How to Love Running

How to Love Running

Before we get started, I need the record to clearly state that I definitely have not always loved running.

I use to be that person who ran only if I was being chased. I started running with the hope that it would help me get back into my skinny jeans – and it totally worked. Once I realized running was my ticket to serious weight loss, and then maintaining said weight loss, there was no turning back.

For a long time I only ran because it kept the scale moving in the right direction. I loved the results I saw from running – but I would dread every run. The only thing that kept me lacing up my shoes was knowing that it stopped sucking quite so much once I got past the first mile. But after a couple years of slugging through runs to keep the scale from going up, somewhere along the way I started to love it.

I went from skinny jean runner to running because it meant I could have five cookies instead of one and my pants would still fasten. Now I run because it makes me feel incredible, strong and confident. Who knew you can run because you actually enjoy it instead of having to be pursued by your neighbor’s ferocious dog?

Here’s how I found my way to being the running freak I never dreamed I could be.

1. Eat Your Veggies

Chowing vegetables is at #1 for a reason. Forget pasta, veggies are where it’s at. You need to fuel your runs with the best foods you can find if you want running to feel good.  Once I started eating greens every day, running started get a lot easier.

Want to be lean mean running machine? Throw spinach in a smoothie.  Snack on green pepper slices before dinner.  Stuff your sandwiches and wraps full of mixed greens.  Swap out your lunchtime pretzels with a side of veggies.  Don’t be afraid of a salad every day. Forget your daily bread, daily greens will flip the feel good switch.

What do bunnies eats? Grass. How to bunnies run? Fast. Enough said.

2. Limit the Junk

Food, that is.  Eating well is important and will absolutely impact how your runs feel – but any food you eat that is nutritionally void will impact how your runs feel too – even if you eat a lot of good grub with the junky chow.  I’m not saying “never” (because I certainly don’t!) but know that your body works hard and expends a lot of energy digesting frankenfoods – more so than it does digesting whole, clean foods.

Don’t spend your energy digesting junk food – save it for the pavement!

3. Run with Music

Music was a great distraction when I was first got started and didn’t want to think too hard about what the heck I was doing.  Putting together a new playlist is a great way to get excited about your next run as well.  And hey, there’s nothing like running through your neighborhood at the crack of dawn singing to Eminem’s Lose Yourself at the top of your lungs.  Your neighbors will thank you for being such an awesome role model and motivating them to get out of bed early and get out there.  Bonus!

4. More Fun Gadgets

For the first five years of my running career I only used a stop watch – but as a certified numbers nerd, I can’t deny that I love my Garmin 405.  There’s something so satisfying about coming back from a run to see your average pace, distance, time, speed and calories burned after every run (and bike ride too!)  It’s almost like my computer pats me on the back each time.

Thanks Computer, that means a lot.

5. But Leave The Gadgets Home Sometimes Too

As much as I love running to the beat of a good tune or knowing my exact pace with a quick glance at my wrist, there’s something very enjoyable about running just to run.  No iPod, no Garmin, no nothing.  It’s ok to not know how far or how long or how fast you went every time.  It’s nice to listen to the birds, the bees, the flowers, the trees, the sound your own breath, the voices in your head.

(Mine told me to write that.)

6. Buy Good Sneakers

A lesson I learned the hard way – you need some decent kicks. If you like knee pain, hip pain, black toenails that fall off and blisters that make you hobble around like an old man, then running in sneakers that are too old and too small are where it’s at. While black toenails do make for some fabulous conversation at parties, buying sneakers a full size up has allowed me to talk about other things at social gatherings – like flesh colored toe nails.

The homeboys and girls at your local running store are ready to hook you up, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

7. And Try Running Without Shoes As Well

Either au natural or with some minimalist shoes, barefooting is something that’s definitely worth a try and can add a new dimension and challenge to your every day runs.  Variety is the spice of life, yes?

8. Buy Good Clothes

Cotton is not your friend when you are running. That includes socks too. Sweat + cotton = chaffing in spots you didn’t think were possible to chafe. If you want running to be a lot less angry and red, buy some some good gear.  You don’t need a huge running wardrobe – just a few key items can make running a lot more comfortable.

9. Train for Something

Whether it’s a 5K, a 10K, half marathon or marathon, running with a goal like an impending race is a way to give your runs some purpose. Having a race date scrawled on the calendar can be all the reason you need to drag yourself out of bed, tie your sneakers on and get yourself out the door before you’ve even rubbed the sleep out of your eyes.

10. Surround Yourself with Runners

Humans are social creatures. We tend to pick up on the habits of our peers. The more you hang out with runners, talk about running, think about running, the more excited you’ll become about running. When you’re buying your sneaks, ask the running store peeps if they can give you the 411 on running groups in the area.  Online forums and personal blogs are other great ways to feel more connected to others who love running or are trying to get into the habit.

