One year and a half ago, I discovered that running is one of my passions in life. Since then, I have participated in 17 half marathons, 2 marathons, run over 2500 miles, and have run at least 1 mile every single day in 2019 so far. Simply put, I love running and it’s now a fundamental part of my everyday life.
However, it wasn’t always that way. I used to hate the idea of running. I never once thought I would be one to run but now I do it every single day. How did I go from not liking the sport at all to it becoming one of the greatest sources of fun in my entire life? I found some ways to fall in love with running.
In this article, I’ll share my 5 top tips for falling in love with running. Hopefully, it’ll help you ignite a passion for the sport if you don’t already have one.
What’s the need for ‘top tips’ to fall in love with running?
If you’ve ever discussed running with anyone, chances are you’ve heard one of the following popular soundbites:
- ‘I hate running’
- ‘I’m not built for running.’
- ‘Running is too hard.’
- ‘I just don’t get why people love running.’
- ‘Running is so boring’
Sound familiar? I thought so. Unfortunately, these are commonly used phrases by people who usually haven’t even given the sport ago before dismissing it.
As someone who is known as a ‘runner’ in my family, friendship groups and workplace, I still hear all these anti-running soundbites regularly. Sadly, these soundbites mainly come from people who would hugely benefit from the wonders of running.
The soundbites tend to come from people who may be overweight, dealing with mental health issues, are experiencing bundles of stress and who have self-esteem issues. I’m not saying everyone with a grudge against running experiences these issues but in my experience, most who do express an anti-running mindset do have some of them.
My response to those who try to shoot down running or discount themselves as not being ‘running material’ usually revolves around some of the tips I’m about to give you in this article.
I don’t think these people are really against running. They just haven’t given themselves a chance to fall in love with the sport.
My top 5 tips to fall in love with running
1. Decide to commit to running
The first step to falling in love with running is consciously deciding that running will be a part of your life.
If you are in a half-way house, not knowing whether you want to be a runner, then you will find it hard to commit to a workout schedule and the likelihood of becoming a runner are slim to none.
The number of people I have spoken to who say they are ‘thinking about’ started running or that they ‘really should start running soon’ is stunning. These people like the idea of running and would probably make good runners. They just haven’t committed to being a runner yet.
Furthermore, an issue with being indecisive about committing to running is the associated decision-making anxiety. What exactly does this mean? Those who are not 100% sold on being a runner are continually considering the pros and cons of starting in the sport.
Pros include weight loss, a better figure, improved mental health and stress relief. Cons are time, effort, money to purchase running gear and sore muscles.
Lots of people know that running has many health benefits and love it as an idea for their lifestyle. I know this because I was one of these people. I liked the concept of running and knew it would be good for me, but it took me a year of thinking about it to fully commit to being a runner. It seems silly now but taking ages to make decisions, like starting to run, happens to all of us.
Unfortunately, thinking about deciding to run or not in your mind for an extended period can cause anxiety, worry and wear you down.
Think of a big decision you’ve made in your life. Asking your partner to marry you, making an offer on a house, accepting a job offer. All of these were weighty decisions which you knew would greatly change the trajectory of your life. Therefore, you probably turned the decisions over in your mind for a period and experienced the associated decision-making anxiety.
It’s the same with not committing to running. Merely thinking about and knowing you should become a runner in your mind isn’t enough to fall in love with the sport. You must make the decision and commit fully to be a runner.Once you decide, you can stop worrying about becoming a runner and focus on the running itself.
To fall in love with running, decide to become a runner and commit. Once you decide to become a runner you can embrace, you’re the sport and free your mind from decision-making fatigue.
2. Set and achieve goals
Once you decide to start running, don’t waste any time and set yourself a goal immediately.
Us humans love setting goals and accomplishing them. Doing so gives us direction and our lives a sense of purpose. Without goals, we wander around life willy nilly merely hoping we will do well rather than having something tangible to aim for.
Think of your life and some goals you may have set. To save a certain amount of money every month, to lose a certain amount of weight, to read a book a month, to complete a project for a client, to achieve a specific grade in an exam.
These are all common goals which add excitement to achieving outcomes we want like purchasing a house, being fit and healthy, being well-read, having great business reviews and having a qualification. Having the goals in place makes the journey towards the outcome more manageable, realistic and engaging.
Running is the same and goals should be set and accomplished regularly to ensure you are on your way to achieving the outcomes you want.
Setting goals in our running helps us on our way to achieving the outcomes we want. For instance, you may want to start running to lose three stone. Part of the journey to losing three stone may be an initial goal to lose three pounds through running. Once that goal is achieved you set another goal, achieve that and so on, with the aim of the three stone target.
Your goals don’t have to be huge and can be anything you desire. It could be running a 5K, clocking up 20 miles a week, running over a difficult patch of trail. If the goal challenges you, it’s good to go.
Once you’ve achieved one goal, be sure to celebrate it and set another goal right away. Having something in mind you want to accomplish with your running adds a sense of excitement to the sport and helps to inform your training schedule. You feel pride and experience a rush of dopamine once you tick off one goal before moving onto the next. Having goals to conquer can help you fall in love with running.
We all start running with specific outcomes we want to achieve. These outcomes may be to lose a set amount of weight, to run a certain distance in below a certain time or to feel better mentally. Regularly setting and achieving goals on our way to these outcomes makes them more manageable, realistic and fun. Set yourself goals and achieve them. You’ll quickly fall in love with running.
