I didn’t always enjoy running. In fact I used to kind of hate it! Jogging on a treadmill was one of the most boring, monotonous ways to spend my time and I’d usually be counting down the minutes on the timer until my self-imposed 20 minute ordeal was finished! And it was all about the timer because I would never think about what distance I might run – the furthest I ever did was 5km and that was at a push. I used to think about maybe entering a 10km race to get try and push myself but always ended up putting it off for ‘next time’. So how did I learn to enjoy running?

What changed?

Then one day I decided to ditch the treadmill and go outside for jog along the canal near my flat. I’d run for about 12 minutes along the flat route and then turnaround and head home for a 25 round trip. Each time I decided to push myself a little further and before I knew it after a few weeks I’d got up to 10km. The next thing I did was enter a half marathon 3 months later (21k) – a distance I never before thought I could do but I worked my way up to it and clocked a time of 1 hour 39 minutes. The most surprising thing? I actually enjoyed it all!

So how can you learn to enjoy running?

Some people are evangelical about running (check out this great blog for some cool posts on running) and it’s literally one of their favourite things to do. I’m not one of those people but I have totally changed my feelings about it over the last few years. During my training I did learn a few things that helped to get me through and change my mindset and hopefully they might work for you too:

Get outside – It sounds obvious but getting some fresh air on a crisp morning or a mild afternoon really is fundamentally different to grinding away on the treadmill. It can always be an amazing way to clear your mind and unwind after a stressful week.

Focus your mind on why you’re finding it difficult – When you’re not used to running it’s easy to get into a negative mindset where you think “this is hard, I don’t want to do it anymore”. That’s partly because it IS a little hard, but also because your body just isn’t used it and your mind wants to make life easier for you. Rather than just accepting that negativity, focus your mind on what it is that actually is causing you to think that way. When I was going on long runs I used to think “oh, my legs are tired now, I think I’ll turn home” but when I thought about it I realised that my legs were actually totally fine, I was just a little out of breath and could slow down to compensate.

Get into the right rhythm – a good steady rhythm is really important when you’re outside. I used to run to fast dance music to get my motivated but then I realised all that was doing was making me run too quickly and making me focus on pace rather than endurance.

Move efficiently – One of the common mistakes people make when running is to have a ‘slow cadence’ which means your feet spend too much time on the ground between strides. Try to keep a spring in your step. Second, try not to strike the ground with your heal. And third, try to keep a relaxed upper body and avoid being too rigid.

Now get running! :-)