I have been an athlete all of my life, and have enjoyed a healthy lifestyle, but I just wasn’t born with the running gene. In middle school, I dreaded the mile run and counted down every last lap. In high school I started running to get in shape for tennis season. I hated every minute of it. It wasn’t until recently, as a full-grown adult, that I truly started to appreciate the activity. What changed? My attitude. I changed my outlook on running in a way that made me feel like a champion simply for lacing up my running shoes. Here are 8 tips that can help you learn to like (maybe even love) running too.
Accept your “newbie” status.
Not being able to run a mile the first time you attempt it is perfectly normal. And, I promise no one is judging you for it. In fact, you should be proud of your effort. You’ve got to start somewhere, so accept your newbie status and plan to take walk breaks on your first few jogs. Give yourself time to build up your endurance and distances.
Unless you’ve got a sponsorship deal with a major sports brand, or you are trying to qualify for a marathon, running fast isn’t really necessary. In fact, it might be preventing you from actually enjoying your run. Try running slower, at a pace that allows you to speak in full sentences, and see how your body reacts. Your breathing should feel more natural, your joints won’t start aching as quickly, and you might even find yourself smiling out there.
Set small goals.
See that fire hydrant at the end of the sidewalk? Run to that, and then pick your next target. Creating small goals within your workout keeps it interesting, and reaching those achievements can help you to keep pushing yourself. Today the next mailbox, tomorrow the finish line of your first 10K!
Enjoy some “me” time.
The kids aren’t around, your boss isn’t hovering over you—it’s just you, your running shoes and the road. Thinking of your run as “me” time will help you see it as a special event, one you’ll start looking forward to.
Find a running buddy.
If “alone time” doesn’t do it for you, find a friend to run with. You can encourage each other to get going, be there for each other on the hills, and gossip your way to the finish. And, having a plan to meet someone for a run can give you extra motivation to get out the door.
Make the miles matter.
When the personal benefits of running (weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, reduced stress, etc.) aren’t enough to get you to pick up your feet, consider running for a cause. Sign up for a 5K (such as Run for Your Buns) that raises funds and awareness for a nonprofit organization, or download an app like Charity Miles, which lets you earn money for a charity of your choice with every step you take.
Turn that music up!
Studies show that upbeat tunes can distract you from physical exertion and even get you to push a little harder. Songs between 120 and 140 beats per minute have the biggest impact. But, remember to be smart about your headphones—only use them in safe, low-traffic areas and keep the volume at a level that allows you to hear what’s going on around you (and protects your eardrums).
Track your success.
Feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Try logging every run with an app like MapMyRun, RunKeeper or Runtastic. You’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve gone—and how much faster you’ve gotten along the way! Keep track of your routes and see if you can do the neighborhood loop faster next time, or increase your distance by tacking on an extra block or two.
At the end of the day, each of us is different and our motivators are, too. But, if you’d like to get out of your running funk, I encourage you to try a few of these tips and see what works for you. You might just find your running gene after all.