Here are some fun facts…
Running is great for losing weight.
Running is excellent for your cardiovascular health.
Running is an inexpensive sport.
Running is a great way to get involved in your community and local charitable organizations.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any evidence to the contrary.
What you may have a hard time convincing people of, however, is this: running can be enjoyable.
Even if you’re just starting out.
Let’s be honest with each other… how many runners have happy looks on their faces when doing it?
Especially distance runners.
I mean, they look downright miserable half the time.
But whether your goal is to get in better shape, run a 5K or (dare I say it?) run a marathon or Ironman… I can teach you how to enjoy running.
This article will contain 9 seemingly simple tips for how to better enjoy running… everything you need to know to stop cringing and start smiling through those beautiful strides.
Infographic: 9 Tips to Better Enjoy Running
Want to stop looking and feeling miserable when you’re running? Take a look at the infographic below and learn how to better enjoy this exercise!
Tip #1: How to Enjoy Running by Setting Attainable Goals!
For a moment, think back to when you were a kid.
Remember when your mom used to look at the food left on your plate and say, “I guess your eyes were bigger than your stomach.”?
Translation: you took too much, thinking you could eat it all… then realized you were too full to finish.
Now, think about your running goals.
If you are new to running, would you wake up and say, “I’m going to run a half marathon this morning!”?
Maybe a half marathon is an extreme example, but… it’s akin to taking too much food onto your plate.
When you decide to make running an enjoyable part of your life, you need to be realistic and careful not to bite off more than you can chew.
Was that another idiom?
Sue me, I was an English major.
Start off with goals you know you can achieve.
And every few days, push yourself just a little bit further.
If you’re an advanced runner, you know better… you train properly.
But if you need a little help, there are apps to help you reach your goals… or you can simply do your research and write your own goals on a calendar, if you’re more the visual type.
Whatever your methods, the most important rule for how to enjoy running is this one: slow and steady wins the race when it comes to having fun.
Tip #2: How to Enjoy Running by Creating that Perfect
Personally, I cannot run in silence.
I need motivation.
I need goals.
If I don’t have a partner with me, I need that music blaring (preferably on speaker so I don’t get hit by a car).
Hey, my road is winding.
Some cars go fast.
Most running apps will manage a playlist for you.
Or you can make your own.
Some people prefer to run with google music radio or pandora… spotify or iTunes.
You can create a playlist for different run lengths.
Different days of the week.
Different run conditions.
For example, I like to start my warm up walk/run with a little Nina Simone “Feeling Good” or Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”.
Then segway into a little “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer.
The rest of the music changes with the run.
My go-to daily route, the one when I only have an hour or so to myself before I need to pick up the kids from preschool or run errands, is the same… so my list “narrates” that, if you will.
For instance, “Are We There Yet” by Big Bang Boom, is one of my kids’ favs… and comes on just before I’m about to reach the cell phone tower that marks the 1 mile point on my run from the house.
My playlist if very calculated… to push me through and cool me down. It even allows for short walk breaks in between run portions.
It works for me.
I dare say, sometimes even puts a smile on my face.
Creating a playlist that works for you will get you where you need to go… while maybe even having a little fun.
Tip #3: How to Enjoy Running by Embracing a Change of Scenery!
Ever see the movie Groundhog Day?
Bill Murray wakes up and finds he is reliving the same day… over and over and over again.
It drives him mad!
I can relate.
As a mother of four, my day is built around routines.
There is very little room or time for variation in our hectic schedule… but I do try.
I try to say “yes” to playdates.
“Yes” to putting my work down for a while and taking my kids to the park.
“Yes” to lunch with friends.
“Yes” to volunteering.
“Yes” to just chilling out on the deck with my family and skipping a soccer practice.
If I didn’t do these things, life could get boring at times… not that I’d ever categorize parenthood as boring.
But it is the little changes of pace that keep it interesting.
Ok, sometimes a wee bit scary.
But worth doing nonetheless.
Same goes for running.
If you find your routine monotonous… simply change it up!
This can be as simple as reversing your start and finish points.
Or you can hop in your car, or bike, and travel someplace new.
You can even go online and find new runnings trails.
All trails are reviewed and posted by real people.
People like you.
Treating yourself to a change of scenery once in a while is a surefire way to teach yourself how to enjoy running.
Tip #4: How to Enjoy Running by Running with a Partner or
If you find yourself having trouble staying motivated…
Are becoming frustrated with your progress…
Or making excuses for why you should skip a run…
It may be time to find yourself a running partner.
Quite honestly, if you were to ask most intermediate or experienced runners their secret for how to enjoy running… their answers would likely involve the word “partner”.
We don’t discriminate here.
Not unlike golfers who say they enjoy the comradery of the foursome, distance runners like company.
Having someone to talk to… push one another’s limits… provide encouragement… it’s priceless.
Also very effective.
In fact, I would wager a hefty penny that many people look to train for their first half or full marathon with a friend.
Partner. Spouse. Co-worker.
Well, first of all, it makes it less scary.
Second, it seems less daunting.
Third, there is no judgement because you start as equals.
Now, if you’re reading this and feeling sad because you don’t have a partner… or nobody comes to mind… fear not!
