Remember how easy it was to enjoy running as a kid? Hate how hard it is now?
A huge reason people stop running is that they just don’t enjoy it anymore. It’s also why we might not run as much as we should (or take 35 minutes to drag ourselves outside when we do).
Running is so good for us though: It comes with a whole host of health benefits. Knowing that doesn’t make it any more fun though, does it?
Whether you’re just in a slump or have taken a break, let’s find easy ways to enjoy running again, up our step count, and feel inspired for some sweaty cardio.
1. Get some inspo
First thing you should do is get inspired.
Then find your goal: run your first 5k, 10k, half marathon, or full marathon. Mix it up with some challenges or just remind yourself of why you run in the first place. Inspiration often leads to perspiration. A good goal could be the push you need to enjoy running again.
Unfortunately though, that inspiration only lasts so long.
2. Accept that (sometimes) running is hard
Sometimes the best way to have fun is to stop trying to have fun. When you accept that it’s hard (and stop forcing yourself to feel good about it), then you can begin to relax and actually enjoy running again.
Remember that whatever you resist persists. So if you don’t fully accept that it might be tough out there (and that’s ok), it might be a little harder to get out at all.
Remember what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger — taking on these challenges is what makes us better.
3. Run more often
Here’s the harsh reality though: 99% of difficult tasks are made easier if you just do them more often. The more you run, the more your body adapts and the better you get at it.
Of course no one enjoys being out of breath, panting and sweating when barely out the front door. So, the less painful we can make it, the more fun we can have doing it. The only way you can do that though is if you’re out that door 3-4+ times a week.
You need to run more and, from that practice, not only do you feel less pain, you allow yourself to see the more pleasurable parts of running. Building momentum is the most powerful fitness motivation there is, so you’ll be raring to go for the next one.
If you do anything (and you’re not doing it already), it’s run more.
4. Run Slower
Running doesn’t always need to be a race. You don’t need to go faster or be better than the last time. Use goals to inspire you but don’t make the run exhausting every time. Going 150% today could make you want to do 0% tomorrow. So, keep a balance and don’t go too hard too quickly.
This might be the root of why you’re not enjoying running — you’re just running too fast. So try easing up.
5. Have things to do while running
Whether it’s music, podcasts, listening to language-learning audio, or on the phone to your friend, remember you can listen to anything while you run. Music doesn’t need to be the only thing.
In this Runner’s World poll, 61% of runners said they listen to something while running. Why not join them? They’re doing it for a reason — it’s an enjoyable activity even outside of running.
This doesn’t work for everyone though. You might find that you lose focus and enjoy running less with something going on in your ear, so try adapting these little things to suit you.
6. Have a post-run reward
Want to be excited for when you get back from your run? Have something to look forward to then. It doesn’t have to be just pain and sweat when you go out — you can enjoy something nice at the end as well.
Reward yourself because who said you can’t have pizza or a big dessert after a run? In that same runner’s poll, 18% said that they treat themselves to pizza after their jog. So lie down, have a drink, and make yourself some pizza or frozen yoghurt. Positive reinforcement isn’t just for dogs.
7. Run in a group
Running in a group is a proven, effective way of getting yourself out the door.
There’s a reason people often outperform themselves on marathon day — adrenaline, focus, and being surrounded by 1000s of other people doing the same thing. You’re competing against everyone.
It’s even better if you’re running with someone else though. With a running partner, you can chat, laugh, and bond in the struggle together.
8. Obsess over the positives
Lastly, don’t forget that although running can be hard, it can be amazing too. Visualize yourself running a marathon. See yourself being your fittest, fastest, best feeling self.
Remind yourself of how good you feel after you’ve recovered from a run. Remember any sense of achievement or freedom, focus, or good feeling you get from running.
Just like post-run treats improve your brain’s association with running, so do your positive thoughts. If you go to sleep thinking of the best things about running, you’re more likely to wake up wanting to do it.
Change I can’t do this into Yes, I can. Then you’ll be out of bed or off the couch in no time.
Take home message
Running isn’t always easy but it doesn’t need to be a struggle either. Just change a few things to smash your habits of negativity and make running fun again. Remember to feel inspired, positive, and tinker with the way you’re going about your runs.
Then go put your running shoes on. What are you waiting for?