, then I don’t know what will.