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I hated running. I know hate is a strong word, but it’s true.
I couldn’t fathom how anyone could possibly enjoy such a torturous exercise. Back in my high school days on the softball team, I remember trying to convince my teammates to all slow down during a warmup run. They all just shook their heads at me like I was the saddest, laziest person.
Everything seemed to hurt when I ran- my throat burned, my legs throbbed in pain, even my shoulders ached! Plus, it was so boring. I did not get the allure of doing the exact same thing over and over for an hour… or even
30 minutes 10 minutes.
The real shame is that I desperately wanted to enjoy running. I wanted to be able to head out the door, run around for a few miles, take in the quiet while getting a good workout in at the same time. It seemed so simple, but oh so awful.
So, how did I go from utter distain towards running to running in my first half marathon this past November?
Let me share with you the ways I turned my hate for running into love.
How to Love Running when you Hate it
1. Take it slow
Back when I was a hater I would periodically try to “go for a run” in hopes that this time I would enjoy it. Every one of these times, without fail, I would start off strong only to end up gasping for air. I would glance at my watch thinking, hoping, surely I ran at least a mile only to be disappointed and a bit ashamed at a measly .2 miles. What was I doing wrong? Why do other runners make it seem so effortless?
I realized that I was going too fast… way too fast. If you start slow, you can always pick up the pace as you go along. If you start out too fast, you’ll end up out of breath and discouraged. I really like the advice in this article from Runner’s World– you should be able to hold a conversation, but if you can sing you are going too slow.
2. Follow a program
It’s one thing to tell yourself not to go too fast and another thing to actually do it. There are some really great programs out there that help force you to slow down to the right pace. I really like the Couch to 5K program. I know so many people follow this program successfully. The Couch to 5K program forces you to slow down by mixing up your running with walking. By the end of the program, you’ll be able to run an entire 3.1 miles. They even have an app that’ll tell you exactly when to run and walk.
3. Set a goal
Another reason I like the Couch to 5K program is because there is an end goal. Initially, I couldn’t understand the point of running. Well, when you sign up for a race you have something that you are working towards. There is nothing like running and completing your first 5K. You feel so accomplished.
I should warn you though. Races can be quite addicting. I would have laughed in your face a few years ago if you told me I was going to run a half marathon. Yet, once you run 3 miles, 6 miles doesn’t seem that far; until the next thing you know, you’ve signed up for a full marathon. I’m not quite there yet, but I definitely wouldn’t laugh at the idea of running a marathon. Check out Active to sign up for races near you.
4. Don’t just run
I think mixing it up is an important aspect for all things in life. While fruit is great for you, I wouldn’t recommend only eating fruit. A balanced diet is a healthy diet. The same goes for running. I suppose you could use running as your only form of exercise, but it wouldn’t be as good as mixing in other forms of exercise. Plus, too much of just running is certain to earn you a ticket to injury-town. I would know, unfortunately.
American Running Association has a great article that emphasizes the benefits of cross-training (i.e. exercises besides running). I find that I run easier and faster when I include other forms of exercise, especially weight lifting. You want to make sure your muscles are nice and strong to withstand all that pounding your joints can take on a run.
5. Bring a buddy
The first time I ran with another person I was a bit nervous. Even though they were a friend, I was worried. Will I run too slow? Will I talk too much/too little? By the time we had finished three miles, I couldn’t believe it. Honestly, it was the easiest three miles I had ever run. We chatted the entire time and it made the run just fly by.
So, try to grab a runner partner if you can. If none of your friends are interested, you can check out a local running store for running groups or even find a group on Meetup.com.
6. Take in the peace and quiet
Even though I absolutely love running with a partner, for the most part I find myself running alone. Before I head out for a run, I take the time to plan out things I want to think about in my head during the run. I know that may sound really strange, but it helps keep me distracted. I plan out upcoming blog posts or go over the calendar in my head.
Other times though, I just try to clear my head and take a break from all the normal, everyday craziness. It can get pretty noisy entertaining a toddler all day long, so a long, quiet run can be so refreshing and peaceful. Think of it as a break.
7. Change up your scenery
I’m usually in a hurry to get my run in so I often stick to my normal route in the neighborhood. Every so often it’s nice to change things up. If you know that you are the type of person to get bored with the same route, try something different. See if there are any trails nearby (it’ll be easier on your knees than the pavement). Head to MapMyRun to find some running maps and routes near you.
8. Practice good form
There are a lot of opinions and ideas on what is considered proper running form. It can all get a little confusing. Plus, there’s not enough research to suggest that any one type of running form is the best to avoid injury. I do have to say though that there is one thing that certainly helped me- relax.
Previously, my shoulder would always end up so sore about halfway through my run. I couldn’t understand why. Then, I read somewhere that it’s important to relax your shoulders while you run. I also make sure to keep my elbows and hands relaxed. For more tips and strategies on proper running form, check out Runner’s World.
9. Make a great playlist
When I first got into running, I refused to wear headphones. I figured professional runners don’t listen to music, so why should I? Well, I finally realized that I am no professional. It’s not “cheating” to listen to music for motivation during a run. Do make sure not to turn the volume up too loud though. It can be a safety hazard if you can’t hear potential dangers.
10. Maintain balance
The major thing that got me into running did not have to do with running at all. It was another workout program- P90X. I was feeling good about myself about halfway through the program. I felt stronger and definitely more in shape. So, I decided to give running one more try.
I ran out the door, made sure to go at a nice, steady pace, and finished 2 miles without any trouble at all. I arrived back at my home with a huge smile on my face. From that moment on, I was hooked. I continued the P90x program, but ran on cardio days. It wasn’t long after that I signed up for my first 5K. The rest is history!
If you have another exercise program or workout that you love, don’t give it up just to run. If you love swimming, biking or zumba, keep it up. Those other activities will only help to make you a stronger runner. Again, a balanced exercise diet is a healthy one.