How To Start Running When You Hate Running
Not everyone falls in love at first run. While some people experience that “runner’s high” as soon as their feet hit the pavement, for many of us, running can feel boring and even painful. If running doesn’t come easily to you but you want to be a runner anyway, we have some suggestions that should help make running suck less.
Don’t be afraid of slow
Who cares about speed? Remind yourself during your run (AKA super-slow jog) that you’re running to improve your health and fitness, not win a race. (Racing can come later—if you want.) Be proud of yourself for every step you take, and don’t worry about pace as you get started.
Start with a walk-jog-walk plan
It seems counterintuitive, but in order to make running suck less, you’ll need to do it more often. If you go for a long, difficult run once every couple of weeks, your run is going to hurt every time. Instead, try building up your stamina by going on a gentle run a few times a week.
On your first time out, run for 2 minutes and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat this 3 times. After a week of that pattern, add a minute: run for 3 minutes and walk for 2 minutes, repeating 3 times. Slowly building up to longer runs will give your body time to adjust.
Or try running for a set time – at any speed
Head outside with a time goal – say 10 minutes – and jog it at any speed. Even if your jog is slower than the speedwalkers in your neighborhood, that’s okay: we’re teaching your body to accept that you’re a runner now. (No matter your speed, as soon as you head out on your first jog, you’re officially a runner – so make sure to join the In-Shape Run & Walk Club Facebook Group)
Fix what hurts
Feeling knee pain at the end of your run? Ankles sore or swollen? Try shorter runs as you build up your strength and add in some walks on your off days, plus add some gentle knee exercises or an ankle strengthening workout to your routine. If your muscles always feel tight after a run, make time for a post-run stretch on our digital platform or give foam rolling a try.
Part of what makes running hurt is feeling like you can’t get enough air in your lungs. Gasping for breath will make your heartrate soar and send your brain distress signals, which will make you feel like you have to stop.
Go out for a short, slow run and focus on your breathing. Practice deep belly breathing, lengthening your breaths in and out, and breathing through both your nose and mouth. It will be tough at first, but improving your breathing will make your runs easier.
Practice technique without running
Ever do a guided run with a virtual running coach and get overwhelmed with all the things you need to do at once? Tighten your core! Chest up! Listen, we’re just trying not to puke…
These techniques will improve your run, but don’t wait until you’re running to try them. Go out for a walk and turn on some music, a podcast or an audiobook. Work on these techniques one at a time, then add them all together. Try to maintain all of the following while enjoying a brisk walk:
- Tighten your core
- Breathe slowly and deeply, expanding your belly with each in breath
- Chest up
- Bring your shoulders down and back
- Keep your hands loose and let your arms gently swing
Run with someone else
If there’s someone in your household who will join you for a run, go for it! Running with a friend will help motivate you. Otherwise, find an accountability buddy – someone who will send you a sweaty selfie or a screenshot of their running app each time they complete a run. You’ll feel compelled to get out for a jog so you can send one back. You can also join our In-Shape Run & Walk Club on Facebook for digital accountability.
Switch up the audio
Some runners love getting pumped up by an awesome playlist, while others enjoy the distraction of a good podcast or audiobook. If you haven’t tried each of these options, give them a try – one might surprise you! An extra motivation trick: pick a podcast you LOVE and only listen to it during your runs so you have something to look forward to.
Get the gear you need
Maybe you’re always frustrated by holding your phone in a sweaty hand while running. Maybe you always pull out your headphones when the cord gets caught in your arm swing. If there’s a pain point in your run that could be solved with a new piece of gear, consider investing, especially if it’s something you’ll use outside of running, too.
As much as social media will tell you otherwise, running isn’t for everyone. If you’ve given running a chance and it’s still your mortal enemy, that’s okay! Join us for an outdoor fitness class or try a new cardio exercise, like rowing. But you might be surprised and find that running grows on you—so give it a try. Happy running!