“I can’t take this” “ I’m sick of running,” “Running is not for me,” “I can’t stand it,” “This is too much,” “Why I’m doing this?” “I hate this,,” “I think I’m gonna quit.”
If these thoughts have ever crossed your mind while running, then you are not alone.
Speaking to you as someone who has been running quite a lot over the last decade, I’ve had my fair share of those thoughts.
Running is hard, and at times, quitting might feel like an option—maybe the only option—especially if you are just starting out, suffering from a serious injury, or just completely and utterly bored out of your mind with your running.
In other words, falling in love with running is really a hard feat. But it’s worth the effort.
It wasn’t love at first sight
I have been running for the last 10 years, but I wasn’t born with an I-Love-Running gene. And truth be told, running for me wasn’t love at first sight.
In fact, I used to “not like” it so much (even hated it at occasions) when I took it up for the first few months.
As a result, today my dear readers, I wanted to share with some of the practical strategies and action steps that helped me fall in love with running and stay so for the past few years.
So are you ready?
Then here we go…
Image Credit – Celso Florest via Flickr
1. Get the Right Gear
Obviously, running requires a minimum investment. In fact, all you need is a pair of decent shoes, and there you go.
However, getting your hands on a few essentials is key for long-term success—especially once you start becoming a bit more serious about your training program.
The right gear is crucial for helping you avoid all sorts of pain and injury. For instance, wearing improper footwear can lead to blisters, black toenail, and serious overuse injury. So why would you want to go through that when all you need to do is get the right shoes for the job?
The other piece of gear that’s essential for running success is running clothing.
Wearing the right clothing that makes you feel good and comfortable while running so you can achieve more consistency with your training and be looking forward to every run. Some of the essential clothing items you’ll need include breathable and waterproof shirts, pocketed leggings, clothing for different weathers, etc.
So please, do invest in a good pair of running shoes and other running apparel and start feeling (and looking) like a real runner.
To get the best (and proper) deal, I highly recommend going to a specialist running store, instead of a high streets sports shop.
In most of these special stores, you can find expert staff (who are runners themselves) that can give you personalized gait analysis and set you off with the right gear, depending on your own needs and budget.
2. Start Slow
As we already know, love cannot be forced. So if you are really out of shape, then going for a 60-minute run from the get-go can be extremely overwhelming—and right down dangerous.
As a beginner, it’s vital that you stay within your fitness level; otherwise, if you do too much too soon, then you’ll definitely hurt yourself, which might lead to you growing disdain for the sport.
Therefore, if you’ve decided to take up running, you need to start slow and work it up gradually. Think of your first few runs as flirtations, short, thrilling and they should leave you craving for more.
There is no to rush it here, and it’s perfectly normal if you can’t run for 5 minutes the first time you start out—no one is judging you for it.
The best method you can opt for when starting out is the walk-run method—which consists of alternating between periods of low-intensity jogging and bouts of walking breaks.
For more on that, check my beginner running guide here.
3. Set a Goal
Before you start running or decide to take your running to the next level, you have to think about what you are looking to achieve: Do you want to lose weight? Are you looking to improve your 5K timing? Do you want to be a role-model for your kids? Etc.
You need to dig deep and know WHY. The Why may differ from one person to the next, but its impact is undeniable.
This is the golden principle that will serve as the foundation for everything else you will be doing.
By setting the right goals, you will be giving yourself something to work toward to, and will guide your training program and keep you heading out the door more consistently— even when that inner mind chatter suggests otherwise.
Just know that running goals don’t have to be that complicated. In fact, they can be as simple as running three times per week, or losing 15 pounds of fat within a specific timeframe.
Nonetheless, if you want more, then your goal can be more specific, like running a sub 30-minute 5K or completing a marathon race distance in less than four hours.
What I’m trying to say here, in a nutshell, is, regardless of your current fitness level and background, there is always a running goal for you.
You just have to find it, set it, and go after it.
Therefore, after figuring out your running goals (and fitness goals in general), sit down and write them down, then break them into mini-goals that you can manage one at a time without overwhelming yourself.
For more on how to set running goals, check this post.