3. Mix things up
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same the same actions over and over again and expecting different results.’
Don’t run the same route, in the same place, at the same time, with the same people, time and time again. As the above saying suggests, that is likely to result in insanity and feelings of distaste for running which wouldn’t be good. Instead, make sure you do things differently as often as you can.
One of the best ways to fall in love with running is to mix up things up. I love running so much because it offers true variety.
You can run on the road, trail, on the beach or grass. Different places can be discovered and explored. You can run solo, with good friends and family, or meet and run with new people. Different times of day offer different running experiences with the early birds enjoying the peace and quiet whilst the day and night owls enjoy busier surroundings. You can run in the rain, sun, snow or fog.
If you try to regularly change things up, there’s no end to the number of different running experiences you can have. They say variety is the spice of life and I truly believe that those who run fall in love with the sport because of this variety.
4. Start eating healthily
If you start running whilst eating a balanced, healthy diet, you will find it easier to run and will recover quicker. In other words, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience in your first couple of weeks and will find it easier to fall in love with running.
When I started running, I initially didn’t change my diet and continued to eat junk food which probably explains why I found the first two weeks extra difficult. I felt sapped of energy, had no ‘get up and go’ to start running and felt like muscle recovery following runs took far too long.
After this early discomfort, I read up on the experiences of other beginner runners online and found that I wasn’t alone with tonnes of others experiencing similar issues. Upon further investigation, a key piece of recurring advice was for beginner runners to change their diets so that their bodies could cope with the new demands running placed on them.
Beginner runners with a healthy, balanced diet, experience less resistance from their bodies as they have proper nutrition to fuel and repair their bodies so it is not as much of a discomforting experience as for those with poor diets.
Apparently, there is traction in the phrase ‘you are what you eat.’ If you eat fatty foods, you will likely become overweight and unable to perform sporty activities or recover quickly. Conversely, if you eat a healthy and balanced diet you will find running easier and your body will recover quicker and more efficiently. Beginner runners with a healthy diet will feel physically better and more energetic, thus will enjoy running more.
I look at healthy eating for runners with the analogy of a race car. If a race car is filled up with shoddy, low grade fuel, it’s likely to perform poorly and will probably find the engine experiences damage during a race.
On the other hand, high quality fuel which has been carefully selected for optimal performance will mean the race car will race quicker and more efficiently. We are the same; if we want to perform well in running as a physical activity, we must fuel ourselves with the right nutrition.
As a rule of thumb I recommend that runners eat complex carbohydrates before running, and protein and healthy fats at other times. Examples of complex carbohydrates include pasta, bread, potatoes and certain types of cereal. Protein and healthy fats include beans, nuts, fish, meat, eggs and cheese.
If you eat healthily when you start running, you are likely to find you perform better and you recover quicker. To fall in love with running, make sure you start eating healthily.
5. Get Inspired
Being inspired is one of the best ways to fall in love with running.
One of my role models, Dan Pena, the billionaire high-performance coach, says there are only two reasons people change in their lives. Desperation or inspiration.
Either people change because they are driven to the edge and can’t take anymore or seeing something amazing and empowering encourages a behavioural shift. I don’t know about you, but the inspiration route sounds better and more fun than the desperation route.
Consequently, inspiration is an amazing way to fall in love with running and to make it a part of your life.
What exactly is inspiration at its core? It’s when you’re mentally stimulated by something which makes you do or feel something. If you see some amazing and moving examples of running, you’ll connect better with the sport and be more likely to fall in love with it.
There are tonnes of sources of running inspiration you can draw on. Watching competitions, reading books, speaking to fellow runners, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and so on. Inspiration for running came come from anywhere and it’s always worth switching things up to try and find inspiration from new places.
A few inspiring running books I have read and would happily recommend are as follows:
- Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
- Run for Your Life: Mindful Running for a Happy Life
- Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins (not strictly a running book but in the later chapter David details some of his amazing ultra-marathon moments)
In particular, I find clips of runners crossing the finish line to be a huge source of inspiration. Watching the final few moments of the race unfold is special because you can see the months of hard work and sacrifice in the runner’s facial expressions as they cross the line.
For me, it’s the huge sense of pride these runners convey in their face as they cross the line which I find inspirational. Knowing they’re happy with their efforts, and it has all been worth it.
For example, watch the below clip of Eliud Kipchoge becoming the first man in history to run a sub-2-hour marathon. I don’t consider myself an overly emotional person, but a tear went down the side of my face when I watched these moments live on the 12th of October 2019. I found inspiration in Kipchoge’s phenomenal efforts; he brings true meaning to his signature phrase ‘no human is limited.’ Inspirational.
To fall in love with running, get inspired. Watch running events on TV or in person whenever they’re on, read running books, speak to runners. Allow yourself to be moved by running and all its life-changing benefits. When you do that, you will fall in love with running in no time.
There you have it. My 5 top tips to fall in love with running, all of which I followed when I went from a non-running couch potato to someone who now runs every day. I hope you find some of these practical tips useful and wish you all the best on your road to falling in love with running.
As a beginner runner, there will be times when things get tough and you want to quit. No matter what, don’t quit. Stick with it, keep running, follow the tips I have given above, and you will fall in love with running. Once you do that, your life will never be the same again. Happy running.