“Running is boring.”
“Ugh, I have to go running after work!”.
“I really don’t want to go running today.”
“I should take a day off, but I’ll go run anyway.”
If these thoughts have ever crossed your mind, then you’re not alone.
Running is hard, and at times, quitting might feel like an option—maybe the only option. But you know what, quitting is not the way to go if you’re serious about reaching your running goals.
One thing you can do to make sure you stick with your running routine, despite the negative thoughts, is to make your training more pleasurable. Easier said than done, of course.
Would you like to learn a few tricks that can help you more running more fun? Then you have come to the right place.
Here are 30 measures you can take to make running more pleasurable. Apply them to your training program and you’ll be able to add some extra enthusiasm back into your running routine.
1. Get the Right Gear
Want to make running more fun (or just less painful)? Get the right gear as it’s key for helping you avoid pain and injury. For instance, ill-fitting running shoes can lead to blisters, black toenails, and serious overuse injuries.
Clothing also matters. Essential items include breathable and waterproof shirts, pocketed leggings as well as clothing for different weathers.
To get the best (and proper) deal, I highly recommend going to a specialist running store, instead of a high street sports shop.
In most of these specialty 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.
2. Slow Down
Many beginner runners start off at a sprint, but quickly flame out. That’s the classic rookie mistake and the reason so many fall out of love with running.
So, how do you start the right way?
What I’d recommend you do is to alternate easy jogging and walking—say a minute of each. That’s what’s known as the walk/run method, and it’s the best way to get fit without getting hurt.
As your training progresses, adjust your intervals. Increase the time spent jogging while taking less and less time for recovery until you’re running for 30 to 45 minutes a session without panting for air.
Even then, don’t be hard on yourself. Make it a rule stick to a conversational pace. You should be able to hold a conversation with a training buddy without gasping for air.
3. Set The Right Goals
Before you start running or decide to take your running to the next level, you’ve to have an idea about what you want 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?
You have to know your goals then set the right ones. By doing so, you give yourself something to work toward— 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.
Once you want to take your training to the next level, make your goals more specific, like running a sub-30-minute 5K or completing a marathon race distance in less than four hours.
4. Reward yourself for the Tiniest Progress
Studies show that self-rewarding helps improve motivation—running is no exception. In fact, regardless of the habit you’re trying to build, getting your brain to link the pleasure of the reward with the activity makes it more likely for you to succeed. That’s a good thing if you ask me.
Your achievement DO NOT have to be big to call for celebration. In fact, rejoice in everything—even the tiniest progress.
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.
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 was a big turning point for me. That’s when I felt like a real runner for the first time in my life.
Just don’t sit around, waiting for the perfect race. Instead, go and register for that race—any practical race— in advance.
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.
6. Change up Your Running Routine
Another simple thing you can do to make running more fun is to explore a new running route. This will definitely spark drastic changes in your attitude and approach toward the sport.
Look up an open road, a new trail, or a state park—preferably where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. You should also keep changing your running routes on a regular basis—never let routine settle in.
7. Take a Break
Feeling a bit burned out? Maybe it’s time to put some distance between you and your running.
I know it’s cliché, but absence makes the heart grow fonder. If the time spent away from running doesn’t make you appreciate it, then it’s time to find a new sport.
8. Try A Running Streak
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not suggesting that you go running naked through a public place. That’s criminal behavior. I don’t want you to end up in jail because of me.
In the running world, streaking refers to 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.
Your streaking goal is simple: aim to run at least a mile every day for three months. As the weeks go by, add 5 to 10 minutes to your daily runs until you’re doing it for an hour or so.
As a rule, you should already be at moderately high training mileage before you start a streaking routine. This ensures that your body is well adjusted to increased load—or else, you’re risking injury and you don’t want that.
9. 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.
Here’s how to practice:
First of all, get into the right mindset: clear your mind, breathe deep, stand tall, relax your body, and set your intention on staying in the moment.
Next, focus on what you’re 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.
