3 Reasons You Hate Running (And How to Fix Them)
Running is a very hit or miss form of exercise.
Either an individual REALLY enjoys it and goes all in, or they just plain hate running and will do anything to avoid it.
For some they just tolerate it because it’s the only form of exercise they know. There truly is nothing simpler than stepping outside and putting one foot in front of the other until you are tired.
That being said running can often times be on the boring side, and comes with a lot of “growing pains” when you are just getting started. I do truly understand why people hate running.
Having recently returned to distance running after a long hiatus, I’ve gained a much better appreciation for what it feels like to get into running for the very first time. Where years ago I was used to training weeks consisting of 50-70 mile weeks for high school cross country, I was struggling to scrap together 10 miles with my significantly fluffier strongman frame.
Getting started with running is the hardest hurdle to clear, but once you get passed it the sport opens up into a much more enjoyable form of exercise. Here are my best tips to make what can be a painful and monotonous first time experience, much easier.
Stop Doing Too Much Too Soon
Barring freak accidents most of your running aches, pains, and injuries get chalked up to simple overuse injuries.
Common ailments for runners like shin splints, achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis, while not always the case, can usually be traced back to a sudden increase in mileage or intensity all at once. (This is VERY generalized, obviously there are many more variables to be considered)
Be willing to be patient with your running progression. A lot of running programs will start with what seems like laughably easy mileage/workouts. You may even find yourself saying “I could do more”, and you’d probably be right. However, the reason these programs will start out arguably “too easy” is so you can build up a solid aerobic base, injury free.
Starting out easier than you think you need to gives your body that time it needs to adjust especially for brand new runners. You want your body to have time to repair itself and most importantly make needed adaptations for running. This may seem like a waste of time, but the conservative approach is almost always going to be the best option for new runners. It takes time to get yourself enough performance data to truly determine where your “sweet spot” for running is, such as how many weekly miles you can put in , AND how fast those miles can be before hitting an issue, so don’t rush it.
ALSO, progression does not necessarily have to be mileage increasing each week. Everyone gets stuck on “I have to run more than I did last week”, you do not. In fact, you have many variables to play with. Increasing , intensity of a run (RPE or heart rate are good markers), how many times you run per week, pace, and even changing what terrain you are running on are all usable variables for progression aside from just “run further”. Sometimes you’ll even do the same exact thing you did last week with no changes and that’s okay. Running progression is not just a linear line that goes up forever.
You Couldn’t Pace a Run if Your Life Depended on It
This is probably the most common area I see people screw up with running.
Going out too hot, too soon.
You’ve probably been there. You just got through your warm-up, into the first 5 minutes of your run feeling great, wind flowing through your hair, and you are MOVING. You make it another solid 2 minutes and then all at once it feels like you’ve been hit by a sack of bricks.
This is something that comes with experience but you’ve got to learn how to pace out a run, especially when it’s for a longer distance. Understand that, for new runners, something as simple as changing from a 10 min mile pace to a 9:30 min mile pace could very easily be the difference between you easily jogging 5 miles, or bailing out 1.5 miles in.
Obviously this comes down to each individual’s fitness level, but you want to pay attention to what pace you could run indefinitely, what pace would be considered a “hard effort”, and what pace would be “maximal effort” and memorize them. This way you can save yourself if you know you have to hit 5 miles for the day but you’re already into your “hard effort” pace on mile 1.
Again, this is something that I like to stay on the conservative side with until you gain more running experience. My best trick is to treat the run like it’s progressive. Meaning, start off slow, maybe even “too slow”, then ramp yourself up over the course of the run. Not only is this a great way to naturally ramp up into a work out, but it ensures you actually finish your intended training for the day.
This is also race strategy 101. Many times you’ll notice the guy who’s in first place the entire time ends up getting smoked by everyone who sat on his hip and waited until the end. Don’t be that guy. Be patient, find your pace, and wait for your “moment” so to speak.
Loosen Up Will Ya?
Real quick for me.
Take a deep breathe. Soften your forehead, unclench your jaw, release your shoulders and let them hang naturally, and then release any tension in your hands and feet.
This is how you should be, every single time you run. Nice and relaxed.
I know it’s weird to associate both hard physical activity and relaxing at the same time, but stay with me. If there was one defining characteristic of good running form it would be “smooth”. Even with sprinters running at maximal effort pace, they are still in a smooth flow state. There’s no extra tension held where it’s not needed because it’s a waste of crucial energy.
Running really is just a game of trying to stay calm, cool, and collected, even under maximal exertion.
Your shoulders should be relaxed and loose, with your arms at approximately a 90 degree angle, swinging your hands through like you are trying to sweep them through your pockets.
Likewise, try not to squeeze up your fists like you’re getting ready for your very first street fight. A good cue is to leave your thumbs untucked, and to imagine you had a potato chip between your thumb and index finger. You don’t want to apply any more pressure into your hands than would break the potato chip. Your head remains relatively neutral, and shouldn’t be bouncing around like a bobble head doll.
Overall, you’re just trying to stay loose. All of your energy goes into propelling yourself forwards and that’s it. The longer you can stay in this relaxed state the longer you’re going to realize you are able to run for.
Same thing with your breathing. Ditch the hyperventilating style, panting like breathes, and switch to deep and forceful inhales and exhales. This is aerobic physical activity, meaning at the very top of our list of things we need is an ample supply of oxygen.
I know you are going to get tired, and I know you are going to want to throw relaxed running form, and breathing out the window, but the longer you can hold that composure the better. An easy sign a runner is on the verge of breaking is when there’s more and more unnecessary motion and tension in their stride. You want to avoid that as long as possible.