I have a long, strange relationship with running. I started my running career in junior high on my school’s track team. From then through college, I was on the track team, but I wouldn’t call myself a runner. I was a sprinter.
Okay, so yes, I was a runner because I did run, but sprinting and long-distance running are nothing alike. I rarely ran more than 1-2 miles at a time, ever, until my senior year of college. That year we got a new track coach with a philosophy of higher mileage training, even for us sprinters. It was quite a change and I can’t say I liked it very much. But even then, I only had to run distances longer than two miles about once a week for part of the season.
As a sprinter I did a lot of interval and high speed training. Long and slow and especially long and fast didn’t register in my brain. So after college, I was in a bit of a conundrum. I had to turn my fitness into something I did to stay in shape and be healthy rather than training as a part of a team.
I found it boring and almost pointless. To not be training for something took the fun out of it for me. I decided to look into running road races. Unfortunately, you don’t find many 400 meter weekend races out there, so I was forced into longer distances.
I found a running club that I ran with once or twice a week and that helped as I loved the team atmosphere and having a “coach” tell me what to do. But I always felt like a bit of a running outcast. I couldn’t consider myself a real runner because I wasn’t a distance runner and had no experience with racing long distances. It’s silly, I know, because anyone who runs can call themselves a runner whether they race or not, but that’s how I felt.
But probably the biggest reason I felt like an impostor was because I didn’t really love it the way the other runners seemed to love it. It was so hard.
The thought of running a tempo run made me sick to my stomach. I have speed but am not-so-great in the stamina department, so trying to maintain a faster pace for a long time is torture for me.
Since then, I’ve run in a lot of road races, but still don’t feel like I’m a legit runner. I sometimes struggle with liking the idea of running more than running itself. But over the years there are parts of running longer distances that I’ve come to love. There are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along my journey that have helped me like running more than I ever thought possible, so I thought I would share those with you today. Here’s the Non-Runner’s Guide to Liking Running (or at least not hating it). Do some of these things and you just might find yourself hating running a little less.
1. Loud music. Loud is key. Some people swear by podcasts or audiobooks, but for me, it’s all about music.
2. Outstanding playlists. Try some of these songs.
3. Getting into running shape sucks. Like worse than anything in the world. Remember that you won’t love it or even like it a little until you’re into decent running shape. Get past those first few weeks it takes to get over the hump. Don’t give up before you’re there or you will never know.
4. Switch up your routes. Don’t let yourself get bored of the same scenery.
5. If you must run on the treadmill, try interval workouts to help fight the boredom.
6. Invest in comfortable running clothes. You’ll feel better about yourself if you at least look the part and there is nothing worse than having to fiddle with your shorts 17 bazillion times on a 4 mile run. Trust me, running in clothes that are made for running is so much better.
7. Use a running app such as Nike+ Running. It helps to know your pace, how far you’ve run, etc. You can challenge yourself to improve each run and that’s always motivating and more fun than not knowing.
8. Use running as a time to de-stress. Don’t think about the run itself and it will go by so much faster. Think about it as your alone time. Your time to have your thoughts to yourself and no one else to attend to.
9. Set realistic goals and reward yourself for reaching them.
10. If you need to stop and walk, do it, and don’t think that makes you less of a runner.
I know I have a lot of readers who love running naturally, and obviously this post is not for you. I applaud you. I even envy you. These tips are for those of us who have to work a little harder at liking running. Happy running, everyone!
Running: Do you love it or hate it? Please share your tips in the comments for how you have learned to like running more!
Thank you to rosiepiter.com for the use of the runner silhouette image.