11. Run with a Buddy

I enjoy my solo runs, but running with a partner or a group from time to time can increase the fun factor. The time seems to pass so much faster with a friend. Your best bet is to find a big burly man friend who has a key to your house and can drag you out of bed if you fail to show up for a running date.

12. Run All Year Round

I’ve been running for nearly ten years now and only by accident did I discover the joy of running through all four seasons. Running in the heat of the summer makes me long for the days of bitter wind, slush filled roads and black ice. Winter running makes me look forward to blistering heat, sunburn and bugs that try to keep the pace with you. It’s all about perspective.

13. Run Some Place Else

Run some place else in your city or town.  Drive or ride your bike to a park.  Head to a friend’s house and run their usual routes with them.  Map out a new route or find a track to run on.  Running somewhere different is a great way to keep it fresh and new.

14. Read about Running

Reading about anything – whether it’s cooking, parenting, health, underwater basket weaving or running; it gets me pumped to get out there and do it. Follow the Reading Rainbow and you’ll find your inspiration and motivation.

Blogs, books, magazines – read all about it!

15. Lose Weight

Running is easier when you are lighter on your feet.  The whole reason I started running was to lose weight, and I will forever remember the moment (20 pounds lighter) that I thought gosh, this doesn’t suck quite so much anymore!

Running can be your ticket to weight loss, and weight loss can be your ticket to easier running.  Is that the opposite of a Catch-22?  Either way, it works – and as an added bonus, your pace will likely pick up as you drop some pounds too.

16. Rest

Rest and recovery days are just as important as training days.  Don’t underestimate the importance of rest and recovery!  You worked hard, give your body proper time to repair itself and you’ll come back stronger for your next run.  You’ll need time to practice your underwater basket weaving skills anyway.

17. Get Enough Sleep

This one piggy backs on “Rest”, but running feels so much better when you’re getting proper sleep!  Regular running makes you sleep like a rock too.

18. Run Fast

Like my marathon training coach Hal Higdon says, if you want to run fast, you have to run fast! Incorporate some speed work into your running routine to make things more interesting and before you know it you’ll start to notice your regular runs are getting done in less time.

19. Run Slow

It took me a while to figure this one out, but there’s a lot to be gained from running a slower pace. Be the bunny, but be the turtle too. Turtles eat weeds and they’ve got lots of endurance to go the long haul. Run slow to run long. I’d love to see what happens if a bunny and a turtle ran a long race together.

Oh, wait.

20. Get on the Trails

Trail running is loads of fun and a completely different experience than running on the road.  It gets you someplace new and is the perfect excuse to run slow.  See #13 and #19.  Study the trail map carefully before you go – in fact, print it out and take it with you. Better yet, go with the trail running group you met thanks to #10 or sign up for a trail race that has been clearly marked and mapped out by someone else.

For me, Trail Race = Mindless Trail Running.

21. Just Run

If you want to run and don’t want to hate it, then just get out there and run. Running can do amazing things for your body, your mind and your soul – but you’ve got to keep doing it.  You’ve got to run through the sucky parts to get to the good stuff.  Just get out there and run.  And then run some more.  Keep racking up the miles and somewhere along the way you’ll realize you love it.

*This post was originally written as a guest post for Holly, The Healthyeverythingtarian but has been modified slightly from the original – the reasons to love running just keep coming!

51 Responses

  • “What do bunnies eats? Grass. How to bunnies run? Fast. Enough said.” Genius.

  • Meg says:

    I love this page! As I was reading I kept finding myself saying “exactly!” I couldn’t agree more with your tips! I stumbled across your blog tonight and am looking forward to reading more.

  • Amy says:

    Hi there–I came to your blog today and am really enjoying looking through it. I’m curious–do you run in the rain and what do you wear?

    • Alison says:

      Hi Amy! Yes, I will run in the rain if I have to, but really try to avoid it if I can. If I run in the rain though I usually wear my trail shoes and a rain coat with a hood, and then just running pants or short, depending on the temp. If it’s really coming down hard though I just postpone my run for later in the day or find something to inside instead, like yoga at home or hit the gym if I really want to run but I’m not in the mood to get soaked!

  • Amy says:

    Hey Alison, what are some of your favorite songs to run to?

    • Alison says:

      Some of my all time favorite running songs are Starry Eyed Surpise by Paul Oakenfold, Lose Yourself by Eminem (See #2!), Forever by Chris Brown… honestly anything that I’m really liking at the moment gets added to my running playlist no matter what tempo! If it’s a good song, it still gets me moving!

