How To Be A Runner (From Someone Who Hates Running)

Signed up for a race and hate running? Having severe regrets? You’re not alone! I recently registered for a triathlon and, having been a competitive swimmer most of my life, thought training would be a relatively manageable way for me to get in better shape. However, on week 4 or 5 of training, I realized that the worst part of all of this was the shortest part of the actual race: running.

I’ve been a casual runner for the past couple years. In other words, I’ll go for a jog when the weather is between 65 and 75 degrees and sunny, which isn’t exactly the strategy for success. Deciding to register for this race meant that I needed to step up my consistency and effort in that area and since I’m not exactly jumping out of bed in the morning with the motivation to put on my running shoes, I needed to come up with a plan to stay motivated.

Step one: Treat yo self

You know when you were little and your parents made you eat your vegetables or you wouldn’t get ice cream? That’s how I approach my running mindset. Your brain responds well to reward systems. That’s why every store ever made a rewards card and spends 25 minutes hassling you about it at the check out counter when you’re just trying to buy a cup of coffee. Because it works. If you get rewarded to shop there, you’re going to continue going back there.

So let’s apply that to running. What excites you? Is there a certain tv show that you look forward to watching weekly (or daily, s/o streaming services)? Set rules. Don’t watch the show unless you’ve met your running goals for that day or that week. Maybe buy yourself a nice bottle of wine every week. Maybe you don’t drink that wine unless you finish that run. Identify your reward and be disciplined about it. Mom yourself.

Step two: Make it enjoyable

Now, listen. I am grateful that I have the physical ability to get out and go for a run. I am also grateful that I have teeth. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I’m sprinting out my door to drive to the dentist every 6 months. You don’t need to feel bad that running isn’t your favorite. But you can take steps to reduce the hatred.

I come from a family of runners. Until a recent injury, my dad was poundin’ out 6-minute miles three times a week. My mom is like a freaking gazelle. My sister ran track. My point is, I don’t know, maybe I’m adopted. Kidding, kind of. But all three of those psychopaths don’t listen to music while they run and I can’t get on board. I’ve had some of my best and most enjoyable runs when I find a new playlist I’m excited about. I don’t let myself jam out to it (hey look, rewards) until I go for a run. Listening to music helps distract me from the sound of my own wheezy breathing and sometimes I forget I’m even moving.

If music isn’t your thing, I’ve also had a couple runs where I listened to podcasts. If you ambitiously signed yourself up for a half or full marathon, this could come in handy. Find a good podcast that has some longer episodes and download them before heading out on your run.

Step three: Remember why

Running is one of those things (like eating kale) where people always say “it’s so good for you!” and with the same chirp you’re like, “then why does it make me feel like I’m DYING!” But they’re not wrong. It is good for you. It’s good for your body, it’s good for your brain (I’ll link some studies about running and fighting mental illness if facts are what gets you going). If you’re training for a race, maybe that’s your why. If you want to lose weight or improve your cardio, maybe that’s your why. If you’re living in the epicenter of a pandemic and your gym closed and you haven’t left your house in 8 days, maybe that’s your why. Regardless, find your why and make sure to provide yourself with daily reminders or some of those inspirational Pinterest quotes to help you stay focused.

No matter what your reasoning or motivation for adding running into your lifestyle, give these a chance and see if they can help you like they’ve helped me. In summary, running is definitively good for you but I’m still unconvinced that kale is. #changemymind.

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