Websites, like buddy up, were created with you in mind.
Fitlink is another good one.
Think of it sort of like online dating… without the romance.
Or maybe you want that.
No worries… there’s a website or app for that too!
There’s an app for everything these days, isn’t there?
Running with a partner has so many benefits. Benefits that shouldn’t be reserved for distance runners.
Novice runners can benefit too, especially if they feel the need to be accountable for someone else… and vice versa.
It’s easy to skip a run if you’re going at it alone.
Especially when you’re first starting out.
Nobody cares… well, except for you.
Nobody knows your training plan… except for you.
But if another person is counting on you to be there for them… you’ll likely hum a different tune when contemplating bailing.
Like a pregnant woman eating for two… you are running for two.
Think about it.
You skip… they likely skip.
Maybe not tomorrow… but a day or two later.
Then again one or two days after that.
And now you’ve risked putting a kibosh on the whole partnership.
The first time you back out is the hardest… after that, it’s cake.
Don’t let yourself be cake.
Tip #5: How to Enjoy Running by Talking to Yourself!
They say that one is the loneliest number.
But hear me out on this: running by yourself can be amazing!
Very zen, in fact.
A chance for you to be alone with your thoughts… feel your heart racing… your breathing regulate itself.
On those shorter runs, especially… I feel that way.
Almost every single morning.
And, no, it’s not just because I’m hiding from motherhood.
These runs are much deserved, and very much needed, “me” time.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
Also, if I’m being honest, I have actually caught myself talking out loud… having a two-sided conversation.
And they have been some of the best talks!
Talking to yourself (and, no, it doesn’t have to be out loud per se) is a great way to reflect upon the day ahead.
Upon days past.
I feel inspired by my “conversations”.
They make me run harder.
They give me purpose.
The give me vision.
To be the very best version of myself that I can.
To push my limits… ever so slightly.
To be healthy for me… my husband… our children.
Nobody knows what I’m feeling when I run… except for me.
And my other me.
No judgement, remember?
But talking with (or to) yourself when you run can clear those cobwebs.
It’s like free therapy!
Just give it a try once and you may be surprised at just how therapeutic it is!
Sure, distance running alone can be tough… but those shorter training runs (less than 2 or 3 miles) can serve as an awesome opportunity to lift the fog and focus more on how to enjoy running.
Tip #6: How to Enjoy Running by Not Getting Hurt!
Don’t run with scissors.
Look both ways before crossing the road.
These are all good ways to protect yourself from harm.
For runners… well, all three still apply.
But, the BIG one is this: never run without stretching first.
One of the key ways for anyone to learn how to enjoy running more is to avoid injury.
If you don’t stretch properly… your muscles and joints may get mixed signals.
And when that happens, like with people, they may seize up.
Break down on you.
If you are serious about being a runner, and having fun, the last thing you need is a preventable running injury tripping you up.
Well, most are preventable.
Sometimes bad luck is a factor.
Ankle sprains, shin splints, calf strains, pulled hamstrings, runner’s knee, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, Iliotibial band syndrome, stress fractures, tendonitis, chafing and blisters are among the most common running “setbacks”.
The good news?
Most can be treated fairly quickly with a little rest, ice, stretching, braces or wraps.
The bad news?
You will be forced to rest for a few days… possibly even weeks.
And this delay in your training can cause a few problems, like:
● A significant decline, or few steps backwards, in your training plan
● Missing out on other activities
● Slight depression
● Complacency or a resolve to give up running
Let’s be honest, if the injury is serious enough, you may be out for a few weeks. Even a month.
If you’re a seasoned runner, maybe this is no great shakes. You’ll get back.
If, on the other hand, you’re a novice runner… this may just be the kind of thing to tempt you to give it.
Either you’re “running scared” now… pun intended… or you’re just allowing yourself to get used to life without running again.
Maybe you are filling your recovery days with biking instead.
Coffee with friends.
Whatever you’ve temporarily replaced your runs with may just stick… especially if you’re out of the runner’s mindset now.
If you are serious about running, and sticking with it, do all that you can to prevent the preventable injuries. Things such as:
- Replace your shoes -most shoes lose their cushioning between 250-500 miles
- Build up slowly – abrupt changes in speed, distance or terrain can lead to injuries
- Try interval training – this gradually gets your body used to more challenges
- Run on softer surfaces – grass, dirt, tracks and treadmills are more forgiving on the joints than pavement
- Marathon in moderation – stick to 2 or 3 half and/or full marathons per year to give your body a chance to properly recover
- Track your Mileage – 40 miles in a week is a good cap for most runners
- Incorporate Cross Training – working some lower impact exercises, like cycling or swimming, is a great way to keep your conditioned while giving your joints a break
- Lift some Weights – incorporate weight training into your routine to strengthen muscles, which will help your body absorb impact and protect your joints
- Eat a Balanced Diet – cutting too many calories can lead to fatigue and stress fractures, especially in women
- Schedule a rest day – this gives your body time to heal and rejuvenate itself, which will make your return to training more effective
Tip #7: How to Enjoy Running by Replacing the Music with
Not to beat a dead horse, but boredom can be a real killjoy when it comes to running.