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  • Alison, I mentioned this post on my blog, the title of my post was ‘Random much?…’ because I was all over the place in that blog… but looking at that title here, looks like I’m being mean… that was definitely not my intention!… I think your blog is great and I’ve found your tips for loving running very helpful! :)

    ~nic

  • Emily says:

    Okay, so I just came across your site and am so inspired! I’m 5’8, but I was at the same starting weight as you, and lost the same amount of weight with the same methods. I’m now trying to lose the last 10 lbs and am just now thinking about picking up exercise (better late than never). I want to be a runner (although I’m not quite sure if I want to run.. :p). I’m planning on starting the couch to 5k program one the snow melts a bit. Also, I’ve been battling the binge in the past month or so, and your site helped me regain my optimism. Thank you !!

  • Belinda says:

    This article is genius! I love it!

  • John from NJ says:

    I run for the sheer exhilaration of serotonin being secreted in my brain. I feel the release anywhere from 15-20 mins(depending on my mood prior to the run)And might I tell you it is addicting! I enjoyed reading your story!

    • Alison says:

      Thanks John! Quite interesting that you feel the release in the middle of your run! I don’t really feel anything until I’m done, but I definitely always feel amazing when I get home, no doubt about it.

  • John from NJ says:

    I ment to ask how long do you run for? And do you change pace?
    I tend to run anywhere from 45 mins to an hour daily.
    And during those runs I pick up the hussle for about 15 minutes which really get’s things sparking in your body..

    • Alison says:

      Sorry so late responding to this comment (didn’t show up in my inbox) but I aim for 40 minutes on any given day, 30 minutes at a minimum, 60 minutes being the upper limit unless I’m training for a long distance race like a half or full marathon.

      • Lindy says:

        Hi Alison,
        As a complete newbie to the running I have found your blog page very informative – particularly about food!.
        I have just completed C25K where the advice is very much have a rest day between runs. But you seem to be saying you run every day. Have I got that right? I ran yesterday morning for 30 minutes and would quite like to have gone again this morning. Is it o.k. to run every day?

        • Hi Lindy,
          Sorry for the misunderstanding, no, I don’t run every day. At the moment I’ve cut way back on run and only run once a week (walking or riding my bike other days) but I’ve never run every day and don’t suggest that to anyone… some people do, but I think it’s unnecessary to run every day if health is what you’re after. Sorry if the “any given day” in my comment was confusing, I just meant that any day that I was running, I would aim for 40 – 60 minutes. (At this point I keep it between 30 – 40.) 2-3 days a week was normal for me, 4 days a week was pretty much my max! Rest days are definitely important, runs feel better when you’re rested and recovered.

          Congrats on completing the C25K! It sounds like it’s going well for you!

  • Just found your blog through various other blogs (I’m not really sure of the wayward path …) but I love it. I want to love running. I bought myself running shoes for Christmas (and some for my hubby too). I can’t quite motivate him to go running with me. He says he will and then when I’m ready to go–no. So then I become unmotivated and sulk upstairs to use the elliptical which is super boring to me. Or I do an exercise DVD which is OK, but not as exciting as lacing up shoes and just GOING! So, thanks for the inspiration. I love the tips! I love greens, I need to love them more. I want to a be a bunny. I guess I need to just go out there and do it by myself if it’s going to get done. Or take one of our dogs with us (I always feel bad about leaving one behind though …) Thanks!

  • I wish I loved running, I’ve tried all your tips, but I get horrible cramps after about 30 seconds of running. I’ll keep trying though…

    • Alison says:

      Aw Brandon that sucks – leg cramps? Stomach cramps? I went with the run-walk-run-walk approach in the beginning… I definitely suggest sticking with it if you want to be a runner, it can be challenging when you first get started.

    • Girl with a Plan says:

      Hey! Sorry this is a little late, but I just read it….If the cramp in in your upper right abdomen, drink more water prior to your run (NOT chugging…we are talking hours prior). If it is your upper left abdomen, you are fatigued and should try to go a little slower with nice deep breaths (hands on your had while taking deep breaths can help faster). If it is leg muscle cramps (not just sore from warming up still) try eating a banana a few hour prior with extra water. Hope this helps!

    • Brandi Lee says:

      Kind of a late response, but If it’s the side stitch type of cramp (and you’re getting plenty of water) it may be from the way your ligaments are stretching as you breathe and run. I used to run in college and got side stitches all the time, until I found an article that talks about the ligament problem. This is pretty easily solved, just by exhaling when your left foot hits the ground, instead of your right. I tried it and it worked wonders for me!

