Let's face it: there are a lot of people out there who think running is the absolute worst. It can't just be me. Running is hard, especially if you don't enjoy it or it doesn't come naturally to you. If you need or want to incorporate more running into your routine, however, it might be more doable than you think. You just need these genius tricks that make running easier, even if you hate it, in order to get yourself in gear.
Running is good for a lot of things, fortunately (or unfortunately for those who hate it), so it's worth adding it in to your workout schedule. "Running is one of the best aerobic exercises for physical conditioning of your heart and lungs," Flywheel Sports master instructor Lacey Stone shares via an email exchange with Romper. "Many studies show the health benefits to be enormous, reducing the likelihood of everything from the common cold to cancer. Your stamina will increase and you'll lose weight — most beginners lose up to a pound a week."
As if that weren't enough motivation because, let's face it, for some it's not, running can help your emotional health too. "Running is a great cure for stress, negative emotions, and even depression," Stone adds. "You'll probably experience fewer headaches and have more energy, patience, and creativity. Studies show that healthy adults who exercise regularly are typically happier than those who don't."
If you desperately want to be a runner but just aren't sure how to get there, these tricks will help make things go a little bit more smoothly. But don't worry if you don't become a runner overnight... it's not a race!
1. Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself
As strength and mobility coach Erika Lee Sperl tells Romper, one of the ways to make running easier right off the bat is to quit being so hard on yourself. Don't set impossible goals that you won't be able to meet. Yes, there's something to be said for challenging yourself, but if each run leaves you feeling dejected and a little bit like a failure, you'll never learn to like it and it'll never get easier.
2. Start Slowly
Stone says that starting slowly can help make running easier. You have to be patient. Walk to warm-up, then jog slowly. Also, there's no rule that says you have to run the entire time. If it gets to be too challenging, slow to a brisk walk until you feel like you can pick up the pace again.
3. Break It Up
Breaking up a run with some lunges, squats, tricep dips, or whatever else you feel like doing can help make the overall run a little bit easier. Sperl says you can also pick a tree, bench, park, or other destination as your endpoint. Run to that marker and then either immediately pick a new point, break it up with some other exercises, or slow to a walk.
4. Find A Friend
Both Sperl and Stone tell Romper that running is easier with a pal. Sperl says a friend, family member, or even your dog can help distract you from something that you don't really want to be doing, which can make it more fun. If you're distracted, you won't even notice that you ran right past that goal you set for yourself. "Instead of meeting at a bar, meet for a run," Stone says. "It’s a great way to get closer to your loved ones or even colleagues." Win-win.
5. Take Time To Recover
Sperl says that in order to have a more productive (and safer) run, you need to make sure you leave yourself enough time to recover after the fact. If you don't let yourself recover, you'll be too tired to run with proper form or go the distance you'd like to the next time you hit the trails.
6. Incorporate Other Training
If you're going to start running, don't just replace all of your current workouts with runs. Stone says it's important to incorporate complementary workouts like yoga and weight training. They can help you build strength, prevent injury, and improve flexibility. Sperl recommends lateral moves like side lunges, as well. Mix things up. Just because you're a full-fledged runner now doesn't mean you should abandon all other exercises. Balance is key.
7. Plan Your Route Intentionally
If you run outside, you'll want to start planning your runs along a route that you enjoy. Stone says she likes to run alongside the water. "Pick a route that inspires you and gives you the motivation to keep chugging along," she says. Rebekah Mayer, national training manager of Life Time Run, tells Romper via email, "Running at sunrise or dusk provides ideal lighting for photography, and scoping out that perfect Instagram sunrise picture can keep your mind working while you run." Finding a new part of your neighborhood to explore or a new trail can also make your workout a little more enjoyable.
8. Think About Nutrition
While you might not think it matters, considering how you nourish your body can also make running a little bit easier. "Running on a full stomach can be very uncomfortable, as blood is shunted towards your working muscles and away from your digestive system," Mayer says. "A light pre-run snack a couple of hours before your run should be all the fuel you need if you’re running less than 90 minutes." You don't want to run on too full a stomach. Nausea does not make running easier and it probably won't help you hate it any less, either.