Running does not come naturally for me. When I’m pounding the pavement, my muscles ache, my knees hurt, I’m wishing I was done. Yet, I continue to run, albeit not far or super often, because it’s the quickest form of good, heart-pumping exercise I can get. No car or special equipment needed. No membership required. Running is easy….until, that is, I’ve got my running shoes on.
Once I get going, my mind tries to convince me that running was not such a good idea after all. It tells me that I’m not a “real” runner but rather an impostor dressed in running clothes. It says I should forget the running and focus on other ways to stay fit instead. But the truth is, I want to run. If I can get myself into the groove, it is possible for me to enjoy running – at least a little bit. Plus I feel great after a run – no other form of exercise gives me quite the endorphin rush as running.
I find that it helps to have a few tricks up my sleeve (or in my mind) before I head out for a run. If you are trying to feel a bit more lovin’ in your running, you may want to try a few of these ideas:
Go at your own pace
When I head out for a run, I have very little expectation of my pace or the distance I will go. My goal is simply to get out there and do it. I don’t wear a watch or a pedometer. I don’t track my miles. If I need to take a walking break, I do it. There is no reason to be embarrassed about taking your time and doing it your way!
Wear good shoes
Proper running shoes with good support are key. My husband picked up some ASICS running shoes on sale at REI for me and they help my feet feel as good as they can, considering what I am putting them through. Planet Shoes has some eco-friendly running shoe options, including the popular barefoot style, which I have yet to try but many people swear by.
My brain wants to be mean to me and tell me that I’m no good at running. I find that if I am aware of how my mind is tricking me, I can usually overcome it. Positive imagery and focused breathing help me keep my mind off the negative and just on the task at hand. To distract myself when I am feeling tired, I look for certain colors in my surroundings – focusing on red (stop signs, cars, tulips) or yellow (school buses, houses, sunflowers) or different shades of green. It sounds odd, but it works for me.
Create a soundtrack
Music makes all the difference. I have an upbeat playlist that keeps me motivated and puts me in a good mood. I’m getting a bit bored with it though so it’s time to add some new tunes. Any recommendations?
Mix it up
Sick of your running route? Run somewhere else! I find that mixing up my running routes keeps me engaged and often tricks me into running farther. Fortunately, I live in a running-friendly neighborhood and near a number of lakes and running paths, so there is no shortage of great places to run.
Whenever I want to complain about the aches and pains of exercise, I stop to remember how lucky I am that I can exercise. I am able to run out my door any day I want, on my own two feet and do something healthy for my body. Now that’s lucky!
I’ll probably never LOVE running. Not the way my husband does and many other people I know. But I’ll continue to run (along with doing other types of exercise) as long as I feel like I’m benefiting from it – both mentally and physically.
Are you a runner? What do you recommend to make running more enjoyable?
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