  • Timothy says:

    Hey,

    I like he energy and enthusiasm of your blog post. It made me smile. Keep up the good work and do your best to avoid injuries. I’m injured right now and am impatient to get back to my physical activities.

  • Kimmy says:

    Hi Alison……any suggestions on how to beat this heat and humidity? My time has slowed way down and the humidity just kills my breathing. Any helpful suggestions?

    • Alison says:

      Hey Kimmy, what time of day do you typically run? This time of year I have to run early or not at all. The evenings could be worth considering depending on what your schedule looks like and what your energy level is by the end of the day. I avoid running much beyond 8am on the hot and humid days.

      The heat and humidity absolutely zaps my energy and my pace slows down as well. Carrying a small water bottle can help (you can get one made specifically for runners at an athletic/running store) but the best advice I have is to run early or late and try to avoid the extreme weather conditions as best you can.

  • Lili says:

    How long did it take you to lose 20 pounds?

  • Tsipora Hacker says:

    Hi! I’m only 15 years old, 5’2, but I’m 120 pounds. I play soccer, so Im used to sprints more than distance. I even ran track for sprints. But I would like to start running because my stomach isn’t as toned as Id like it to be. I know the only way is running because I do core and ab workouts all the time. The thing is I really don’t know where to start. My mile time is about 8:30, and I wish it was down to 6:30. Also, after the mile, I feel exhausted. We have to run 2 miles under 18 minutes for soccer, and I usually get 17 minutes. How can I get to 13-14 minutes, and where do I start???? Thank you!!!

  • jessica says:

    you’re an idiot. I”ve never commented on an article before with a mean comment because I find it a waste of my time and degrading to the author’s intentions when writing the article; but you’re absolutely an idiot.

  • Catie says:

    hey jessie whats up with the hating? this was an epic article. im 14 and i just got into running about a montha dn ahalf ago! i love getting shoes cuz its so fun to break them in. i am nursing shin splints right now… so frowny face im stuck on the elptical and bike for a while. thanks for this , this makes me want to run run run! (after shinsplints)

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  • hearty says:

    I am so glad I found your blog..great info

  • Joe K says:

    What a great entry.

    I just started running (okay I only ran twice in three week and hated it) and find it hard to get out there and do it regularly. Your article has inspired me and I am actually excited to get out there and use the tips you have offered.

    Thanks so much for writing.

    Goodbye love-handles!

  • Belinda says:

    Running will change your life. It’s the best stress buster there is around.

    My husband always says he wouldn’t have married me if I hadn’t have started running haha

  • Lindy says:

    I found C25K on NHS website and read a lot of the blogs about how uplifting running is, how much energy you gain, what a stress buster it is etc etc.
    Was really up for it and completed the course last week. But I don’t really enjoy the running. I’ve got myself a whole lot more work to do with all the extra washing and I feel exhausted all the time. I tried a Parkrun last Saturday but gave up after only 500 yards feeling really grotty and not able to fill my lungs enough.
    I have a lot of problems due to a mentally ill daughter on the other side of the world which has gone on for a very long time, and my mother died last month after a protracted LCP time.
    I just feel exhausted all the time and do not really feel all the wonderful benefits people talk about. I had hoped the running would calm my stresses a bit.
    I don’t know how to go about it any more.

    • Danni says:

      Hi Lindy. I’m really sorry to hear about your mother. I suppose it’s a good thing that you’re looking at ways to manage stress in a practical way, and had sought out running. That sounds like, along with matters with your daughter, quite a big thing to try and deal with.

      I haven’t had to deal with anything as significant as that. However I do always have washing and other chores that seem to occupy my time over the good things I could be doing for myself, like you do! I do happen to fit in running about three times a week but it has been a real journey having started running about eight years ago.

      One big thing I have discovered recently is how walking has similar effects – helping with stress, allowing you to connect with the outdoor environment and helping with health goals. While it doesn’t have the same cardiovascular workout as running, it really helps with improving strength, joint health and mobility – not to mention that it expends the same calories as running the same distance. I feel as though the same points that Alison in this blog has pointed out for running can apply to walking. I feel like I should have started out walking before I started running!

      Thanks, Alison, for your blog.

      All the best to you, Lindy. You sound like a very thoughtful person, thinking about the people around you. I hope you get to think about yourself more and reach those fitness goals! Same goes for everyone who is trying to reach theirs!

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  • Bleriotine says:

    #7 au naturEl ;)
    I really enjoy your blog, that’s quite true when you’re saying that reading others’ blog is given you some motivation.

    I used to run, and began to really like it before I got hurt. It’s really hard to think I must restart all over. I’ll try to keep walking before beginning to run, but I hope I’ll feel that sweet exhaustion and happiness of good work done again :)

    Keep on your blog ! And on your runs !



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