Running is a step-by-step process that is fun for some and absolutely dreadful for others. Given that only a little over two months ago was the start of a new year, I’m willing to bet some of your resolutions included getting more active. One of the easiest and cost-effective ways to do this is with running, but that is a lot easier said than done. Getting it out of the way now: Running is hard. Like, deceptively hard. You may start confident for the first minute and a half but then your lungs start hurting and your legs begin to burn and you wonder why you began in the first place. Here are a couple of things that made this process a little easier for me:
Start Small, Dream Big: When I first began running last year, I didn’t really have a major goal. I just thought I could try running around the block every morning to start building a good habit. It wasn’t more than two kilometers, but it felt like a marathon and I was extremely tired at the end. I knew I had to keep going in order to achieve my goal and slowly but surely, I began to feel less and less like dying and then running that small circuit in the mornings became almost trivial. As time went on, I slowly began to increase the distance that I ran, until I eventually was doing daily runs of around ten kilometers.
Timing is Everything: A lot of people put off running to whenever they feel ready to do so, but that usually ends up with you putting it off because it doesn’t feel quite ‘right’. Personally, I did my original runs before I ate breakfast, because that was the motivation that got me out of bed and willing to finish the painful circuit. Getting up to run early also helped me begin other healthy habits in my life and gave me a reason to go to sleep early the previous night. (who wants to be tired before they run?). Eventually, I began to run twice a day at two different times, but more on that later.
Make the Most out of Every Step: Running, unlike other sports, can get repetitive pretty easily if you’re not careful. Making it fun to do so every day is crucial for one to not get tired and stop the routine they began. For many people, this is a change of scenery, finding new paths to run on or simply taking their old routine backwards. As well as that, there are multiple apps that allow you to track your progress and time yourself, so you can have a challenge at beating your own times. Personally, I used the app Strava which is like social media, but for people who run. In it, you can track your distance and time and share it with your friends or the overall leaderboards, which can be very fun to do. I was participating in a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald house on the app, and that allowed me to stay motivated since I knew every step I took mattered.
Be the White Rabbit: The best way I found to make running fun though, is to find friends who are passionate about getting into a healthier lifestyle as well. With the aforementioned fundraiser, me and a couple of buddies were part of a team competing against other teams while also overall raising money collectively. Having all of us talk about our experience running motivated us to keep going and even spontaneously run when we had the opportunity to. Long after the fundraiser had concluded though, my friends and I continued to run because we learned to have fun doing it and felt it was extremely rewarding.
Now, I’m not saying these are foolproof things that will make running a walk in the park, but I found that these were the things that kept me motivated. They’re solid guidelines that can help you keep momentum once you decide to take the first step.