Do you think running is fun? Honestly, sometimes even I dread my daily run.
It can feel like a chore – a hassle that takes away from time better spent working, with your family, or sleeping.
And now that most of us are dealing with cold weather and the holiday season, running is even more of a challenge.
Who has the time?
Who wants to get up early the morning after your holiday party for a freezing run in the dark?
Running isn’t always an effortless pleasure. I understand, it’s tough. It can be hard. Motivation isn’t always high.
But there are ways that you can fall in love (or back in love) with running.
At this time of year, we all need a nudge to reinvigorate our running and remind us that running is a privilege. A joyous celebration of our vitality, health, and fitness.
I’m thrilled to present you with a new article by guest writer Kayla Matthews, a blogger at ProductivityTheory.com and writer for The Huffington Post, Lifehack, and other large sites.
Take it away Kayla!
Why I Hated Running
Some people are runners, and some people … well, cringe at the thought. I should know. I used to be one of them.
But running is a great exercise to undertake! Not only can it benefit your cardiovascular system but it’s also a great tool for all those weight loss and fitness New Year’s resolutions about to be made.
If you find yourself wishing that you liked running more, there’s hope for you. I hated running my entire life. Mainly because I didn’t do it enough, and it was incredibly taxing for me.
But since setting a few goals for myself and seeing that I could actually meet them, I’ve come to love running – and even look forward to it (imagine!).
When I was young I had a serious case of chronic bronchitis and, ever since that year, cold weather makes my lungs act up: tight chest, difficulty breathing, high-pitched wheezing sounds.
Even the few times when I was able to get into a regular running habit, I’d give it up in the winter and have to start all over again in the spring (I only ran outdoors at the time).
I realize this specific situation isn’t why everyone hates running, but I think it’s something that many people can relate to. We all dislike running for our own reasons, but typically it’s because it’s uncomfortable or even painful for our bodies.
But I learned to love running, and you can too! But first, you should address the reasons you dislike it in the first place.
Below are a few reasons why most unenthused runners dislike the activity, and how you can cope with them.
As I just mentioned, many people complain when they begin running that the exercise physically hurts their bodies, resulting in cramps, soreness, shortness of breath, or even running injuries.
Some discomfort is completely normal if you aren’t a regular runner, though, so remember to stick with it to help your body adjust to the regimen. These uncomfortable feelings are telling you that your body is out of shape.
But once you get into a regular running habit – even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes a day – you’ll feel your body adjusting to the activity and running will become easier.
[Jason’s note: this is SO true. Often by increasing the number of days that you run, you actually feel better. But if running is a novel activity, your body won’t adapt to it as quickly.]
Running takes too much time
Any exercise plan is going to require effort; there are simply no shortcuts when it comes to diet, fitness and regular exercise. In order to tailor your fitness plan to your own lifestyle, plan ahead. Ask yourself:
- What time of day is best for you to run?
- What is most conducive for your schedule?
- When do you have the most energy?
When I was in college, my biggest mistake was trying to fit a morning jog in at 6:30 every day. I’d be so tired I could barely run, and I’d need a nap in the middle of the day to regain my energy. Early morning running definitely works for some people – I just had to accept that I wasn’t one of them.
Now, I go running in the evenings or, on weekends, in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve found that I really enjoy running when I’m anticipating it throughout the day, rather than jumping into it first thing in the morning.
Find an exercise time that works for you. Your run won’t feel like it’s taking “too much time” if you pick a time that works with your schedule instead of against it.
Running can be thrown off by bad weather
Like I said before, I used to run outdoors a lot. Mainly because it’s cheaper and I enjoy the change in scenery.
But if you want to commit to a regular running habit and actually enjoy running, you should probably consider getting a gym membership. Planet Fitness is very cheap – when you think about it, it only costs about as much as two pints of Ben & Jerry’s.
When running is more convenient for you, you’re likely to both enjoy it more, and stick with your running schedule.
If you’re determined to run outside, though, there are ways that you can make that happen. If you want to run in the winter, there’s an article for that 🙂
Who knows? Maybe the additional challenge will make you feel more accomplished when you’re done.
Running damages joints
This is probably the most widespread assumption about running, and it’s easy to use this excuse as a way to dodge the exercise altogether. In fact, Jason recently dismantled the myth that “running is bad for the knees” in this Details article.
Joint damage is rare for runners, but it can be prevented by running a smart training program in addition to doing runner-specific strength training.
If you’re smart about how you run, you can avoid injuries consistently.
[Jason’s note: properly structured training (or “smart” training) is the BEST way to prevent injuries in addition to strength exercises. It’s the foundation of Injury Prevention for Runners. If you get hurt often, I can’t recommend investing in this program more strongly.]
Runners must be fast
This is one myth about running that I let hold me back for a long time. I used to get so down on myself and never felt proud when I finished running for 10 or 15 minutes. When I was just starting, that was a big deal for me.
But I knew most “runners” would say that running for that amount of time was nothing.
The truth is, whether you run a 5-minute or 20-minute mile, you can still call yourself a runner. Don’t fret over how fast you can go; instead, focus on the process of running and how it makes your body feel.
As you build your strength and lung power, you’ll notice that you’re more able to handle running, and your speed will naturally increase.
Runners have to be athletic
You don’t have to be an athlete to run. The important part is just getting out there and doing it!
No one is judging you, so don’t set yourself up for failure by assuming you can’t handle the physical exertion. Everyone has to start somewhere. Keep setting realistic improvement goals for yourself and, as you meet them, you’ll feel better and better about yourself and gradually build your endurance along the way.
For me, my super-huge-almost-impossible goal was to run for one entire hour. I set that goal for myself just to give me something to aim for and to motivate me to run for increased amounts of time each week.
When I could run for 30 minutes I was pleased. When I ran for 40 I was proud. When I ran for 50 I was downright impressed. But when I ran for one hour the first time in my entire life, I blew myself away. I had no idea that I could ever do that! But I did.
And that moment has been the defining moment of my joy for running.
Do you love running yet?
If the above assumptions encompass your dislike of running, don’t you feel like giving it another shot now?
You can learn to love running over time, but that will never happen if you don’t make running a habit. How could you like something if you don’t experience it regularly? One day may not be as good as the next, but if you stick with something, you’ll usually find that you enjoy the overall experience, minus the few bad exceptions.
Here are even more ways you can enjoy running:
- Make running your “me” time to escape from work, your home life and stress
- If running outdoors, pay attention to the sunset, flowers, birds, water and other sites
- Set goals for yourself and upload post-goal-completion selfies on your social media sites
- Buy attractive running gear (you feel better when you look good!)
- Pep talk yourself during the last stretch
- Reward yourself for meeting milestones
- Run with friends or coworkers who are at your level
- Track the distance that you can run, not just how fast or how long
A love of running may not come naturally to you, but you can learn to love it and truly enjoy the time you spend running.
However, nobody can make you love running if you aren’t willing to open your mind to the idea of enjoying it. You have to want to like it, and you have to be willing to stick with it long enough to get over the initial hurdles.
I’d love to hear about your experiences running! What do you love about running? Share your passion for running in the comments below!
Kayla Matthews is a healthy living blogger with a passion for running, positive thinking, and various kinds of tofu. You can read more of her articles by following her on Google+ and Twitter, or by finding her at ProductivityTheory.com.