How to Enjoy Running

Last night I got an email from a friend, which started like this:

How do you enjoy running? I want to like it, but I don’t.

Actually, I get asked this question fairly frequently, so I thought I’d answer it here.

I don’t always enjoy running. Sometimes, it’s miserable, like on those 106 degree days, or if it’s too cold and I can’t feel my feet (which happens frequently because I have Raynaud’s disease), or if I’m under the weather, tired, nursing an injury, and so on. On those days, I try to make myself run anyway, so I’m in good shape and can enjoy a better run on another day.

And 9.5 times out of 10, I don’t feel like going for a run even on a good day, but I force myself to. Then at around mile 2, I start feeling great, and then I have a fun run. So the trick is to keep doing it until you do enjoy it, which makes no sense to someone who has no desire to run. But this idea of enjoying running gives hope to those of you who want to run and eventually enjoy it.

Even when you start running, there should be some part of your run that you enjoy, such as:

  • the scenery around you
  • your running mix
  • your running partner
  • the sense of accomplishment you feel from trying something new
  • the challenge of pushing your limits
  • knowing you are taking steps toward better health and a happier life
  • the endorphins kicking in after your run

If you absolutely hate running and can’t think of a single thing you like about it, maybe it’s not the thing for you. Maybe you’d prefer a nice long walk, yoga, boxing, swimming, cycling, rowing, or another activity altogether. And that’s ok, too. (Still, I recommend giving running a try and keeping at it for a while, just to make sure.)

Here’s a photo from the 2012 Hawk Hundred marathon, which shows how being prepared can also help you enjoy a run.

What’s not shown in the photo is the months of training that led up to this run — especially those miserable hot and humid training runs — the two-week taper, nutrition and hydration, a good night’s sleep, and a power breakfast of steel-cut oats, coffee, and a protein bar. Or in Dan’s case, the two Quik Trip donuts he had on the way to the run, and the regret he had for not bringing more water.

By the numbers:

  1. My lucky running hat (10th anniversary Greaserama cap)
  2. Headphones to hear my killer running mix when I need a pick-me-up
  3. Easy access to Gu packs, salt tabs, lip balm, and paper towels (in case of an emergency pitstop)
  4. iPhone with my killer running mix and to call 911 when Dan’s kidneys failed, which I told him would happen because he took Advil before the run
  5. Water hose to 2 liters in my backpack (it was silly to have the hose running across my body like that, but I didn’t actually notice I was doing that until I saw the photos, so I guess it worked ok)
  6. Number folded and secured to my skirt so it was out of my way (thanks to Coleen’s expert running advice on how to ‘origami’ my number)
  7. I just wanted to point out how cool my thigh looks in this shot, thanks to the awesome photographer, Chris Wristen
  8. Dirty Girl Gaiters to keep the rocks and whatnot out of my shoes and off my ankles
  9. Icebreaker arm warmers, which I pushed down when it warmed up that morning
  10. A hanky for whatever kind of emergencies (and mostly because I haven’t mastered the farmer’s blow yet)
  11. A fun running buddy for company

Oh, and don’t let the pained expression on my face fool you. I was actually having fun here and feeling great, even though I was asking the race volunteers, “Are we there yet?!”

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