Having Fun on the Run: 10 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Running
13th November 2017."I should go for a run" is a thought that many of us have regularly, but how often do we follow through? The desire to get into shape is one thing, but putting it into practice is another. Running is often the first thing people think of when they consider ways to exercise because it requires very few special skills and practically no equipment besides a good pair of running shoes. However, running is a deceptively easy activity ? it seems simple before you start, but once you begin, it's clearly much more difficult. That's especially true if you haven't done much running yet. When you're struggling to make it through your first mile, sweating and gasping for breath, it's the opposite of fun. Even worse is when you feel like you're failing to attain the goals you've set for yourself. All of a sudden, running isn't a fun activity to think about anymore. Instead, it's a huge source of stress. Why should your exercise routine make you feel bad? It shouldn't! Turn things around by reshaping the way you think about your run. With these ten tips, find easy ways to put the fun back into exercise so you can enjoy yourself while getting fit.
- Don't start off concerned about your pace
If you've read plenty of articles on the Web about running, you've probably seen a tonne of information about how to run faster, shave time off your mile, and increase your pace. As a result, many people feel they're "failing" if they aren't improving their times week after week. Just run at your own pace! Find the pacing that allows you to feel the most comfortable. Even if you need to alternate between walking and running for a while, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be an excellent way to slowly ramp up your endurance so you canstart to think about pace later.
- Get creative: make your own running challenge
What could be more fun than working towards and eventually completing a challenge? Figure out a goal that you'd be proud to say you completed, even if you don't tell anyone else. It might be running without stopping to a local landmark, making it home from a run in record time, or something else. You might base challenges on time, distance, weather conditions, or even something seemingly silly ? like finishing a run before the end of a song. Be creative and don't be afraid to give yourself some tough challenges, too.
- Bring a friend on your next run
Do you ever get tired of running all by yourself? It's a totally normal feeling! It can be stressful to be out on the running trails alone, especially if you have trouble focusing on the run instead of your thoughts. The solution? Bring a friend along. That way, you'll have an easily accessible source of conversation and a buddy who can keep you motivated when the going gets tough. Do you know someone who has the same struggles with exercise? Getting an "accountability partner" is an excellent way to reshape the way you think about running.
- Play a mind game to pass the miles faster
"If I just get to that street sign?" "I'll start counting the number of red cars?" Playing a game in your mind while running will keep you moving forward and make you less likely to slow down and stop. These mind games can take an almost endless number of forms. You're the referee and the player! Make up the rules as you go and you'll soon realise this is a very effective tool.
- Run when the weather is most agreeable
Not one runner ? not even the most hardcore marathon runner ? enjoys striding through a daily run in heat and humidity. Unfortunately, even the spring can have very warm days, to say nothing of how hot it can become in the summer. How can you beat the heat that makes you feel so miserable? Switch up your routine and try to run in the morning or early evening. If you live in a safe area or secluded neighbourhood, running late at night is even an option. Just remember to enlist the right safety precautions. By skipping the hottest part of the day, you won't need to stress out so much about the weather.
- Try a running app for extra motivation
Do you have a smartphone? There's no shortage of apps for running, including the well-loved Couch to 5k app. These apps provide you with motivation, the ability to set goals, and even structured running workouts so you can have fun with while improving your body. You might enjoy seeing a map with your running paths overlaid onto it, or you could benefit from the in-ear coaching some apps provide to users with headphones. Explore the app store with your smart device to see if there's any software out there to help you have more fun.
- Find music that pumps you up for a run
Everyone knows that music can be a powerful motivator when it comes to any type of exercise. A heavy beat, uplifting lyrics, or a fast tempo can shift your brain into fitness mode. That doesn't mean your music will make you run faster, but it can give you something to focus on rather than your burning muscles! Queue up some music on your favourite streaming service, or create a playlist with your most-liked workout tunes. You'll find that when you shift your focus to the music instead of your footfalls, you have a better time.
- Pick new and different places for your runs
If you only ever run the same route, boredom will set in rapidly. Seeing the same things every run isn't fun, and it can make it a chore to get out the door when you want to exercise. Start turning your runs into an opportunity to see new scenery and explore the world around you. That doesn't mean you need to find a new place to run every day ? that could create its own type of stress ? but try to mix it up at least once or twice a week. That will keep things interesting and keep you engaged.
- Think like a cyclist ? try "destination" runs
Speaking of exploring your surroundings, take a leaf out of the cyclist playbook. Cycling clubs often organise group rides to a specific place ? like a coffee shop, an interesting lunch spot, or a nice outdoor attraction. Consider having one run per week where you try to make it to something you'd like to do or a place you want to visit. Just make sure you have enough energy to run back, and try not to run on a full stomach! Giving yourself a goal to achieve, even if it's just arriving at the destination, will add enjoyment to your exercise.
- Accept some discomfort, but know when to stop
Running won't always be fun: that's just a fact of life. All the tips and tricks in the world won't change the fact that your body will take time to become stronger and adjust to the demands of running. Sometimes, you'll still want to quit; sometimes, you'll get tired of being out of breath and waking up with sore legs. Embrace the discomfort. While you shouldn't run until you feel terrible, recognise that you need to spend some time feeling "bad" before you can feel good. The right attitude can make the difficult days that much easier to accept. Everyone can enjoy running ? it just takes patience! Whether you decide to start coming up with mind games or running with a partner, there's always something you can do to make running more fun. It doesn't need to be a painful slog mile after mile every day. In fact, the more time you spend figuring out how to have fun on the go, the more time you'll spend exercising. The result? A healthier body, a happier mind, and an exercise-based hobby you can do anytime the weather is good enough. Which methods will you use to put the fun back in running? Follow @SportNessUK