10. Give it Time
Making running more fun doesn’t happen overnight. It actually takes time, and trying to rush things out is never the path to a healthy and happy relationship. It’s a long-term commitment (with lots of ups and downs just like a real relationship).
Time will tell in the end. 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, and get the support you need.
11. Get a Running App
You can find tons of fun, cheap (often free) running apps you can start using right away to make your runs more fun. These apps not only track your runs, but also inspire you with music, provide valuable coaching, keep you safe, and so on.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Couch to 5K. One of the most popular apps in the running world. The C2K app is ideal if you’re looking to go from zero to a true runner. The app guides you through three 30-minute sessions per week to get ready for a 5K race within two months.
- Zombies, Run! This app turns your running sessions into a game that takes place in the middle of the aftermath of an apocalyptic zombie world. The app provides a series of stories and missions for you to listen to and complete as you run.
- Rock My Run. For music lovers, this app is a must. As the name implies, RockMyRun is an app that provides the best workout music so you can maintain your energy and keep up a rockin’ pace while running.
- This is one of my favorites. Runtastic has a more detailed approach to tracking and will record duration, elevation gain, distance, speed, calories burned, and more. It’s ideal if you’re a running nerd like me.
12. Run at Night
Yes, you heard that right. Maybe this is something you have never done, and not considering to do anytime soon.
Of course, be careful with —especially if you fear for your safety. To err on the side of caution, run in safe and well-lit areas while wearing reflective gear (even a headlamp if you had to).
You should also consider bringing a pepper spray or partnering up with a running buddy or group for extra safety.
13. Run Naked
Again, don’t get me wrong. What I mean is, run with yourself, and nothing else. Leave your music, GPS, and the rest at home so that you can focus on the workout.
This is going to be a new experience—especially if you’re a tech addict obsessed with performance metrics.
When running naked, you log the miles for the sake of the sport. You run for yourself, you compete with yourself.
14. Buddy Up
Another way to make running more fun is to train with a friend. In fact, training with a partner is ONE of the best ways to get you committed to your training program.
With the right training partner, you can explore new running routes, try out new running workouts, and gab about the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
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.
Ask around. Join a running club. Befriend other runners. Use online running communitiesto match yourself up with a suitable running buddy.
15. Watch TV on the Treadmill
Feeling bored on the treadmill? Try this.
Watching television helps make treadmill runs more fun. I tend to prefer humor shows for short runs and drama or police shows for longer runs.
Some of my favorite treadmill shows include:
- The Big Bang Theory,
- Amy Schmidt,
- BoJack Horseman,
- The Blacklist,
- The Flash, and
16. Listen to Music
I’m a big fan of music. The running music I choose depends on my mood. I usually pick different songs for different purposes: a high-energy playlist for faster-paced and interval workouts and a relaxed playlist for my recovery and long runs.
Science also agrees.
According to research out of the Brunel University in London, subjects who listened to music while exercising were able to run farther, swim faster, and bike longer than usual.
To get the most out of music, look for songs with the right tempo and groove. I recommend playlists organized by BPM (beats per minute). Apps like Tempo Run and RockMyRun are fantastic for helping you do that.
17. Try a Podcast
Not a fan of music? Try a podcast.
You can find plenty of running-related podcasts on the web by just doing a simple Google Search.
Also, feel free to listen to other types of podcasts covering a broad range of topics.
My favorite is the 4-Hour workweek blogger Tim Ferris. He talks about all things fitness, health, adventure, finance, startup, business and everything in between. Audiobooks are an option, too.
18. Try Fartlek
Fartlek is a Swedish training term that means “speed play,” and it’s all about performing sprints while following no specific structure
Here’s how to do them?
After a proper warm-up, sight an object in the distance, whether it’s pole, a car, a cat, a person, or the end of the block then sprint to it as fast as you can. Once you reach it, slow down, recover and sight the next object.
Keep doing it until you can’t do no more.
19. Add Bodyweight Exercises to your Run
This is not only a fun way to change up your runs, but it can also help you build both strength and stamina.
Add bodyweight exercises to your run by performing do-anywhere moves, such as push-ups, squats, lunges every 5 minutes you spend running.
