How You Can Learn To Love Running

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Back in high school, running was my worst enemy, I was that person that dreaded (and constantly tried to avoid) the mile run at the start of every school term. I hated running, and constantly told myself I was bad at it, so there was no point in trying. But fast forward to now, and sport is a big part of my life that I absolutely love! Swimming, cycling, running, lifting weights, you name it, & I enjoy it - which is seriously something I never get bored of saying because it is worlds away from the exercise-phobe I always used to be. But, of all of the exercises I now enjoy, learning to love my old nemesis, running, is one of my greatest achievements so here are some of the ways I transformed myself from a run-hater to a runner!

Find a buddy. While for some people, running alone is a great way to zone out and think, for me running alone is just a tad boring. Jay and I always run together and having a running partner never fails to keep me on track. For one thing, there's always someone to chat to which usually makes runs feel faster, it's also a useful pacing technique that can help to indicate when you need to push yourself a little more and when to slow it down. But mainly, having a buddy helps to keep you accountable, they'll be there to encourage you when you're lacking motivation which is so important because often, when you don't fancy a run, it's not energy you're lacking but motivation!

Don't run too fast. Actively slowing yourself down when you're trying to get into running might seem a little counter productive but pushing yourself too hard in your first few sessions is a mistake that's all too easy to make. Whether you're trying to match the pace of an experienced runner you've seen in the park or you just think that you need to go full gas, all of the time, it's important to remember that your fastest pace isn't a sustainable pace. While you should definitely feel challenged by your running pace, the majority of your runs should be at a talking pace - save your sprints for the finish line! It's easy to get disheartened and feel like you're a terrible runner if you start too fast and can't keep up your pace, so by slowing down to a manageable pace, you'll enjoy your runs a lot more, and because you'll be able to go for longer, you'll see your speed increasing in no time!

Follow a plan. As a compulsive list maker, I'm a firm believer that structure is key to, well, everything, but it's especially important when you're trying to form a new habit. Your plan can be as detailed or as basic as you like, whether you set yourself a weekly target for how many runs you'd like to go on or how much distance you'd like to cover, or you're following a beginners plan like Couch to 5k, meeting targets is a great way to motivate yourself. For me, simply setting a minimum amount of weekly runs is enough to keep me on track and, knowing that I'm meeting my goals always makes my runs more enjoyable.

Keep track of your runs. Tracking your runs isn't something you need to do religiously but it is a great motivator. By loosely keeping track of your runs with an app like Strava or a Fitbit, you'll know how far you're running and how fast you can go, inevitably if you're running consistently, you'll soon be running faster and farther and seeing your progression will never fail to make you feel good about yourself! Tracking your runs can also be a really great pacing tool, because any changes in your usual pace can help to indicate when it's time for a rest day and, rest days are just as important as running days because avoiding fatigue is crucial if you want to get the most out of your runs and really enjoy them.

Find a nice location. For me, location is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. When I run in nature, I run faster farther and enjoy myself far more than when I run through built up areas that make my runs feel like a chore. My favourite places to run are at two local parks where I can run through the woods and around lakes and really switch off and enjoy my surroundings as I go. Running in a dull area is just as monotonous as running on a treadmill and if you don't find somewhere that you love to run, your runs will get very tedious, very fast. Another way to keep your runs interesting is by switching up your routes regularly, because you'll love your sport a whole lot more if you know you're heading out on an interesting route in a place you love.

But most importantly, if you'd like to get into running, just get out there and get started because pushing yourself to make a start is always the hardest (but most rewarding) part!

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  1. Have you done the couch to 5k programme? How did you find it? I want to get into running as I've heard great things about how it can help with your anxiety. xx

    1. I haven't actually done the couch to 5k, I've heard that it's very steady paced with a mixture of running and walking & I know a lot of people have found it useful! Personally, I preferred a less structured approach when starting out and just tried to run as often as I could/wanted to and I gradually got faster and further! I've done a few 10k races now, and would say both approaches could work depending on how you prefer to run! Either way, definitely try and get out there because running really is therapeutic & i always feel better after a run!x