You all know people who hate running. People who say things like "I only run if something is chasing me."
You may be one of those people.
That's okay. Running is a sport that grows on you. Heck, even the idea of it being a sport may have to grow on you. I know it did for me.
For some reason, lots of people are trained from a young age that there is something punitive about just putting one foot in front of the other for no other reason than to put one foot in front of the other.
Look back at middle school or high school PE class--I know, we’re dredging up horrible memories--but bear with me. What did you have to do if you had to be punished or reprimanded? You had to run laps. What if you played a sport and either did something really wrong or showed up late? You had to run laps.
Running doesn’t have to be a punishment. In fact, running is awesome. Running is fun. In my eyes, thinking of running as some kind of punishment would be like considering eating ice cream for breakfast as a punishment. It all depends on your perspective, of course, but if you’re the kind of person who sees running as a boring, mindless chore where you slog forward for miles on end, try these 3 strategies that can add a little spring to your steps.
1. Jam Out
One major way you can make running more than a sweaty slog is to pop some headphones in. There are lots of amazing streaming services out there that let you choose a genre of music or set a specific playlist to jam out to while you pound the pavement. You should aim for songs that have around 180 beats-per-minute (bpm) to help you keep up the pace.
Some days aren’t music days. Sometimes the constant shuffling of tracks can be more distracting than helpful. On those days, it’s awesome to open up iTunes and set a podcast to streaming and listen to some folks teach you something or talk about your favorite new movie. You could even load up an audiobook and listen. It might not be as motivating as a 180 bpm pop song, but being able to fall into a story will mean you zone out, enjoy your run, and catch up on all those books you’ve been meaning to read!
2. Make Some Friends
Depending on your take on it, running is either a social sport or a solo one. If you’re finding it hard to hit the trails alone, grab a buddy! The running community--both online and in-person--is amazing. Runners tend to accept newbies with open arms, and the community is so inclusive that no matter what your preferences are, I guarantee there’s someone out there like you who will want to talk about it.
Even if you’re a solo runner, being able to finish up a run, take a selfie, and start chatting with other runners online makes it so much better. I’ve had people make me hand-crafted motivational signs to get me out the door, send encouraging private messages, and even take time out of their days to see how my run went. It’s awesome, and making new friends is fun.
Most cities have running clubs that host races and events. And if races and competitions aren’t your thing, look for themed events like Beer Runs (just Google that term--I bet you’ll enjoy running then!) or even gaming groups who play board games after a few miles.
Remember, the fun in running doesn’t always have to be from the part that makes you sweat.
3. Do Whatever You Want
Really. Just do whatever you want. Running is, above all, movement. And moving is fun.
Being told how to move? Not so much. A lot of the fun in running comes from the freedom to experiment and see what you’re capable of. Just move around and do what you like. So many people get wrapped up in competition and racing that they forget the simple joy of just moving around. Running doesn’t take a lot of prep work or equipment--just shoes and feet.
Do you like to run fast? Sprint until you bend over and gasp for breath, catch your breath, and do it again! Do wind sprints or hill springs.
Do you like to run slow? Long runs are a staple of any runner’s skill set, and it takes practice to make yourself keep the right pace for a long time.
And what if you hate training or thinking about running as a sport? What if you just like to move, to be outside, to enjoy the sun on your face and the wind in your hair?
Then just run! Go out, run when you feel like it, see what you can see. Take walk breaks when you want to walk. Run when you want to run. Run where you want to run. The most fun thing about running is that there are no real rules. Whatever works for you is how you do it.
B.J. is a certified personal trainer from the American Fitness Institute and holds a Master’s degree in English. He is currently training for his first marathon. He’s also a geek who has lost 155 pounds. He wants to teach other geeks and nerds how to live healthy, fitness-oriented lives. You can find more of his work on his blog Geek Fitness.
Main Photo Credit: lzf/Shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com; and Final Photo Credit: lzf/Shutterstock.com.