10 Tips to Help you Fall in Love with Running

One of the most common reasons people come to me for help is to improve themselves physically, with weight loss and improved fitness being the main targets. When I ask what they like and what they hate about exercise, nearly all of them say that the most hated exercise is burpees, second to the burpee, is running.

My reply . . . . . “well you had better get used to it, because it is one of the best exercises for overall health”

Author: Nicky Forster

I’m not going to get into the argument that cardiovascular training is better than strength training or visa versa because this article isn’t to argue the point for either, in fact both have their own place in a healthy training lifestyle.

Running it’s not only good for cardiovascular health, weight management by burning calories, but it also benefits joint health, improves mood and boosts our immune sytem.

Unless there is a specific reason preventing someone from running, I honestly believe that anyone can run, and I will go further than that, stating that everyone has got a marathon in them, I also believe that anyone who regularly runs, no matter how far or how fast, is a runner. Many people who run don’t describe themselves as runners as they don’t feel that they are as good as they feel they need to be to for the category.

It’s simple, if you run, you’re a runner.

Many still struggle with the enjoyment aspect of running so here are 10 Tips to help you fall in love with putting one foot in front of the other.

 

  1. Run like a kid

There is something primal about running, it requires no equipment, and no training. I firmly believe that everybody who can run should run, running reminds me of when I was a child in the playground, just running around with my classmates was a source of relief and freedom from the classroom.

Running is the purest form of exercise, the problem is that many people hold the view that exercise is punishment. They use exercise as a punishment for a crime, “I’ve eaten too much pizza tonight, so I better go out for a run tomorrow”

Stop thinking of exercise as something you must do and start finding ways to make it something you want to do, remember when exercise was just freedom, liberty and having fun.

I have owned a gym for six years now and rarely use it for my own uses, because if I ever get a chance to exercise, I will always go out and run, it is an escape that brings me back to being a child and is the greatest source of relaxation that I can give myself.

I now run daily, I used to struggle with that, thinking that I should be giving myself some time off to relax, and I now know that running is a source of meditation, a source of relaxation, a source of me time that takes the stress out of life and keeps the wolves of mental health from my door, allowing me to go back into the stresses of daily life refreshed, recharged, and ready.

Of course, like everyone else I have to listen to my body and if I need time off for a rest or to recover from an injury then I will obviously do so, but if I can run, I will.

There will be a day when I cannot run, but for as long as I can, I will run, and I’ll be thankful for the fact that I can each and every time I do.

Many are not so fortunate, so if you can run, put on a mellow playlist, or listen to the soundtrack of nature and be thankful for it and embrace it.

  1. Forget Running PB’s

Unless we are training for the Olympics, or specifically to beat a previous best time, running should be enjoyable, so as much as possible, forget looking at your pace per mile or overall time in order to run a personal best every single time you go out. In truth, we shouldn’t be running for a personal best every time, our training should be done at a slower pace than a race pace. This is where trail running is good because of the changing terrain making running PB,s much more difficult. Trail running is more about enjoying the environment, being in nature and relaxing and enjoying the moment, which we can’t do if we are focusing on running a personal best time. Running for a personal best time often increases anxiety, increases pressure and can result in us actually feeling worse than before we started, especially if we fail to achieve a new personal best.

Understanding that we will have good days and bad days is vital, if we can learn to run at whatever pace we feel like running on that given day then we take a lot of pressure off ourselves.

There will be days when you will want to run fast and there will be days we simply can’t get into a state of flow, understanding this and not having too many preconceived ideas on what we need from any given run is a really good way of learning to enjoy the run rather than focusing on time and distance.

  1. Music

When starting out many people will listen to high intensity, high tempo music of 120 bpm or more, but this can quickly become very repetitive, frustrating, and even distracting.

Try mixing up your music by listening to podcasts or YouTube videos when you run. There is a huge source of information that will help to take your mind off the monotony of running.

I now often listen to low tempo binaural beats of different frequencies, which help me tune in mentally to my interroception, the spatial awareness inside of my body which really helps me to shut down and almost sends me into a meditative state

  1. Have a Run Buddy

Having a running partner even if you don’t hold a conversation whilst running it’s a really good way to enjoy being outside with someone. I will often run with my wife, Nicole, she will listen to some music of her choice whilst I listen to a podcast and even without talking much I enjoy that run much more than running alone.

Spending time with someone we care about and sharing the experience, no matter the weather strengthens connections and that benefits our mental health.

Park Runs are a really good way of meeting new people and enjoying a 5K run, they are held every Saturday morning at 9 am at parks throughout the country.