This is like adding a CrossFit elements to your runs.
20. Try Hill Reps
Hill training is a crucial part of any running program—whether you are a recreational runner or an elite athlete. It builds power and strength like nothing else.
Here is how to proceed:
Locate a long hill that should take you at least five minutes to run up. Then after a 10-minute dynamic warm-up, run up the hill at a sustainable pace, turn around and recover on the way back down.
Repeat the cycle three to five times (or until you can do no more).
21. Smile While Running
I know it sounds awkward. But, research shows that faking a smile tricks the brain into releasing the good-feel chemicals, such as endorphins, and serotonin, associated with states of happiness and euphoria.
Not only that, research shows that smiling decreases recovery time from stress and lowers heart rate.
Here’s how to put it into practice. Build the habit of greeting every person you pass with a heartfelt nod, a good morning, or a big smile.
22. Do a Ladder Workout
This is another variation of the traditional interval workout.
A ladder workout is a well-known form of speed work interval workout in which you climb, down, or both in speed and distance as the workout progresses.
As a rule, run each interval a bit faster than the preceding one, then jog for 100 to 200 meters for recovery between each interval.
Here is how to proceed:
After a 10-minute dynamic warm-up, run 100m, rest, run 300m, rest, run 400m, rest, run 500m, rest, and so on until you can do no more. Then finish your sprint workout with a cool down.
23. Run to your favorite restaurant
Although I don’t usually recommend rewarding your hard effort by indulging in an unhealthy meal, this time, I’m making an exception.
To do this, pick a food or snack spot you’ve been dying to try, plan the running route, then run all the way there.
Or you can also prepare in advance (or order) a huge meal to feast on when you return home from your run.
Whatever you like the most go for it. Try to avoid junk food, opt for healthier or homemade food. My favorite: Indian food.
24. Try Motion Meditation
If you want to sense what it’s like to run with the mind and body in union, try meditating while logging the miles.
By doing this, you’ll be taking transcendental strides toward achieving a more focused and calm mind while running.
In fact, I do believe that the time you spend running is perfect for meditating because of the repetitive nature of the sport.
If you don’t know how to do this, then this post on Zen Running from Leo at the Zen Habits Blog. You can also repeat affirmative words or mantra during your run. Sometimes you just need to shut the world out and tune in with yourself.
25. Try Trail Running
Trail running is an integral part of any training program.
locate a nearby trail—preferably ones that cross waterways, mud, or rivers—and just get in there and run. You can also sign up for any mud run or obstacle race course.
For more on trail running, check my full guide here.
26. Try a New Running Form
Two of the most well-known techniques are the Chi Running and Pose Method alternative forms.
I have personally tried Chi Running, and it’s quite good—especially the keep yourself tall with a slight lean forward technique. Maybe it’s time you try it out and see for yourself.
27. Try a Running Breathing Ratio
Having trouble breathing properly while running? Try synchronizing your breaths with your foot strikes, in what’s known as rhythmic breathing.
In theory, breathing this way not only helps you stay more focused (and in the present) but may also prevent injury. That’s a good thing if you ask me.
Of course, the exact breathing ratio will depend, mostly, on your running intensity and fitness level, but for a beginner, I’d recommend a 2:3 breathing ratio pattern. This involves running for three steps on the inhale, then out for two steps. In for three steps, out for two steps… I think you get the big picture here.
28. Do a Negative Split
Instead of keeping the same level of intensity/speed throughout your run, perform the first portion of the workout 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than your average 5K pace.
Then, once you reach the halfway mark, speed it up, and run the rest of the distance 10 to 15 seconds faster than your average 5K pace.
For the last few hundred yards, go as fast as you can without fainting.
29. Join a Running Club
If running with just one partner didn’t do the trick, then join a running club.
These clubs are freaking everywhere, and chances you are already living near one right now. Most of these clubs also cost a few bucks a year and might organize a free event every now and then.
The competitive sprite of a running group can encourage you to push a little bit further and harder than you’d do when you go solo.