How to Make Running Enjoyable
Start Slowly and Be Willing to Stick with It: Be patient. Most people do not go for their first run and knock out 5 miles. It takes time to build up endurance, so be prepared to start slowly and ease into it. A gradual approach also helps prevent injury and frustration. You are far more likely to stick with it if you avoid overdoing it and exhausting yourself. Put it on Your Calendar/To-Do List: If you write it down, you are more likely to follow through with it. At the beginning of each week I pencil in all of my runs and workouts just like I would any other meeting, so I can be sure to set time aside. At the end of a run, I like to go back and write down my time and distance so I can keep a record of my progress. Set a Goal: Goals help with accountability and motivation. Whether that means signing up for a 5k, 10k, or half marathon, find something to make you get out there. You should also share your goals with friends and family, so they can hold you accountable and check your progress.
Research How to Become a Better Runner: Foam rolling, stretching, form, running shoes, etc., are all things to be considered. Make sure you understand proper form to not only avoid injury, but also to reap as many benefits as possible. Proper running shoes are also crucial and honestly make all the difference in the world. Some people need more arch support, some a wider toe box, and some a more neutral shoe-- just find what works best for your foot. Like anything else, it’s a learning process, and it requires patience and perseverance.
Fuel. Your. Body. It is so important to understand what your body needs and fuel yourself properly. Drink plenty of water. Eat when you are hungry. You will notice that you are hungrier when you first start running on a schedule, so you need to fuel your body with healthy, whole nutrients and not empty calories. Be sure you eat something before a run so your body has the fuel it needs to power you through a run. While I never eat immediately before a run, I do try to have a snack about an hour before. For runs 10+ miles, energy gummies are helpful in replenishing electrolytes and sugars.
Stretch and Foam Roll: Warm- up and stretch beforehand and cool down and foam roll after. I used to put on my running shoes and take off, but now that I have taken the time to start with a short jog and stretch before I begin running, I have noticed a huge difference. After my run, I walk for a couple minutes to gradually slow my heart rate. Finally, I stretch for about 20 minutes and foam roll to avoid muscle cramps. I have really tight hamstrings and IT bands, so foam rolling is crucial for me.
Find a Place You Enjoy: I love changing up the scenery and terrain. Some days I love a run around my neighborhood where I pass friends on the sidewalk and look at houses. Other days, I love taking in the scenery of a beautiful park. Percy Warner and Belle Meade Boulevard are my two favorite places to run-- there are some great trails and the scenery is lovely. Create a Great Playlist: Music always helps me run so much faster. Upbeat music helps set a quick pace and keeps me motivated on days that I’m dragging. Just Enjoy It: At the end of the day, running is an activity that provides health benefits, but it is also meant to be enjoyable. It is something you can do sans equipment, by yourself, or with a group of friends. In a previous post, I talked about taking time for yourself each day, and going for a run is a perfect way to do so.
Written by Amanda Dreher for Live Laugh Love Nashville