When you were a kid, you probably loved to run; sprinting from one end of your yard to the other, playing with friends, making the most of being outdoors. Then when you became a teenager, running was no longer “cool”. You realized just how uncomfortable running is, and had no desire to put your body in a state of stress, leaving you with red cheeks and hair stuck to your forehead. Not exactly the style a teenager searching for who they really are wants to wear.
But look around the streets now, and you see runners everywhere, red cheeks and all. In their bright clothing and determined look, we see them on every stretch of road, even during strange hours, addicted to it, even if that means getting up at crazy times to get their run in while following a marathon training schedule.
So what happened?
Last you checked, running was still not enjoyable, and made your lungs feel like they were going to explode after only a few minutes.
You know it helps to maintain a healthy weight, and that is a reason to run, but why do people appear to actually enjoy running and how can you get in on it to discover what the runners high really means?
Well, here are 5 ways you can give running another try, to see if you can find the childhood form of running, rather than your teenage PE class cross country version of running:
It seems like the last thing you want to hear, right?
But hear me out.
I know what you are thinking, “SLOW DOWN?! I already run slow enough! It is not even possible to go any slower”.
Firstly, I am sure it is possible, and you would enjoy running a whole lot more if you did.
So how slow do you need to go to enjoy it?
Well, to the point where you can breathe in and out of your nose with your mouth closed. Or where you could hold a full conversation with a friend while running.
Even if that means taking walk breaks, there is nothing wrong with using the run-walk method, and every single runner can benefit from doing some runs that involve walking. Even elite runners complete intervals where they walk in between.
Find a friend
This one is going to make all the difference.
Have you ever been on the phone with a friend while you were doing housework?
Suddenly your chores don’t seem to take as long, and the time actually goes by pretty quickly. That is because when we are enjoying the company of a friend, and in a busy world where we never have enough time to spend with our loved ones, catching up can bring so much joy.
The same principle applies to running.
Rather than meeting a friend for a coffee and pastry, that is going to leave you feeling guilty for the rest of the day. Find a friend who runs already, they would LOVE to run with you, even if you think you are too slow and would be holding them back, I am pretty sure your friend would be SO excited that you want to start running, that they would run any pace you liked to get you hooked as well. Their mind is probably already 3 years down the road where you can run together every day!
Or you could find a friend who wants to start running with you, and make a pact that you will run together (and run so slowly that you can chat!).
That way you can catch up, and carry on with your day feeling proud, and with a more positive outlook about running.
Buy yourself some new clothes and running shoes
Running doesn’t cost much.
It is one of the most cost effective sports there are, but running clothes and shoes are still rather pricey.
If you spend some of your hard earned money on new clothes and running shoes, you will not want to waste that money, and it will get you excited to get out there and blend in with the other runners.
You will now feel like more of a member of “the club”, even though runners actually are very inclusive, and would encourage more runners to try it out, no matter what they wore.
This one works especially well for the ladies!
Sign up for a virtual challenge or race
In our connected world, there are all kinds of virtual challenges that runners can participate in to compete against friends, or keep them accountable. If you know you are going to be sharing your running on an app like Strava or MyFitnessPal, you are more like to stick to it.
Pretty soon you will surprise yourself with how quickly your fitness improves, and once you see that you can accomplish the first challenge, you will become addicted, and want to sign up for a real race (if you haven’t already).
This works really well for runners who are self conscious about their pace. This means you can get your body used to running at your own pace, without the stress of a race or knowing others are seeing you trying your hardest. You can pick what sounds challenging, but attainable to you, and stick with it.
You will soon find a community of runners that suits you, some of which may even be close to where you live, and become future running buddies for you.
If you do not think this online challenge would work, then sign up for a real race. Make it a few months away to give you enough time to build up and get ready, and just do it. Once you know you have a deadline, it will be easier to stick with it, knowing that if you do not, you might not make it, or will be disappointed with yourself.
Whichever way you choose, do not give up if you miss a day. Everyone has setbacks, and we all know that unexpected events may change our plans, but you can get back on track.
Running is all about consistency, so it is the sum of all the training days combined that will get you ready. Missing a day will not do you any harm, but just make sure you definitely get your run in the following day.
Listen to podcasts
Rather than listening to music, which can be motivating, but means that we tend to get caught up in the tempo of the song, and means you are less likely to keep it slow enough for what I mentioned in point one, a podcast is going to distract you, and make the time pass by much quicker.
What is a podcast you ask?
A podcast can come in many forms. It can be in a series format, where you follow a story, or it can be someone talking about a particular topic. There are thousands and thousands out there, about every topic you could ever imagine, so pick something you enjoy, and search for it on your iPhone or android.
You can download the episode, which means it does not even use your data while you are out running, and they last from 20 minutes to two hours in length, plenty of time to accomplish your run of every distance.
Runners Connect has a running podcast, which is an interview style podcast focusing on runners all over the world. If you are looking for some inspiration, listen to this episode with Dick Beardsley. It will change the way you look at running for the rest of your life.
You will find once you start listening to podcasts, you get hooked on them, and will be listening to them all the time about everything and anything.
Much like running, you become addicted!