4. Reward yourself for the Tiniest Progress
To go to the next step with your goals, be sure to review them and on a consistent basis and put in place a system of rewarding yourself each time you accomplish a mini-goal or reach a certain benchmark that’s taking you closer to realizing your ultimate goal.
Studies show that self-rewarding is crucial for increasing motivation and renewing enthusiasm for any activity—running is no exception. In fact, regardless of the habit you are trying to build, rewarding yourself and getting your brain to link the pleasure of the reward with the activity itself is of paramount importance.
Nevertheless, there is something you need to understand before we proceed here and here it is: Your achievement DO NOT have to be big to celebrate them. In fact, celebrate everything—even the smallest of all successes.
Hence, be sure to monitor your success—even the smallest and tiniest progress. Use apps like Runtastic, Runkeeper or MapMyRun to keep tabs on every one of your workouts. And the moment you notice the slightest improvement, reward yourself immediately.
Some of the best rewards include: taking a long nap, binge-watching your favorite show, buying a new running outfit, getting new shoes, having dinner out with a friend, spending the evening at the movies, etc.
Image Credit – Simon Thallman via Flickr
Running to get in shape is one thing. Training for a race is an entirely different experience. In fact, the first time I trained for a race—it was just a short 5K distance—was a big turning point for me, and I believe that it was what revealed the runner inside of me that I never knew I was.
So it’s really worth having a goal that’s way bigger than losing a few pounds, or doing a couple of runs every week.
However, don’t sit around, waiting for the perfect race. Instead, go and register for that race—any practical race— in advance. Signing up for a race and making the investment beforehand will definitely get you up and moving. And Once you have invested your money, you will be more likely to follow through and get ready for the big day.
What’s more? Keep in mind that if traditional race distances, such as a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or a marathon, don’t excite you enough, then you might need to sign up for some other form of competitive endurance events.
Luckily, there are plenty of other races to choose from: mud runs, obstacle races, trail races, or even go the extra mile—literally—with ultra distances, ranging from 50K to a 100-miler or more.
So there is something for everyone—you just have to force yourself to sign up for it, then do the work. And that’s it.
6. Buddy Up
If you lack affection for running, but you want to love the sport, then peering up with a partner might be the exact thing the doctor ordered. In fact, training with a partner is ONE of the best ways to get you committed to your training program and keep you accountable for your actions.
With the right training partner, you can explore new running routes and territories, try out new running workouts, and gab about the latest shocking episode of Game of Thrones while getting your workout done.
So please, keep in mind that there is plenty of roads to share. Ask around. Join a running club. Befriend other runners. Use online running community to match yourself up with a suitable and proper running buddy.
Just don’t be shy and do approach a lot of runners, and keep in mind that if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
7. Change up Your Running Routine
They say that variety is the spice of life—and this can’t be more relevant when it comes to staying in love with running.
I believe that varying your running settings can spark drastic changes in your attitude and approach toward the sport. The fact is, it is very easy to get bored with running if you are doing the same thing over and over again.
One thing you can change and see immediate results is your running route. If truth be told, running the same route day in and day out is the fastest way I can think of that will get you stuck in a running rut.
Conversely, picking up a new place to run is an awesome way to spark your love for your outdoor workouts.
As a result, look up an open road, a new trail or a state park—preferably where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, and keep changing your running routes on a regular basis—never letting routine to settle in.
In addition to changing your routes, make sure also to change your running workouts and your running approach more often. Hence, if you are bored with, let’s say, your long runs, then try something new. Hit the track and do an interval workout instead, or look up a steep hill and perform some hill sprints on it.
And in case you are bored with running or got yourself injured, then cross train. Go to the gym and lift some weights; join a Crossfit or a spinning class, or roll your mat out and do some yoga. You might also go for a long hike in nature; pick whatever you like.
If you are looking for more ways to change up your running program, then check my 23 ways article here.
8. Avoid Common Running Injuries
Runners get injured a lot, and that’s a real bummer. And if you get injured a lot, then this will often lead to more pain and might force you to grow a hatred for the whole sport.
Nonetheless, the good news about running injury is that they are often preventable.
