I used to hate running, it was the bane of my existence whenever I put my sneakers on. I thought I could trick myself into enjoying it, hoping that one day it would stop feeling so hard. But that wishful thinking was getting me nowhere. I needed to take positive action to shift how I felt about running.
I learned some tricks that seriously helped change how I felt about it and they can totally help you out if you’re in a similar situation.
- Stop judging your progress based off other people’s abilities. This one’s a killer. Seeing someone run on the treadmill for long stretches of time used to be deflating. I’d feel discouraged because I wasn’t as good as they were so I preferred not see their success because it meant mine was trivial. But that was a convenient excuse not to push myself or to acknowledge the progress I was making. Once I started focusing on my own experience, I started to get excited about the changes that were happening and other people’s progress became encouraging instead of a detriment.
- Just get out there. Even if it’s only for two minutes, that’s two minutes you weren’t running before. Work with where you’re at and what you’re able to do today. The regular action of going out for a run—no matter how long—will start to add up and give you a good feeling knowing that you’re doing what you can.
- Be proud of where you are right now. You may not be running a marathon yet, but you started and that’s where the bravery lies, in taking action again and again to keep moving forward, at whatever pace you’re able. I’d still consider myself a beginner and that’s okay, I’ve shifted to thinking about my running experience as a fun challenge, where I get to see how far I can make it each day. I also make sure to relish in those good vibes after I finish, with my heart pumping and body sweating.
- View each step as a choice. Each minute that you make it further is a victory—you could have stopped, but you kept going. That choice is exhilarating when you keep making it again and again. It feels amazing knowing that you’re doing this because you can and you want to.
- Run and walk intermittently. Sometimes your body needs a break or warm-up time before it’s ready to go into full on running mode. Some days are just harder than others. Maybe you’re right at the beginning of your running journey and need to mix in walking as you build up your endurance. Mixing walking and running can really help you keep moving forward.
- Adjust the plan. Some days will be great and others not so much. Adjust the routine if something isn’t working. Adding in more intervals, power walk if need be, listen to your body and how you’re feeling that day. You’re out there doing it, which is what matters. You can always come back to crush it tomorrow.
- Consider listening to an audio book to beat the mental blocks. Once I got past the physical hurtles of running, it was the mental ones that were taking me down. I was conscious of every second I ran, which made me want to stop after a few steps. I got out of my head by turning to audio books. Music wasn’t enough to distract me, but stories have the ability to completely consume my mind, which turned out to be exactly what I needed while running. Plus, now when I think about running, I associate it with hearing great stories and that positive association totally works in my favour, getting me into the running zone. What helps you get in the moment or escape from the moment? Music, audio books, sounds of nature, following along the waterfront—experiment to see what will best help you reach those distances you’re aiming for.
- If you have an off day, that doesn’t mean you have to call it quits. A bad habit that I’d gotten into was calling the whole running thing off over the slightest inconvenience, like not being able to push it as hard on certain days. But as I learned, a hard day is no reason to completely give up. Your body may just need you to take it easy that day. Be easy on yourself and try again tomorrow.
- Finish strong. Have enough strength left inside so that you can really push yourself at the end. Ending on a high note, feeling like you’ve run harder than you ever have before, will keep you coming back for more, knowing how good it feels to give it all you’ve got.