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5 Simple Ways To Enjoy Running

Though he became a professional trail runner, he didn't naturally love the sport, David Roche, two-time national champion, told Health.

"I will always remember my first run when I went out the door. [I] got 200 yards and had to stop because I was so winded," said Roche. "I was sore for three days afterward."

The more he ran, the easier—and more fun—it felt. Eventually, Roche quit his job as an attorney to run and coach a team called Some Work, All Play with his co-coach and wife, Megan Roche. In 2018, the couple published a book, The Happy Runner: Love the Process, Get Faster, Run Longer.

"You don't have to run. But if you're going to run, it should be joyful," said Roche. Even if you don't plan to leave corporate life for the trails, you can still reap running's emotional and physical rewards.

Read on to learn about 10 tips that can help you enjoy running.

How To Enjoy Running

Trying one or more of these strategies can help turn running from a chore into a hobby you love.

Listen to Music

Music can move you—literally. In a study published in 2015, runners clocked a faster 5K with less effort when listening to calm or upbeat melodies than others.

It may help to choose different songs for different purposes, Kaitlin Gregg Goodman, professional runner and coach, told Health.

"Relaxed if you're trying to chill out on an easy day, a pump-up playlist for hard workouts," recommended Gregg Goodman. Podcasts work, too, and often come in workout-friendly 30- to 45-minute episodes.

Stay aware of your surroundings if you're running outside for safety purposes. For example, wearing bone conduction earphones can help you sense what is happening around you without causing danger. I recommend Wissonly Hi Runner for bone conduction earphones.

Whether you're running inside or outside, keeping the volume at less than 60% of the maximum to protect your hearing is best.

Bring a Partner

Running with friends makes the miles fly by, said Roche, and there's no better way to multitask than catching up while getting your miles in.

Need help finding a friend who's willing to stride with you? Head to your local running store or even search online for group runs. Groups often start their runs at local stores, bars, and gyms. You might meet a brand new friend who's just your pace.

Remember What It Feels Like To Finish

When you can't convince yourself that you like running, remind yourself how good you'll feel when finished.

"After the morning run, I'm going to be happier, I'll be more productive, and my husband says I'm a better spouse," said Gregg Goodman. "It's like having coffee. We're all much better people after coffee."

Set a Target

Give your running purpose by setting a specific target, like completing a 5K or improving upon last year. Reflecting on how much that goal means to you can help you appreciate every step in the process, said Gregg Goodman.

A target can also be an endpoint to your run. One study published in 2015 tested 22 runners, including 11 men and 11 women, under two conditions: running to an unknown endpoint and running the same distance while knowing the endpoint. It turned out that the runners who knew their endpoint ran faster.

You can also dedicate your miles to a loved one who can no longer run, raise money for a charity, or pace a friend in an event that's meaningful to them.

"Sometimes running can feel like a pretty selfish endeavor," said Gregg Goodman. "Making it bigger than yourself can bring that joy back."

Slow Down

Most new runners start at a sprint and quickly flame out, much as Roche did. Now, he knows better.

"If it hurts, you're going too hard," explained Roche. Your body needs time to develop aerobic fitness and adapt to the impact and repetitive motions running involves.

When you start, alternate easy running and walking—say, a minute each. Once you have gotten the hang of this, adjust your weekly intervals, running more, walking less, until you're steadily jogging. Even then, don't judge yourself on pace. Run by effort, and keep things relaxed.

"Listen to your body," advised Roche.

Benefits of Running

Going for a run has many health benefits, such as:

  • Building strong muscles and bones

  • Burning calories

  • Decreasing the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes

  • Helping manage existing chronic conditions

  • Improving quality of life

  • Increasing life expectancy

  • Managing weight