Here are two things you can do to reduce the risks of injury while running:
Stay within your fitness level. This is the cardinal rule: don’t do too much too soon; otherwise, your body will start breaking down on you, and that’s not good. Therefore, be sure to run at your own pace and speed, and never try to match someone’s else.
Listen to your body. Keep a keen eye for any red flags and warnings signs of pain and discomfort—especially in your feet, legs, knees, and lower back. These warning signs could either indicate muscle soreness, an impending injury, joint stiffness, or a previous injury creeping up.
So please don’t persist with a training program when you feel pain and discomfort, regardless of how super goal-oriented and disciplined you think you are.
For more check my guide to running recovery here.
9. Take a Break
I don’t want to sound like a cliché, but as they say: absence makes the heart grow fonder.
As a result, if you are feeling a little burned out, it’s perhaps a good idea to put some distance between you and your running. If you are really meant to be running, it’s not going to be a long time before you start missing the pavement and looking forward to your next run.
However, if the time spent being away from running doesn’t make you appreciate the sport, then I don’t think running is for you for the time being.
And the fact is, recovery and rest days are just as vital as training days. Proper downtime can help your body repair and might fix a lot of things that were bothering you in the first place about running.
So if you are really at rock bottom with your running, then I suggest taking a break—maybe for longer than a week. Try a month, or longer. Of course, this depends on your fitness level and goals.
You don’t have to be your best running self and at the top of your running game every single day of the year. In fact, you are not perfect; running is not perfect; and no one (or any “thing”), is perfect for that matter.
10. Or Start Streaking
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not suggesting that you should start running naked through a public place. In fact, the kind of streaking I’m talking about has nothing to do with that.
In the running world, streaking is the act of running on consecutive days for a specific period of time, usually for more than a month or so. My longest streak lasted for two months, and that was a long time ago and was really a turning point for me.
So regardless of your fitness goals and motivation, streaking can be of great help.—especially if done correctly.
Therefore, I encourage to start a shorter streak, from two to three months, and that’s it.
Your streaking goal is simple: aim to run at least a mile every day for three months, And the weeks go by, try to add no more than 5 to 10 minutes to your daily run until you are running for an hour or so every day.
Nevertheless, before you start a streaking routine, make sure that you are already at moderately high training mileage, and that your body has well adjusted to the high impact nature of running.
And yes, be willing to take one day off every week to help with recovery. Proper rest helps your body repair and get adapted to the high impact; otherwise, ignoring proper recovery is paramount to flirting with disaster.
11. Stay in the Moment
This might sound like the type of advice you’ll usually hear in new age circles, but it’s not all bogus. The stuff works.
I mean, just think about it for a moment.
All there is the NOW. No past. No future.
Only the eternal moment of the NOW.
And by staying in the moment through the practice of mindfulness, you’ll be free from getting entwined in thoughts of the past, and no longer be worrying about the future.
Therefore, next time you go for a run, let go of your past failures and expectations and do your best to run in the now.
Here is how to do that:
First of all, get into the right mindset: clear your mind from everything, breathe deep, stand tall, relax your body, and set your intention on staying in the moment as often as possible.
Next, focus on what you are doing and your surrounding. Bring your attention to your gross motor movements, the temperature, the wind, the elements, and go through every one of your senses: smells, sounds, everything.
In other words, lose your mind and come to your senses.
That’s the state of mindfulness. Practice it. Cultivate it. And whenever your mind wonders, bring it back to the now.
Image Credit – Marco via Flickr
12. Give it Time
Falling in love with running doesn’t happen overnight.
As you already know, love takes times, and trying to rush things out is never the path to a healthy and happy relationship—especially with running.
Therefore, if you are a really serious about staying in love with the sport for long, then remember that it isn’t a fling; it’s a long-term commitment (with lots of ups and downs just like a real relationship).
In other words, running is a lifelong affair, period.
In the end, time will tell.
Therefore, if your current running routine is not working out according to your expectations, then give it time. Try out different things, change up your routine, reevaluate your goals, ask for help, get the support you need, etc.
Featured Image Credit – Christopher Grinner via Flickr