Let me share a secret: I hate running. I always have, but you can become a runner when you hate running. Keep reading.
Usually in life, other than a job you may not like but you’re forced to keep, we don’t usually keep doing things we hate. Yet here I am, running three or four times a week.
I guess it makes me a runner, but not because I like it.
I run because I like what it does for my body. I like giving my heart a good workout, boosting my metabolism, toning my thighs and glutes and maybe most importantly, eating <mostly> like I want to without packing on pounds.
But I don’t don’t that I’ll ever like the act of running itself.
Running is a spectacular workout, if your knees can take it, but every time I lace up my pricey running shoes — because you have to wear good shoes if you want to avoid foot injury — I cry a little inside. I’m instantly regretting that it’s my day to run and I start playing mind games on how I’ll get through it all.
“I’ll just knock out two miles. That’s easy. I’ll take one minute at a time.”
Then I start and I’m already hating it, thirty seconds in. (But in reality, when you get that first half-mile in, it does get easier.)
The mind games don’t stop there. They range from pretending I’m training for something really important to envisioning myself without any muffin top. OR I envision eating a muffin…because I ran.
It isn’t pretty inside my head when I’m running.
How DO you become a runner when you hate running though? It’s a serious of steps. Baby steps, because you can’t just put on those shoes and hit the pavement. There’s a build-up to distance and speed, starting with seeing your doctor. Running isn’t for everyone.
Get the right gear. If you feel frumpy or uncomfortable, scrap it and get other gear. Just like going out on a date, if you feel comfortable, the night goes better. I have a really cool pair of running leggings that I love the look of, but they do not love me back. They rolled down and I was constantly pulling them up while running. This is a distraction and it takes away from the experience, adding one more thing to worry about. If bright orange makes you feel energized and/or happy, buy the bright orange shirt. There are a few brands I love, including the Under Armour line, which feels good while looking good.
Fitness trackers are helpful if you want to track your steps and map out your run. I have a Garmin Forerunner that’s about two years old and I love it. It doesn’t have text capability but I’m okay with that. I have my phone with me anyway. The Garmin tracks my steps, my speed, elevation, sleep and more. I like knowing how long each split takes me so I can find out if I need to pick up the pace to have a new PR (personal record).
Shoes are everything. Get properly sized, try on shoes before you buy — both the left and the right — and walk around in them to check if they rub, slip or slide. Wear socks you’ll wear when running to get the best test. Be prepared to spend some extra money. I have gym shoes, trail shoes, treadmill shoes and street shoes. They range in price but solid arch support, light material, quality fabric, it all costs. You’ll be glad you spent the extra money. One blister and you’ll understand.
Also, replace your shoes often enough. If they just don’t feel right, or they have seen a lot of miles, it’s probably time to replace them.
Be safe. That bright orange shirt can help drivers see you if you have to run on any space shared with vehicles or bikes.
Once you’re comfortable and safe, then you move on to the next step of psyching yourself up for the run.
Running can be a relaxing, meditative event where you can really get away from it all. It can also be a “one more step…one more step…one more step” event. Even seasoned runners still have their days. Be prepared to possibly be out of breath, to get a cramp or for your shoe to come untied just when you hit your stride. And there will be sweat. Pull your hair back, wear proper eyewear and don’t take anything that you won’t want to carry for the whole thing. Even a 16 oz. water bottle can get heavy when you’re exhausted.
Map out the route. Apps are great, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be; sometimes overthinking is your enemy when it comes to fitness, so just get up and take off on a path you have in your head. (I do use a couple of apps, but they aren’t required.) Have an idea of where you’re going and have landmarks. These are very helpful when you are tired. Thinking “Once I see that street sign, I know I’m halfway-done” can be the boost you need to not quit.
Other mind games come easily as you start going. “I’ll just run until the next lamp post, then I’ll stop for one minute.” “I’ll count to 60, then I’ll walk for one minute.” “I’ll run 100 steps, then stop…” “I want a glass of wine tonight and that’s 110 calories.”
When I’m out there, it’s a huge series of mind games. “If I run a lot today, I can run less tomorrow” or “I want a glass of wine tonight and that’s 110 calories.” Some are better than others.
Today’s run, I was planning on only doing 1.5 miles. I’m still a little sore from snowboarding and didn’t think I’d be able to do more, but as I got going, I kept telling myself “Another half-mile.” Before I knew it, I was close to doing three miles straight at 5mph, and I was convincing myself I’ll get to it. And I did!
Run once, so you can say you’ve started running, and then run again. It really does get easier as you go along. Your body needs to ease into it. The Couch to 5k programs can be wonderful. A personal trainer is good, but just having an accountability partner, someone to run with, can work wonders.
Find a pretty place to run. I love one of the trails near my house, if not a series of smaller interconnected trails in my neighborhood. The main trail takes me through vineyards and alongside gardens and there’s often a mountain view. Flowers, wildlife, even some traffic off the freeway..okay, so that one’s not so exciting…all of these things take your mind off of the difficulty you may feel and make the run seemingly go faster. We’re all happier in a place we enjoy, and we perform better as well.
A treadmill at the gym can be just as positive of an environment, particularly in inclement weather.
I have a runner playlist on Rock My Run, but don’t play it so loud that you can’t hear what’s going on around you. Some bicyclists beep a horn and expect you to move, even if they can go around you. If you choose a playlist with a tempo that suits your pace, it can actually help you keep on target.
Learn some of the running terms. Fake it til you make it. If you can talk the running game, you’ll feel just that much of a runner.
Carve out time to run. If it becomes a chore, you’re going to dislike it even more. I mark it on my calendar weekly, so it becomes part of the plan and not something I squeeze in. If I’m prepared and psyched out and my gear is ready, I’m less likely to be resentful.
Whatever you do, remember it takes a few weeks to build a habit. Once you have a habit of activity, you’ll find you hate it less. I don’t know if you’ll ever like it, but you will hopefully like the results.
And I am happy with my results so far! I’ve been working on Project 2018 for 19 days now and I’m down almost four pounds. Onwards!