I get a lot flack about being a runner from those who are not blessed to have a deep love for the sport engrained into their very being. Mostly I’m sad for them but I believe running is something anyone can come to love! (although I completely acknowledge it is not for everyone…there are certainly sports I don’t enjoy that others do). But if you are up for learning how to like running, you’re in luck! My buddy, Maurine, has written a great article on the topic. Check it out!
Fans of running will tell you this: either you like running, or you’re doing it wrong. Liking running might not come naturally to you, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t grow into a form of exercise that you love and actually look forward to doing. Not a fan of running yet? Here are 11 ways to trick yourself into liking running.
Sign up for a race.
‘Are you crazy?’ you ask yourself when hitting the submit button on an online race registration. No—you’re just dedicated to giving this running thing a shot. Signing up for a race is a guaranteed way to motivate you to go on those runs you’ve been skipping.
Print a running schedule.
Fine, so you might not like running quite yet, but you know what you do love? Crossing things off of a to-do list. If you print out a running schedule and post it somewhere prominent, such as on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror, you’re sure to feel more motivated to get that daily run in—if nothing else, for the satisfaction of making a giant ‘x’ on your schedule when you’re finished.
Make a running playlist.
Try letting music distract you from the insane very little amount of pain your legs and lungs are feeling. Put together a list of fight songs that will keep you going at a steady pace and make you feel like you can conquer the world.
If you prefer to go sans headphones while running, you might try simply counting your steps instead. Give yourself a goal number like 1,000, and don’t slow down until you’ve reached that number. You might even change up goal numbers every time you reach a goal in order to keep yourself distracted.
Get running gear.
Even if you don’t feel like an athlete, dress like one. Who will know that you’re not a full-on runner just yet? Treat yourself to some high-end running gear, such as compression socks, a lightweight rainproof shell, and shorts that wick away moisture. You’ll look great, feel great, and feel more like a runner in seconds flat.
Invest in the right shoes.
Have you experienced running in true running shoes? The type that are made to be lightweight and performance-enhancing as you run? They make a world of a difference, and you might find as you run in them for the first time that they offer something your feet (and legs and joints) have been missing all along. Go to your local running supply store and talk to a shoe specialist. He or she will determine your pronation and specific support needs, matching you with the perfect shoe to make your runs go as smoothly as possible. And whether or not you ‘go barefoot’ is up to you. For more on the minimalist running craze, check out this article.
Monitor your breathing.
Many who are just getting into running don’t recognize the importance of actively monitoring your breathing until you develop a natural breathing pattern while running. You’ll often hear people say ‘in through your nose and out through your mouth’ when it comes to breathing during exercise; when it comes to running, however, your primary goal should really be giving your muscles the oxygen they need, and breathing through the nose here simply won’t cut it. Instead, practice diaphragmatic breathing, which is a type of belly breathing that goes deeper than mere chest breathing. In addition, you should ensure that you are taking your breaths at frequent, regular, and natural intervals as you run. Try breathing inward as you run two consecutive steps, for example, and then breathing outward over the next two steps, then repeating over and over for a regular breathing pattern. You might even count ‘one…two…one…two’ to yourself until you get the hang of it. You’ll be amazed at the difference that effective breathing makes as you run. Maybe improper breathing is what has been holding you back all this time.
Find your form.
A final note on the technicalities of running—proper form will boost your performance significantly and improve how you feel as you run. Try training your body to run in proper form naturally. Your foot should strike under your knee (not in front of it); you should be pushing up and off the ground behind you; your arms should be bent at 90 degrees or less; and your hands should be relaxed.
Let yourself walk.
If you stress yourself out over going the whole distance at full speed on every run, soon enough you’re going to dread even starting your runs. Go easy on yourself at the beginning and let yourself run for a minute or two when you get tired, resolving to start up again when you pass a certain lamp post or when the pace of the song picks up again.
Don’t forget rest days are an equally important part of your weekly running regimen. Take them. Use them. Enjoy them—you’ve earned them, after all. Relish in beautiful feeling of resting after a few days of hard work. And if you’re feeling extra indulgent, try treating yourself to a sports massage or a long, relaxed yoga session.
Find your favorite running fuel.
You don’t have to give up a love for eating to become a runner. In fact, running can help you to refine your palette and become more attuned to what your body is telling you that you need. Fuel your runs both before and after with the right nutrients, putting a focus on a combination of simple and complex carbs with some protein before your run, and then taking in something that is rich in carbs and protein after your run. Find workout snacks that appeal to you; even if you don’t like running (yet), a delicious post-workout snack could be just the motivation you need to keep yourself going.