  1. Shoes

Footwear is fundamental to you enjoying running. Everyone is different, physically, technically, emotionally, and by mechanically so what might work for one person may well not for another. Understanding what is right for you in terms of your foot where is fundamental to you enjoying your run.

My first ever attempt at the London Marathon was plagued with me having to stop and deal with blisters. Sitting on the curb rubbing enormous amounts of Vaseline all over my feet was a painful experience, cost me in terms of time.

After 700 career games of football, my body shows the scars accordingly and I now know exactly what I need. I have very pronated (flat) feet, so I need a neutral shoe, after numerous knee operations I need a highly cushioned shoe to protect my knee joints, and to prevent my Achilles becoming sore I need a heel drop of 6-8mm, I therefore run on roads with Nikes Flyknit’s and off-road with Saucony’s Endorphin Trails.

Most good running shoe shops will do a 3-D scan of your feet to find exactly which shoe is right for you, just like a cyclist is measured with a bike it is worth spending a bit more, if you’re going to spend a long time in your shoes, you need to enjoy being in them.

  1. Routes

Change the routes and terrain that you run on, I mix my runs up now between road runs. trail runs, and a mixture of both, just to freshen the stimulus on both my mind and body. I will also mix at the nature of the work out with steady paced runs, speed workouts and hill runs to improve cardiovascular health, lactate threshold and strength.

Of course, if I am training for a marathon or 10km then most of my running will be done on the roads, but if I’ve not got an event in mind then I find running off road, through the trials much more mentally stimulating, I’m out in nature and I find that lifts my mood and improves my mental health enormously.

I used to run out from my house all the time but now I’m more than happy to jump in the car, and drive to a location that I find particularly enjoyable and run from there.

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation

Running increases blood flow to the brain, it increases brain size and neural activity both at the time of running and over time. Running has been scientifically proven to help cognitive function.

Running helps me think more clearly, I found a lot of inspiration for my talks and content whilst running and indeed all of this article was spoken into a Dictaphone whilst out running and transcribed on my return.

I find that I resolve a lot of issues in my mind, one of our emotional, relationship business, whatever it is I find the clarity of thought process whilst out running. Of course, I do use this time to unwind but also if there is something that needs my attention it’s a great opportunity to do so whilst running.

  1. Set Micro Goals

Break down your run into a series of smaller micro goals. You can do this in a number of ways, by running for a few minutes, then walking for a minute and repeating this throughout, or you could run to a marker point like a lamppost in the distance and then walk for a minute. This pattern helps to break down the a full run which can help with increased anxiety and stress.

Over time, the idea is to increase the distance or time blocks that we work, and reducing rest, creating a progressive overload which is essential for improvement.

Start off with very small micro goals which are easy to achieve, each successful achievement improves confidence, mood and enjoyment of the process.

  1. Streeeeeeeeeeeeetch

Stretching out before and after your run is essential to keep you feeling good. Ideally, we should be stretching throughout the week as part of our fitness routine as this is fundamental to us feeling supple and flexible which helps to enjoy running.

Just five minutes a day stretching out calves, hamstrings, quads and glute will have a significant impact on our flexibility and joint range of movement.

A good way to make these part of our daily routine is to schedule them at times when we are effectively wasting time, sounds cray in today’s busy world, but it could be done every time you wait for the kettle to boil or during the commercial breaks whist watching the TV, you’ll be surprised how much time this allows us to perform this vital practice.

10. Resilience

Running can be tough, even regular runners find it tough some days. Often people say to me, “

it’s easy for you, I find it harder than you do”

Well, here is the secret, it isn’t any easier for me than anyone else, I might run faster than some, and I definitely run slower than some, I have days when I feel good and feel like I could run all day, but there are others where I fight with both my mind and body with a sense of lethargy throughout. I understand this and I embrace it no matter how I feel, In fact, on the days when I don’t feel so good, still going out and pushing through is a great way to improve resilience, by subjecting ourselves to deliberate managed stressors like this, improves our ability to deal with similar stresses when they occur unexpectedly in our daily lives.

 

As with any new practice, start out slow and increase over time, one of the biggest reasons people fail when training for a half marathon or marathon, is that they do too much, too soon, overloading both mind and body, resulting in them finding the challenge too tough and giving up, or becoming injured.

It’s better to feel like you can do more than overloading yourself and stressing yourself in the process.

As with any new routine, try and schedule your runs into your week, at a time that suits you and it’s safe to do so. Obviously with the nights becoming darker earlier, running off-road in the woods becomes less appealing.

 

There is something magical about running, after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind.

A bit further yet, and what you have before you laid bare, is the soul.

Kristin Armstrong

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