Talk to any relationship counselor and they might say something like, “Love takes effort.” Well, when it comes to your relationship with running, I might say that a truer phrase has never been spoken.
It seems to be the case that most people either love or hate to run — there isn’t much middle ground. Running either represents glorious freedom or grueling punishment depending on who you ask. No doubt, some people are definitely born to run and don’t think twice about using the extra 30 minutes in their day to go out for a jog. For others, it doesn’t feel like the physical stress of exercise is the best way to balance the general stress of their day — especially during the wildly unpredictable times we’re currently navigating (#2020).
If you’re in that second camp, let me just say — you’re not alone. But if you reframe what it means to go out for a run, or even what it means to be a runner in the first place, maybe you can start to see it as less of a hurdle and more of an open course for you to define.
Before we get to the good stuff, it’s always wise to assess your equipment—your trusty running shoes! If you’re in need of new ones, our favorites for just about any runner of any level are the Ride and Guide. They’ve got the perfect blend of lightweight and springy cushioning that lets you lace up and focus on nothing but the road ahead.
Now, here are some running tips to consider:
- Going for a run doesn’t have to mean running the whole time. No one’s chasing you (we hope). Or timing you for that matter. If you get tired, take a break. Walk a bit. Find a Stop sign and try some quad or hamstring stretches while you catch your breath. Snap an artsy photo of some foliage. Sit on a curb and appreciate the fact that you got outside and claimed some time for yourself today. And then when your breathing gets a little lighter (or you get bored, whichever comes first), get up and keep going for a bit longer. Rinse. Repeat. Leave any self-imposed pressure or expectations at the door and eventually those stretches between breaks will start to get longer as running feels easier.
- Think in time instead of distance. If metrics aren’t for you, consider ditching the run tracker and just choosing a length of time that fits with your schedule. Head out the door, start moving in one direction, and once you hit half of your allotted time, turn around and head home. It can be that simple.
- Try an audio-guided run. There’s no shortage of fitness content out there these days, and some apps or free channels provide podcast-like running workouts set to music. You get the feeling of being in a fitness class with the guidance and motivation of a trainer, but with way less pressure and the flexibility to choose when and where you check the box for the day.
- Play around with intervals. An old standby in any runner’s toolkit, intervals can be interpreted in a million different ways. If you’re on a track or have a city block to work with, imagine the four sides being their own zone. Run along the first length, walk the second, run the third, and then walk the fourth. Repeat for however many laps you’d like or set a timer and try to complete as many rounds as possible in a given amount of time. Work toward more laps as you get more used to the routine or take the same principle to a straight stretch of road using streetlights as your markers.
- Let the rhythm take over. For the musically inclined, put on a playlist and start walking or jogging at a comfortable pace. Once the chorus kicks in, pick up the pace and run. Depending on the tempo of the song, sometimes that only means 20 seconds of running at a time. That’s not so bad, right? You might even surprise yourself and keep running past the break without even thinking of it. Magic!
So, there you have it — a few tips and tricks for how to change your perspective on running. Remember that even though you can choose to make it competitive, running itself doesn’t mean racing. It just means putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again. How fast you choose to do it is up to you. And if you decide to give it a shot and stick with it for a few weeks, we guarantee it will start to feel easier and you might even feel a hint of excitement as you lace up and head out. Just like with any relationship, it’ll take time until you feel comfortable saying the big “L” word. And let’s be real — maybe you won’t ever get to that point. And that’s okay too. Because the beauty of running is that it’ll always be there for you when you need it. Even if you need to take a break every once in a while.