The life of a runner can seem tough. Like most activities, it’s one that you need to be committed to feeling the full benefits from. That can often mean getting up earlier than you’d like, going out in undesirable weather conditions, and having to do the hard yards when you’d like to be going home.
However, there are ways of making it fun, especially when you're just starting out.
So, here’s our guide on how to enjoy running.
Organise your fun
Before you start running, there are a few things you need to think about. First of all, decide how long you want each training session to last. While it’s good to enjoy your run, you’ll only really start to feel progression when you measure the amount of time you do it for, not necessarily how far you go. Also, find the right location for you to start running. Set landmarks, and try to run on soft ground (trails in forests, wooded areas, or parks), unless the long term goal is for you to compete in road races.
Ease into it - start running, by walking
Your body will need time to adapt. Not just your fitness level, but your muscles, joints, and all the connective tissue in your feet. Running creates stresses that different from what you encounter in day-to-day life and other sports. If you jump in with too much ambition, running will likely feel much harder than it needs to. And you’ll risk getting injured.
We recommend starting with two training sessions per week. And they should be mostly walking.
In the beginning, go on brisk walks, and introduce short bursts of running. Don’t think about speed. The idea is to find a comfortable pace that you’d like to be able to sustain for long durations. But in the beginning, you’ll only sustain it for a couple of minutes. Try starting with a workout like this:
- 5-10 minute walk, to warm up
- 2-minute easy run
- 3-minute walk (repeat the run-walk cycle three times)
- 5-minute walk, to cool down
Do this workout twice during your first week, with at least two days rest in between.
Then next week increase the running to 3 minutes, and the week after that to 4 minutes.
After the first 2 or 3 weeks, increase the frequencies of your runs to 3 times a week.
After 4 weeks, start reducing the length of the walking periods as you increase the length of the running periods.
After 8-12 weeks, you may find you can easily run for 15 to 30 minutes, with no break at all.
Now you’re on your way, lets look at some other ways how to enjoy running.
Take in the world around you
Whether you live in an urban area or the countryside, there is so much to take in during an everyday run. Instead of focusing on any aches and pains during the hard yards, why not take in your surroundings instead? This could be a dog walker you see every day, how a building site is developing, or just the ever-changing clouds in the sky. By appreciating the little things, your run will be that much more enjoyable, and that little bit easier!
Switch up your route
Once you feel as though you’ve got the very best of your running route, start looking at new spots. It might not always be possible, but try to find a destination that has different characteristics to your current one. So if you’ve been doing laps around a park, why not try a jog through town, or up and down a hill? You’ll be back to loving your run in no time. For tips on choosing a new running route, find our advice here.
Let the music (or podcast) guide you
If you’re feeling a lack of drive or looking for a new form of stimulation, popping in a pair of headphones can do a world of good. Picking songs for a running playlist is a delicate thing. Before you start selecting, it’s worth thinking about what you’re running for. If you’re in the mindset to blow off some steam, then find the songs with a fast pace, and ones you can get lost in. If you enjoy running as more of a meditative process, choose a more calming set of songs, that will help you focus on your breathing.
There’s also the option of running with a podcast, which works just as well as an entertaining distraction, and means you’ll be exercising your mind as you as your body.
Find a running buddy
Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation, wanting someone to put the world to rights with, or a person to push yourself and compete against, bringing a friend out with you is an excellent way to make your runs more enjoyable. Can’t find a running companion? Search online for your local running club, or get yourself down to a park run and open yourself up to a different way of meeting new like-minded friends.
Set goals, or run a race?
Once you’ve been running for a little while, you may start to feel like you are simply going through the motions, and are no longer finding it fun. This would be an excellent time to introduce goals to your running, so you can push yourself on, and once again start feeling a sense of accomplishment.
From completing a 5k or adding another 20 minutes onto your run, new targets should mean a new purpose to your running. Want to go even bigger with your goal setting? Sign yourself up for a half marathon and make your goals long term.
Download a running app
Continuing with this idea of enjoyment through accomplishment, keeping track of your development can be a great way of being able to enjoy your achievements. An easy way of doing this is by downloading one of the many running apps available. You’ll be able to store your running data without raising a finger and be able to appreciate your progress after every run. Popular running apps include Strava, RunKeeper, and Garmin.
A few things to remember
Wear the right gear when running
Both for reasons of safety and comfort. Whether you’re looking to go for morning runs or an evening time jog, it’s good to wear clothing that means you can be seen, especially in the wintertime. For a rundown of the best ways to stay safe running, click here. If you are looking to go for regular jogs, having the right pair of running shoes is also certainly necessary if you want to feel comfortable out on your route. Click here for more information on running shoes.
Make sure you are eating and drinking properly
It is no secret: you need to drink before during, and after exercise, because you lose lots of fluids when out running. Before you set off, make sure you drink diluted drinks (like apple juice). During the run, drink water. Afterward, drink fruit juice, Vichy water, or coke. In cold weather, get yourself some dried fruits and cereal bars.
Remember to stretch!
No matter how relaxed you want your running to be, it’s important to make sure sure you limber up beforehand, or you’ll end up in a world of pain, which could potentially put you off going for another run. Take 15 minutes before you go to stretch, and prepare your muscles and tendons. After you finish your run, another set of stretches will aid recovery and make for a more comfortable run the next time.