Running is one of the simplest and easiest ways to improve our health generally and aid weight loss. It's something that everyone can do and it's something that we can do no matter where we are, with no equipment necessary. It doesn't require any instruction either: you just run.
Unfortunately though, running is also a rather time-consuming way to get into shape that requires a fair amount of commitment if you're going to stick to it regularly. Running can be hard on our joints, shins and feet, it can sometimes mean going out in the cold and it takes a long time. Then there's the fact that you get all sweaty…
If only running was fun then we might be more inclined to do it. So let's take a look at what we can do about that… Here are some great ways to make running more enjoyable…
The Right Shoes
The right shoes will make a ton of difference to your experience of running. Ideally, these should be shoes that are light and cool and that encourage you to run with the correct form. Advice is gradually moving away from the thick and heavily-padded type of shoe and instead is moving towards light and 'minimal' shoes, with some even mimicking barefoot running.
When you switch to a shoe like this, you'll find that you become faster effortlessly and that you are more in touch with the ground underneath you for a more enjoyable and satisfying jog. You'll also find that running in barefoot style reduces injury and improves posture making the experience more comfortable as well.
Try Trail Running…
Trail running is the awesome hobby of running through woods, hills and other non-civilized locations. This not only improves your surroundings and creates a better view, but also means you can run across uneven terrain, jump across rivers, balance along logs and otherwise treat the run as an assault course. If you're a gamer, then you can think of this as playing a real-life platform game almost, and it's a lot more fun for it!
If you want to take this concept to the next level, then you could alternatively try doing some parkour instead (which is essentially a synonym for free running, though with less emphasis on flips). In other words, go running in built-up urban areas, but treat those as assault courses by jumping over railings and hopping across bollards. Just be careful not to break any laws or to injure yourself.
Shoes aren't the only type of gear you can benefit from when you go running. Likewise you can find cool exercise garments, ergonomic backpacks and fitness tracking gadgets like FitBit.
Don't want to jog? Then you could always try skipping instead. Or alternatively, you could try running backwards, hopping, or power walking. Running is only one way to expend energy while travelling from point A to point B, so consider using/trying something else! Just bear in mind that people can see you and might think you've gone a little crazy when you skip backwards past their window. That and you can bang your head – so this is maybe one to keep to your garden.
Mix-Up the Terrain
Another way to change the biomechanics of running itself is to switch up the terrain. A good example would be to try running on sand which increases the resistance you'll face and thereby makes the exercise more of a strength building one than it otherwise would be.
Another option is to run in shallow water, which again increases resistance but also freshens you up. Finally, running up or down hills can also make a significant difference while also increasing the challenge.
Take a Prop
A 'prop' can help you while running in numerous ways. One source I read recommended taking a Frisbee on runs and throwing this and chasing it as you go. This is fun but a little impractical – dribbling a ball on the other hand is a little easier and more doable for most people and definitely one to consider.
Add a Parachute
An alternative and truly unusual type of prop for running is a 'running parachute'. This is a parachute that you attach to your back in order to add resistance during your runs. You now have to run extra fast in order to pull the parachute against the air resistance and this makes it a much tougher workout on your legs. It's also just something fun and different to try for a change.
Use Zombies, Run!
Zombies, Run! is an app that aims to 'gamify' the process of running. It does this by providing audio commentary that makes you feel as though you're being chased by zombies and by letting you collect tools and supplies on your runs that you can subsequently use to build your fort. It's a smart way of motivating yourself and a well put-together piece of software.
The easiest way to gamify a run though is simply to race a friend. Go running with a partner and see who can get to the finish line first in order to make each run into a fun challenge.
An alternative to racing a friend meanwhile is simply to time your own runs and to race your own records. This will not only make running more fun, but will also ensure that you're constantly improving. In the future, augmented reality technologies might allow us to race 'ghosts' of our previous times, but a stopwatch will have to do until then.
Alternatively, you could also attend an actual race.
Take a Friend
If your friends don't want to race, then simply running with a friend and chatting as you go is a great way to take your mind off the effort and to make the process a lot more fun.
Take Your Dog
Can't find a friend willing to race you on a run? Then consider going with a dog. Dogs love running and they're pretty fast usually, so they'll help make sure you keep up the pace!
Another simple tip is to run with an objective in mind. This is particularly useful if you have errands to do. Instead of walking to the bank, why not just run there? Alternatively, look up interesting sights, shops or activities in your neighborhood and run to check them out. Having an end destination in mind can make running feel less 'boring' and give you more incentive to keep going.
Stuck for ideas regarding running destinations? Then a good option is to use geocaching. Geocaching is the practice of hiding items for others to find using apps and clues. You can look up items within a 5 mile radius say, then run to find them. This will make your runs a little more memorable and is another good way of 'gamifying' the process.