Running is one of the most straight-forward, most effective and most tried-and-tested forms of exercise there is. While some people these days will tell you that HIIT is more effective, this form of intense training definitely isn’t for everyone and is much more grueling than a lot of people give it credit for. Running is something anyone can do, anywhere and without any equipment.
And what’s more, running should be fun. When you run, you get to go outside, enjoy fresh air and see the world. It’s the perfect antidote to sitting in the office all day and it’s a tool that thousands of people around the world have used to lose weight and get into better shape.
So why do so many people hate running and avoid it at all costs? In this article we’ll examine how you can make running fun again and get more out of it so that you’ll be more likely to stick to a new training program and more likely to reap the benefits as a result.
Here are the best ways that you can make running fun or at least more enjoyable…
Get the Right Shoes
Perhaps the single most important way to start making running more enjoyable and rewarding is to get good running shoes. As soon as you do this, you’ll find that running becomes less uncomfortable and less painful and that you’re far less likely to put it off whenever you think about going for a run.
The difficult part of course is choosing the right running shoe. Here you have a number of different options and the best choice is going to depend on a number of factors unique to you. For instance, if you have a slight pronation or supination, then you will need to get a supportive shoe that can help to prevent your foot from rolling inward or outward. Likewise, if you have a heel strike when you run, then you’ll want more padding on the heel and a bigger ‘heel to toe’ drop. On the other hand, if you are a neutral runner or you run on the balls of your feet, then you can start progressing to a more minimal shoe.
Fortunately, you don’t have to understand all of this yourself. Just go to your nearest running shoe shop and have your gait measured on a treadmill. That way you’ll be able to learn about your stride, about the shape of your foot and more and you’ll be recommended the best shoe taking all that into account.
Oh and replace this shoe regularly. Go for years without ever changing your shoe and you’ll quickly end up losing the support you paid for leading to potential injury.
Measuring and Tracking
Another great tip is to wear some kind of fitness tracker or running watch or to use a running app. The reason for this is that it will enable you to monitor your performance and more specifically your improvement over time. This is something that is missing from running when compared with a weightlifting regime and once you introduce it, the whole process becomes much more rewarding and addictive.
I recently bought myself new running shoes (Nike Pegasus 32s) and this has improved my average mile by as much as a minute. This is highly rewarding and satisfying but the only way that I know it’s the case is because I’ve been using a Microsoft Band to track my performance.
With fitness tracking you can measure your average pace, your distance, your heart rate and more to get a good picture of how you’re performing and to help set yourself goals.
Don’t Overdo It
A big mistake that a lot of people make when they take up a running regime is to overdo it right away. In other words, they decide they want to start running and then commit to doing several 6 mile sessions a week. This is just way too much if you’ve not been running at all until now. Start out with just one run a week and you’ll find it’s enough to make a difference while maintaining your enthusiasm for running.
At the same time, don’t expect too much out of yourself right away in terms of pace. If this is the first time you’ve been running on a regular basis then aim just to enjoy it at first and don’t feel the need to push yourself too hard.
Choose the Right Environment
If you’re running laps around the park then expect things to get pretty old, pretty fast. Instead, try going on adventures and discovering new things. I like in London and by going for runs in the local area I’ve managed to discover two separate parks near me that I never knew were there.
Other people enjoy going ‘trail running’. This means running through the woods and turning that into a kind of obstacle course at the same time – jumping over ditches, scrambling up hills and evading felled trees and sticking out roots. This is a lot more fun and almost feels like playing a real-life video game.
Don’t have anywhere nearby that you can enjoy exploring or trail running? Then you could even consider doing some free running at the same time!
Just as a fitness tracker can help you to get more enjoyment from your runs, another piece of hardware that will upgrade your running experience is the right music player and head/earphones. This way you can immerse yourself in music as you run and this can be highly motivating if you normally struggle to keep your energy up.
Pay Attention to Your Running Form
Don’t focus too much on running form to the point that you end up distracted and complicating matters. That said, if you find running uncomfortable or painful it’s worth assessing whether your technique may have something to do with it. Try changing the way your feet strike the ground, loosening your shoulders and keeping your chin up – all these things can improve your performance and help you feel less discomfort.
Run for Something
A friend of mine finds that he is much better at staying dedicated to his running if he has an upcoming event such as a marathon or a 10K. As such, he is always signing up to new activities and is thus always training for something.
Make a Game
While all these tips will help you to enjoy running a little more, none of it hides the fact that running is still relatively monotonous and repetitive. You are still usually running without any kind of objective in the short term and with relatively little to distract you.
So why not turn it into a game? There are a few different ones you can try. For instance, you can turn it into a treasure hunt by going geocaching – meaning that you’re searching for items hidden in secret locations using an app to chase down the coordinates. You can kick a ball while running too (as long as you do it somewhere safe) or you can race other joggers (they don’t have to know!). Or why not try downloading the excellent ‘Zombie, Run!’ app which motivates you to run by turning it into a game of survival horror!