For many, running feels like the “ultimate” form of fitness. To be able to go run for a set distance seems like a terrific milestone to a lot of people. Even for people who run regularly, who call themselves runners, there is the next goal or benchmark that makes them think, “When I do that, then I’ll know I’m a real runner…”
I know this because I’ve been this person. I was actually a girl who never thought she’d be a runner. For me, I thought that when I actually could lace up my shoes and hit the park for 5 miles like it was nothing that would be when I could identify as a runner. I even swore I would NEVER run a marathon, and shocked myself by finishing my first marathon in four hours and fifteen minutes and couldn’t wait to sign up for another, and eventually would go on to do five marathons in a year. At 38 weeks pregnant, I still fantasize about being in shape enough to do an ultra marathon some day.
The thing about running is that it’s a simple enough sport for most of us to do. It requires very little equipment, races are accessible, and like I said above, for many of us, there is a wonderful sliding scale of achievement.
I was amazed in doing a survey of women in Sol Movement programs to see that over 75% of them have aspirations for running and wanted to do a running program. The women in this group cover the full spectrum of athlete: some have never raced, some have done a handful of races, and some have run marathons and Ironman. What makes us all want to run? What gets us started? What keeps us going? What gets us to come back for more?
If you’ve never run a race, if you’ve never been a runner, what makes you want to start? I recall thinking people who run are skinny, if I can start running, I can become skinny. I also remember thinking that I found these people dedicated and inspiring, and I wanted to be like them, and part of their group. But the thing is, until I was nearly thirty, no matter how much I wanted to like running, it was hard, miserably hard, and I never enjoyed it.
For a long time, I thought if I could just get to the point where I’m not miserable. Surely this doesn’t have to hurt! Millions of people wouldn’t run every day to run if it hurt them all like this - we aren’t all masochists! I wanted to be able to run for pleasure, to feel light on my feet, to run and socialize with my friends.
Like all things in life, we have to see where we are and move toward a goal from there. Let’s start with your goal: if it’s distance, what distance? If you hang around me long enough, you know I believe in race goals - they keep us committed to working out, keep us striving for more. Is it a 5K or a marathon? What’s your goal, and when do you want to achieve it?
If you want to run and feel good running, I don’t blame you, running really can set you free and it’s an incredible feeling when you achieve that level of fitness. But it doesn’t have to be all struggle until you get there! Here are a few tricks and tips to get you to a place where you enjoy running.
Five tips at tricks for learning to love running (again or for the first time):
1. Make an effort to make it enjoyable – find a good playlist or podcast to listen to, grab a friend, pick a pretty location and make sure to wear something that makes you feel good. Maybe this all seems obvious, but if you feel good in what you’re wearing, in your setting, and what you’re listening to, you’re bound to enjoy the run more.
2. Don't run for distance – start with time goals rather than mileage goals; you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to run for 10 minutes than 1 mile. If you want to see how much distance you’ve covered in the time you’ve run, go for it as this will be a great benchmark for future runs.
3. Start slow – remember the good ole tale of The Tortoise and the Hare: Slow and steady wins the race. In the “race” to enjoy running, going at a slow pace cannot be undervalued for helping you to enjoy the run. If you’re going too fast, you’ll stress your system, and when we get short of breath, we stress out, which is the opposite of enjoyment, so find a nice, comfortable, easy pace at the beginning. Don’t be afraid to walk/run too.
4. Stick to a plan and track your progress – There are so many great plans out there, including those available from Sol Movement, and having a plan in place will help guide you to your goals – much like a checklist – and keeping track of your runs will motivate you and inspire you to keep going. It’s easy to forget over time where we started from, so when you look back and remember how you could only run 10 minutes on your first run, you’ll relish in how good you feel and how far you’ve come.
5. Get fitted for a good pair of running shoes – Doesn’t everyone feel better when they’re wearing new shoes? Step out into your new sport with some great new gear on your feet. Ideally, find a shoe store that specializes in running shoes and will do a gate analysis for you to help you identify the right pair of shoes that fit you and the way that you run – this will help with comfort too, but also will assist with injury prevention.
If you’re ready to dive into running, you can also check out my blog: My Four C’s for Success, which will help you identify how to get immersed in your goal! As someone who never thought she would learn to love running, I assure you that these simple steps and the Four C’s can absolutely bring you into a life of enjoying running! You should also look at our running programs, where I work with you and a group of women like you to learn to enjoy running. Really! Check it out here.