So you hear these wonderful things about running and you give it a try…
…only to find out how much you hate it.
You want to do it but you just feel miserable during and after a run.
And then you wonder – how the hell can someone love this dreadful thing? What is there to like about it?
Sounds like you?
Read on to know how you can stop hating to run – and actually love it.
1. Slow Down
Everyone wants to run fast. But if you are just beginning and your plan is to break a world record… it’s not going to happen.
In fact, it’s going to make running painful, miserable and absolutely unenjoyable.
Start with really slow running. The pace should feel comfortable. You should be able to talk (conversational pace).
If you’re breathing hard… slow down. Take walking breaks between your runs, if you feel like it. It’s perfectly OK.
In fact, many couch-to-5K programs are designed this way.
Let your body get used to it first. Let it get stronger. Speed comes later.
2. Don’t Push too Hard
Pushing yourself harder than your body can handle is a perfect way to make running painful. This is also a good recipe for getting injured.
You’ll enjoy running when your joints are strong enough to handle the load of running… When your heart can pump out more blood with each beat… When your lungs are powerful.
You need to give your body time to get used to running. And once you do that, You’ll realize, it’s not that bad after all. And then you’ll be able to push yourself.
Know your limits. Listen to your body.
3. Set Small Goals
When starting out, set small, tangible goals.
For example, you could aim to run for 30 minutes without stopping. Or complete a 5K. Or you could simply aim to run six days a week.
Just make sure to build up to your goal slowly. And once you achieve it set a bigger one. A 10k for example. Or you could try to improve your time.
This way running becomes like a game. And you enjoy the process of advancing to higher levels.
4. Be Consistent
As you get fitter, running becomes more fun and less of a chore. But if you stop for a long time, you lose your hard-earned fitness.
To begin again, you’ll have to go through it all again. One more time.
It doesn’t sound like fun. Does it?
Consistency is the key.
Don’t quit, unless it’s an injury, run continuously.
Even if you get injured, you can still do other low impact activities to keep some level of that fitness. Cycling and swimming are two good options for this purpose.
Related: Follow These 5 principles of training to Become a Successful Runner
5. Get Yourself Proper Running Shoes
Run in the shoes that are made for running. Not any other shoes.
Running shoes have cushioning that protects you from the landing shock.
Keep in mind, when choosing running shoes, the most important thing is – comfort. Also, get at least a half or even a full size bigger than your regular shoes.
6. Sign-up For Races
Signing up for races will give you a goal to work towards. It will keep you out.
Sign up for short races at first. Pick a plan. And follow it.
In the beginning, just completing a race – regardless of the time – will give you a confidence boost. Next time, try to beat your personal record.
Also, you will see all sorts of runners at running events, which will motivate you to stick to running.
7. Record Your Runs
Being able to see your improvement over time is a huge motivator.
You can buy a GPS watch to track your runs. Or optionally you can use the activity tracking mobile apps. I recommend using Strava and/or Nike Run Club.
8. Run the Right Way
Have you seen elites running? They seem to be gliding effortlessly. Their movement is so gracious.
That should be the goal.
Good running form helps big time. It helps you avoid injuries; so you can train more consistently. And it also makes you more energy efficient.
Think light and smooth, when you run.
9. Always Run With a Purpose
Know what you are doing and why you are doing it. It’s important to understand why you are stepping out on a particular day.
What is the purpose of your run? Is it building endurance? or speed? or is it recovery?
This will keep you focussed. And you will avoid training hard on your recovery day. You want to keep your easy day easy; and hard days hard.
Save the intensity for the hard days.
10. Learn Training Basics
Learn about periodization.
The first thing you need is a solid base. It’s the foundation that prepares your body to handle the stress of harder training that will come ahead.
Then you will need to follow a plan to peak for your goal race. Then comes the recovery phase. So you recover properly and start over.
I’ve posted a guide on how to start running properly. it covers all these topics, so check it out.
11. Join a Running Group
If you like to socialize, find a running group near you. Running with people of similar interests will make it – an enjoyable experience for you. And you’ll also learn something new from the group members.
12. Mix it up
There are other types of training that can help you become a better runner. Adding these workouts to your training also gives you a variety.
Strength training, plyometrics, swimming, cycling are some good options.
It’s also important how you approach supplementary training. If it helps you become a better runner, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t waste your time on it.
13. Run Somewhere New
Pick different routes occasionally. Flat courses, hilly roads, parks, tracks all give you great variety.
If you travel, run there. Exploring the places you have never before will make running more interesting.
14. Hit the Trails
Running is a great way of connecting with nature. The chirping of birds, the rustling of leaves, the fresh air, the pleasant smells will calm your mind and refresh your soul.
15. Run in the Rain
Wait until you run in the rain…
There is something magical about it. Splashing through the puddles will bring out the child inside you.
You’ll also feel like running faster and longer as rain naturally cools down your body.
16. Reward Yourself
Hit a small goal?
Get yourself new running gear. Or celebrate with a beer! You deserve it.
17. Run With Music if You Like it
Run with music, podcasts or audiobooks – whatever you like. It can help you enjoy running, especially your long runs.
Just make sure it’s not very loud. You must be aware of what’s going on around you. It’s good practice for safety.
18. Lose Weight
Every kind of exercise, not just running, sucks when you are unfit.
The extra weight you’ll have to carry on your runs makes you use more energy. Plus your joints will have to cope with the extra pressure.
Pay attention to your diet. Run at very low intensity (walk-run-walk) and you’ll be on your way to better fitness.
Once it improves, you will find running, or your day-to-day life for that matter, a lot more enjoyable.
So get rid of that unnecessary weight.
19. Run Early
There is something about getting up early in the morning. Getting up and running while most of the world is still asleep – feels good. So get up and run when everything outside is new and fresh.
20. Run a Lot!
If you run only once or twice a week and expect to love it; you are wrong.
It isn’t just enough.
The more you do it, the better you get. The better you get the more you enjoy it.
Elite runners run a lot. 160 km per week or more. Most of that is easy running mind you. I’m not asking you to run that much. There are a lot of things to consider. How much time you can spare, your goals, your training history and more.
Elites have endurance built over many many years. That’s the reason they are able to maintain that kind of volume without getting injured.
So target a certain weekly volume that you are comfortable with. And work toward it… Slowly.
21. Join Running Groups on Social Media
Whatever you are going through, be it misery or euphoria; there are a bunch of other runners who are experiencing the same things.
Join running groups on Facebook or other social media sites. Runners post about their daily workouts and their achievements. Seeing stuff like that will certainly give you a kick.
22. Run For a Cause
Of course, running is great for yourself. But it can be a great way of giving back to society.
There are many charity races organized every year. And you can play your part by participating in them. This way you can raise awareness and support the causes that matter to you.
It will give more meaning to your running.
23. Read Books
If you are a book lover, there are some amazing books out there.
You can learn about running with training books. And there are also some fiction books that will inspire you.
People start running for many reasons. Some want to lose weight. Some run for general fitness. And there are competitive runners of course.
Many, if not most, become addicted to it. They become unhappy when they don’t get to run.
Running is amazing. It’s meditative. You get to be with yourself. Away from the distractions of everyday life. It’s your time.
And the best part is, you can get away with the least amount of equipment. Unlike other sports. You can run anywhere you want. You can run solo or with a group.
But people are different. If you can’t love running, no matter what you do, choose a different sport. There are a bunch of great options. Pick something you love and stick to it.
Give running a fair chance though. I’d recommend trying it for at least 2-3 months. 3-4 sessions of about 30 minutes each, per week.
So give it a go. Train smart. And have fun!