Do you think running is boring? Or hard? Or lonely? Even though these perceptions may keep you from lacing up your sneakers, it might be worth giving running another shot. Running is a great way to improve your overall health and well-being, strengthen your immune system, lower your risk of chronic disease, relieve stress, and improve your confidence and self-esteem. Plus, you can do it practically anywhere, without any special equipment other than your shoes. The truth is, a lot of avid runners didn’t love it at first. If you’ve tried running and just aren’t feeling it, try some of these tips to make it more enjoyable.
- Have an open mind. Maybe something from your past is getting in the way of enjoying running — like the high-school coach who made you run sprints as punishment. Or maybe you compare yourself to other runners and don’t think you measure up. But running isn’t about speed or skill. As long as you have the desire, you can learn to love it, whether you run one mile or a marathon.
- Don’t worry about speed. A lot of beginning runners get discouraged because they think they aren’t fast enough. But you have to build the aerobic endurance and muscle strength necessary to power your runs. Don’t torture yourself to try and hit an unrealistic pace — you could end up getting injured. Recruit a running partner and jog at a pace where you can carry on a conversation. Your pace will improve over time.
- Get an accountability partner. Speaking of running buddies, they’re great for holding you accountable and making workouts more fun. If you know your friend is waiting for you at the park, you’ll be less likely to blow off your run. Or try recruiting your spouse or significant other to run with you and get in shape together! Research suggests that couples who work out together have stronger relationships.
- Give yourself a goal. Start with something small — even if it’s just running one mile without walking. Every time you reach a new benchmark, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that will motivate you to keep going. Eventually, you may find yourself setting goals you wouldn’t dream of now — like signing up for a half marathon!
- Get outdoors. Are you always running on a treadmill? Switch things up by running outside when weather permits. The change of scenery will make things more interesting. And don’t always stick to the same path — try different parks or neighborhoods. It’s okay if you have to drive somewhere to go running. You may be surprised to find some new favorite spots in your own town!
- Create a killer running playlist. Put all your favorite high-energy tunes on a playlist that you reserve for running, and listen to it while you get ready for your run to get motivated. Research shows that exercise is more efficient when done in tempo with music. You can use music to help you set goals, too: figure out how long it takes you to run a mile, then create a playlist for that length of time and challenge yourself to finish a mile before the music ends.
- Join a running club. Local running stores often offer clinics and running clubs where you can find a buddy or go on group runs. It’s a great way to create some accountability for yourself and make new friends.
- Run for charity. Many 5ks or other organized runs benefit some sort of charitable organization. Pick some runs that benefit causes you care about, and recruit some friends to join you or donate money. Plus, paying the registration fee may motivate you to start training.
- Get social. Various running apps allow you to add friends, cheer each other on, and share your workouts on Facebook or other social media channels. You might be surprised to find that other people are experiencing the same obstacles and frustrations regarding their workouts. Just knowing you aren’t alone can be a powerful motivator.
- Track your progress. Whether you prefer apps or a pen-and-paper fitness journal, use some sort of tool to track your workouts. Include key data such as how far you ran and how long it took, as well as how you felt during and after your run. You might be surprised how much you see yourself improving over time!
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on April 25, 2017