Spring/summer is a great time to fall in love with running. Running is an incredibly amazing exercise. It trims and tightens, leads to a very healthy heart, and is great for working out stress. Not to mention that it is just so simple; throw on shorts, a tank, running shoes, and head out the door. Despite all of the benefits it can seem like the most boring activity ever. Right!?
I used to really dislike running. As in if I ran a quarter of mile that was enough. Then junior year of college came around bringing an extra 20 pounds. So I found myself in the gym, trying to learn how to work in exercise and find that balance to get to and maintain a healthy weight. After a while the elliptical machines and the stairmaster started to get a little old and I was simply watching the clock. It was time to try something new. Running is hard, even if you are in shape, and I remember very clearly being quite intimidated by the treadmill and the people confidently pounding out their miles. But I decided to give it a go.
Overtime I built up my mileage and confidence through intervals. But while the challenge of building up that endurance was a nice feeling I was still finding myself to be overall bored with running. I was doing it for the calorie burn, not because I enjoyed it. On a whim one spring morning I headed out for a run through the neighborhood. Oh my gosh was it exhilarating! The change to an outdoor scene was what clicked for me to start to actually enjoy a run. It is an entirely different experience to be out in the fresh air, feeling the resistance from the wind, seeing the green on the trees during a run. After that I was hooked. It became part of my routine and I figured out how to get into that running zone.
A few things that helped me learn to run and that have helped me keep going:
Intervals. It is really okay to do a run/walk workout. Or to use a steady pace with some speedy intervals. You have to start at your own pace and build up. Intervals are fantastic for building both endurance (start adding more time with the intervals!) or speed. And interval training running will stay with you long past your first goal.
Consistency. Running is an amazing heart and lung work out. But to really see progress you need to do it regularly. I find that I am able to keep in running shape when going at least three times a week. And once you start to see progress in your cardiovascular capacity it is so motivating and much more enjoyable!
Run outside. There is an awesome energy that comes from running outdoors. Whether it is in the middle of an urban city street or on a rural country road, it just can’t be matched with running in the gym. Treadmills are great for nasty weather days and will get it done. But running outside is a huge improvement in the total experience.
Running buddy. Having a running partner can be such a great boost. It is harder to let yourself skip or to cut a run short when someone else is counting on you to be there. And miles somehow seem to fly by when running with a buddy.
A goal. It can be a race, a speed, a weekly mileage, etc. Regardless, having a goal you are working towards can be a great experience and might help you find your stride.
Running magazines. For real. I used to think that magazines like Runners World were for crazy hard core marathon winning types. But every issue is filled with tips and tricks for all levels. And the healthy recipes are sometimes pretty good too!
Great shoes. Running may not require a lot of equipment but good shoes are critical. Keep yourself in the right type of running shoe and replace them before they wear out to prevent injury. A running store is a great resource to find out what type of shoe you need based on how your foot lands.
But every now and then I still find myself in a running slump, these are the times where I have remind myself to just get out the door and to find a fresh goal. One of the things that I have learned over the past ten years is that once your run is over you will always be glad that you went.
What has helped you learn to love running?