Nothing burns my ears more then when I go for a run with my SO and midway through that cyclist-at-heart says, “I hate running” or “Running is so stupid”. (Sigh)
But at the same time I get it.
Running can be jarring, your legs feel heavy, your lungs burn, and it can even get boring. So what is it about running that so many people love?
Well a BIG part of it is the feeling of accomplishment, the coveted “runner’s high” (that some claim is a myth), and it’s the feeling of having more energy in day to day life.
Some love it for the simplicity of it; just you and your shoes. The feeling of being one with the road, the mountains, the air. Some even look at as being as integral to their life as breathing!
If you want to explore what all the hype is about, here are 15 tips to becoming a “runner”:
- Drop the Negativity: Whatever has caused you to feel ill towards the notion of running (it’s too hard, it hurts, it’s boring, etc); lose the attitude. First thing you need to learn is that running (and most endurance efforts) are just as much (if not MORE) mental than physical! So keep an open mind.
- Visualize: Picture the run – what you specifically want to achieve; a goal you would like to reach (big or small) and really embrace the imagery of accomplishing that goal. This point piggy-backs that “mental” component mentioned in number one, but it incorporates an emotional component of pride: where you can envision a goal and then achieve it.
- Leave wanting more: Start with a small amount of time, an easy pace, alternating walking and running. Ease your body into it. Let your hips, knees, ankles and everything in between get used to this new motion. And stop early. Leave knowing you could have done more; leave with a little hunger and motivation to get back out there again, for more. This may seem like strange advice, but if you give it your all and hurt yourself or are to sore to get out of bed the next day, you’re less likely to get into an actual routine and appreciate all that running has to offer you.
- Accountabili-buddy: It is generally safer and more fun to run with a partner. Whether it is a friend who likes to run or a new pal you meet through a running club or even your SO who also hates running. Additionally, assuming you want to get into a routine and may need extra motivation, it is great to have someone you can rely on who will support you and who you can motivate too!
- Make it Fun: For me I like to pretend my my runs are like a video game and different parts of the run (stop lights, bridges, etc) are check points. I’ll try to make it interesting also by varying the pace throughout too, it can be fun to mix it up.
- Sleeping in is Giving in: This is something I am still working on. I recently read that morning workouts can even help combat daily headaches. Understandably, this won’t always be a compatible option with your schedule, but there are benefits to your energy level and sleep to opting for that AM effort.
- The perfect playlist: Now this is a point that some runners will disagree with me on. I’ll agree there is certainly something to be said for listening to your breathing and being in tune with your body. That said, I love the excitement I feel from upbeat music and how it can push me to go for an extra mile or even three than I was planning to. The right tunes can elevate your mood and give you the edge you need to push your limits. Comment with your favorite exercise music, I always love new suggestions!
- Take the road less traveled: It is really easy to get sick of the same route. It is good to leave a route alone for a while and then revisit it so you can appreciate it again. The paths that I was so very sick of by the time I graduated high school are now my favorite parts of visiting home! It is also fun and interesting to explore new trails, paths, parks, etc. (But just a friendly reminder to keep your exploring to the day light hours – and always be aware of your surroundings too!)
- Grab some Swag: Now you don’t have to get expensive brands, but it can be fun and surprisingly motivating to grab a new neon or dry fit shirt to sport on your new trail exploring.
- Cross a finish line: If you feel like you might be ready, open up to the idea of doing a race. Many are actually fairly inexpensive. With Thanksgiving coming up, a 5K Turkey Trot is the perfect opportunity. Pinning on a race bib, bumping elbows with the crowd, crossing a finish line and enjoying a celebratory beer (or cider in my case) is a great way to get the most out of running. You get to feel like you’re a part of something – an inner club that only runners understand. Smile and pretend you’ve been doing it forever, you’ll fit right in because the true runner mentality says, “The more the merrier”.
- Treat yo Self: I am a huge fan of rewarding yourself for running. And what better reward than food!!! (You may even find that eating after running makes you crave healthier things! Go figure.) My favorite pairing is running and brunch! My varsity coach often incentivized early Sunday runs with a visit to Denny’s, YUM. The other day I even popped tater tots in the oven just before my run knowing they would be ready upon my return, and they were twice as delicious.
- Tweet, Gram, and Strava: Using social media and various activity tracker sights are a great way to both share your accomplishments as well as document your progress so you can look back on it later. My favorite means of tracking my activities is Strava – it’s an app most well known for cycling, but is awesome for running, swimming, and other sports too. People create segments within the Strava app so you can see your PRs (Personal Records) as well as where you rank amongst others! It’s also fun to share with friends on FB and IG pictures from your workouts. It’s just one more place to receive positive encouragement and reinforcement.
- Take care getting there: Listen to your body and give yourself the proper attention if you have aches and pains. Roll out with a foam roller, stretch, ice, and take slow recovery days as needed. If any pains persist, consider investing in a running shoe that fits your unique running gate/ foot arch/ etc. If something hurts, stop. While running can be great for overall health and wellness, you’ll end up resenting it if you land an injury that makes it hurt to even walk. There are tones of stability and stretching regimens out there designed specifically for injury prevention if that is a concern of yours. Feel free to comment below or contact me for specific advice on this matter!
- No Donut Holes: My old XC coach used to have us log our summer workouts in a packet he would hand out at the end of the school year. We would write the mileage for each day and put a big “O” on the days we missed. He called those Zero’s “donut holes”. “No donut holes” was likely just as much a subtle comment on eating healthy as it was a reminder to avoid those Zero days. Once you have one you’ll find it is very easy to have 3 in a row and then even go a week – before you know it you’re back to square 1. So if you can get into a running streak it will reinforce building the habit.
- YOU WANT THIS: In college while teaching Spin practices for my Triathlon team I developed the catch phrase “You Want This” that I would belt out in repetition as a (almost cruel) reminder that they came to the practice for a reason so they better give a meaningful effort. I imagine that if you are here that maybe on some level (even if it is deep within your subconscious) that you are actually interested in running! So if you do decide to throw on some shoes and go for a run, but 2 minutes in feel that it’s too hard, just remind yourself that – you want this.