So if you are serious about learning how to enjoy running, you should not be afraid to mix-up almost every aspect of your routine… every now and again.
If your playlist has become stale…
If your partner’s stories are becoming “old”…
If you are sick of waving to the same people and passing the same tree every day…
It may be time to rethink your run routine.
I may be onto something here.
A friend of mine recently told me she never gets time to read. Between work, kids, life, her workouts… there just aren’t always enough hours in a day to squeeze everything in.
And then she told me about audiobooks.
She downloaded and replaced her playlist for Where the Crawdads Sing, a New York Times Bestseller by Author Delia Owens.
Seems a bit much for a run.
According to my friend, however, it was just that.
Chock full of motivation!
A welcomed distraction.
She was able to focus on the story, even shed some tears, as she ran along her merry way.
Sometimes laughing out loud.
This audiobook became her running partner, as she was able to fit in two things she wanted to accomplish… at one time.
She was able to talk to her book club about it… without having to sacrifice another part of her day.
So, if you’re looking to mix things up… why not give it a whirl? There are tons of apps for downloading audiobooks.
iTunes also has audiobook players, as does Google Play.
Tip #8: How to Enjoy Running by Running Barefoot!
Call me old fashioned, but when I think of running… I think of sneakers.
But, what seems to be trending lately is the art of “minimalist running”… or barefoot running, as you may have heard.
Were the Flintstones onto something?
I often wondered about Fred and Barney’s calluses…
While it may seem daunting to the novice runner… and odd for those who are old hats at running… it allegedly has it’s benefits.
Among them are:
- May strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot… allowing one to develop a more natural gait.
- By removing the heel lift in most shoes, it will help stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscle… which may reduce injuries.
- Runners will learn to land on the forefoot rather then the heel. The heel strike during running was developed due to the excessive padding of running shoes, but research shows this isn’t the most effective natural running stride.
- It may improve balance and proprioception.
- Running barefoot can help you to stay grounded and connected with your environment.
There are some risks to going barefoot (even with minimal shoes).
Some of the more obvious ones include:
- Going barefoot or wearing a minimal shoe can be quite a shock to the foot and require a slow adaptation phase.
- Less protection from ground debris such as glass, nails, rocks, and thorns.
- Less insulation in cold weather – to protect the feet from frostbite in ice and snow.
- Can prove to be an initial shock to the feet, so muscles may feel overworked… which can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis or calf strain.
- The plantar surface (bottom) of the feet is normally soft and tender in most people. Thus, barefoot running may initially cause plantar pain and increase the risk of plantar fasciitis.
- Blisters for the first few weeks until calluses have a chance to form.
Also, if you have no existing issues or pain, do you really want to poke the bear?
All reasoning aside, I am curious about the people I see doing this.
And, if you’re looking to add some spice to your runlationship (see what I did there?)…
This method may be worth the madness.
If nothing else, you’ll look like a real badass to passers by!
Just don’t tread lightly… do your research, shoe or no shoe, and start out slow.
Tip #9: How to Enjoy Running by Channeling your Inner Gump!
Life is full of it.
So why not teach yourself how to enjoy running again by removing some of the stressers?
Seriously, who is to say that you need to run 2 miles on Tuesday, walk/run on Wednesday, bike on Thursday… yada, yada, yada.
I mean, besides you?
You’re not a kid anymore.
You parents aren’t telling you what to do or when to do it.
Aside from what absolutely needs to get done, you are ultimately in charge of your day.
Running should not be cause for more stress.
In fact, it should be just the opposite.
In the classic movie, Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks’ character runs cross country… for no reason other than he “just felt like running”.
He wasn’t dressed for it.
He didn’t have hydration or food for sustenance.
And while that is completely impractical… and I don’t suggest doing that… there is a point to be made here.
There is nothing wrong with running “just for the heck of it”.
Just get up, put on your shoes, stretch and go.
No distance tracking.
Whatever happens, happens.
Give yourself a chance to enjoy running in its purest sense.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be the fastest… or run the furthest.
Make one, or two days, just about the run.
Make it about you.
You may be pleasantly surprised at how freeing it feels to escape the Fitbit society… even if just for a little while.
Final Thoughts on How to Better Enjoy Running
Anybody can learn how to enjoy running.
It isn’t rocket science.
You simply have to put in the effort to review your routine and see what is working… and what isn’t.
If you’re just starting out… you may not have experienced the “itch” yet.
In fact, you may be perfectly happy with how things are going.
So think of these tips at little notes to keep in your back pocket… for if and when the day comes when things are starting to get stale.
If you’ve been at this awhile and were starting to lose hope… extinguish that spark… then perhaps I’m just in time!
Try out one, two, all of these tips as needed… and I guarantee you will learn how to enjoy running once again.
You’ve got nothing to lose… except for the monotony.
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 25 years. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications and blogs.
She is an avid runner and incorporates walking, hiking, golfing and kickboxing into her weekly workout routine to keep things fresh and maximize calorie burn. She lives in the beautiful Sourland Mountain area of New Jersey, which offers many challenging and scenic trails.