Sunday, November 7, 2010

how to make yourself like running

Growing up, I hated running. I dreaded the day we ran "the mile" for PE, and since I didn't play sports in high school I never had to make myself do it. It wasn't until I had been working out at the gym (elliptical, spin classes, etc.) that I realized I was fit enough to run a few miles, I just didn't like it. I would go through phases where, for a couple weeks, I would run 2 or 3 miles some evenings and then quit for a month or two. I remember the first time I got it in my head that I wanted to break the five mile barrier. I psyched myself up, mapped my route, and did it. Once. And didn't attempt again for a year. Then I did it again, and this time it only took me 6 months to do it a third time, and then a couple months for another time, and then the next thing you know I wound up training for a half marathon. I'm still not quite positive how I got there... But, I have been thinking recently how I got from dreading running to kind-of-maybe-sometimes liking it. And here's what I came up with.

photo from here
1. Running is mental, mental, mental. Unless there are real physical limitations (injuries or obesity) you can run- even for a little. Most of the times I've cut my runs short or gone slower than I had planned were due to me talking myself out of it. Know your weaknesses- do you need an iPod with  great playlist to keep you going? Are you going to be more motivated in the morning? Do you need a running buddy? It's amazing how quickly time passes when you're chatting with a friend.

2. Focus on how great you'll feel after. Whenever I think about cutting out a few miles and heading home early, I always think about how proud I'll be to bust in the door and exclaim how many miles I completed.  I have friends at work that I know won't think it's weird when I tell them what I did that morning, or I call my mom or runner sister to share my accomplishment. Telling other active people about your plan to run X miles tomorrow morning keeps you accountable to your goals and may maintain motivation. I think about how great I feel afterward, and how I'm much more likely to stay on track the rest of the day. Most people find that they crave healthier food when they are regularly exercising.

photo from here
3. Sign up for a race. There are a TON of websites, articles, and even apps that help newbies and non-runners train for 5ks. A 5k is a great goal to shoot for- 3.1 miles is an accomplishable distance, yet still impressive to our couch dwelling colleagues. And there's nothing like a race to get you excited and jazzed up about running. You get a cool tshirt to wear and impress people! You get a number to stick on your wall! You may even get a medal- just for finishing! "When we sign up for a race, we become athletes", says coach Patti Finke. "We take better care of ourselves. We train properly, eat in a healthy manner, and get enough sleep." Running a 5k race means you're committed to something- you're training.

4. Reward yourself- preferably without food. Unfortunately, most people (myself included) automatically think of food as ways of treating ourselves. Of course there are healthy ways to do this, like maybe a lunch at Subway when you normally pack PB&J, or a fresh pineapple. But try to come up with some non food rewards for everyday runs and to mark milestones. It could be buying a couple songs on iTunes, reserving a special body wash exclusively for post-run showers, or a massage from a very supportive spouse.

5. Look the part. Having cute workout clothes to choose from makes me look forward to working out. Don't feel like you need to spend an arm and a leg, either. Some of my favorite tanks or shorts have come from Target or discount stores like T.J.Maxx or Marshalls. There may be a consignment store in your area for outdoors goods- we love love love Second Track Sports in Salt Lake.

6. Become a part of the culture. I think one of the biggest changes in my attitude towards running is the focus I put on thinking of myself as a fit person. I added a bunch of fitness blogs to my google reader and hang bib numbers in my cubicle to remind myself of the lifestyle I have chosen to live. Entering a race and even shopping in athletic stores makes you feel initiated into the casual running scene. Sure, I still feel like I'm pretending to be a "runner", but who cares? "Fake it 'till you make it" is a good enough motto for me.


  1. May I add to this list to buy an awesome sports bra! It just is like icing on the cake! Also, its very SUPPORTIVE of all your running needs- haha, I am so funny.

  2. Look who's blog stalking you now! I think that signing up for a race is one of the best things to get you excited about it. It gives you a time frame and a goal. When I was training for my half marathon I knew I had to run X number of miles per week otherwise I would be shooting myself come the 13.1 whopper I decided to put myself through. And, I second Katherine's comment on the sport's bra.

  3. I m in the same phase where u started.......can run on the treadmill but have a mental block abt running in the park......Your write-up is a big motivator for me. Will surely do my mental workout first and then go for it in the track.......Hope to share my journey of how i ran my first 5 mile race.....really soooooonnnnnn.

  4. Thank you for your sharing, my desire to make myself love running led me to this blog. Running will be one of my goals in 2015!