Ever wanted some tips, tricks and ideas for making running more fun? You’re in the right place! In this article, we look at 4 creative ways to make your runs more fun.
A first-hand experience talking to non-runners about the joys (or not) of running
When I speak to non-runners about running, the most common thing I hear is ‘I’d like to run but I just find it so boring!’ If this sounds like you, don’t worry; you are not alone. Many want to make a running habit a part of their life, but they lack passion.
I guess these people can’t be blamed for their lack of enthusiasm for running. After all, explaining running doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world. ‘First, you put one foot in front of the other. Do this again, and again. Repeat these steps in fast fashion.’
What is it about running that some people find boring?
When I delve deeper into conversations with non-runners, or very occasional runners, it’s clear that people find the lack of stimulation in running the most boring thing.
Running isn’t similar to other sports
For example, it’s not like football or tennis where you have a clear and engaging objective to accomplish like putting a ball behind a net or stopping your partner returning the ball. With running it’s a bit trickier to define a set objective for the activity. Is it to reach a certain weight? Or is it run a specific distance, like a marathon, perhaps?
In other sports, there are often opportunities to play with others in a team which can make the exercise seem more fun and even like a game. Of course, there are opportunities to run as part of a team in running but it’s ultimately a solo sport; your results rely on your own efforts.
‘Running is exercise; it shouldn’t be fun!’
You may have heard sentences like this before in your life. There are some people who believe that exercise in general isn’t a fun thing and that it’s impossible to find fun in it. After all, the sensation of your lungs feeling like they’re going to explode after your first mile of your first run isn’t an amazing feeling. Okay, I agree with that…
I disagree massively with the notion that exercise shouldn’t be fun. If we are to make something a habit, we must enjoy it and take pleasure from it. If we don’t like the activity, we’re trying to make an integral part of our life, like running, it won’t be long until you throw in the towel and quit. End of.
I believe that, to make something a habit, you must enjoy the activity and learn to associate it with pleasant sensations. This way, you will have lots of motivation to continue the habit and will persevere when the going gets rough and you encounter a challenge.
I’ve experimented with different ways to make running more fun and enjoyable
Although I am someone who has a huge love for running, I must admit that I sometimes lose a bit of passion for the sport. Whenever this happens to me, I think of – and test – new ways to make running more interesting.
Some of my experiments to inject some novelty into my running experience worked very well and others not so much.
In this article, I’ll share what has worked well for me in my own quest to keep running fun and interesting. Feel free to try out my tips and tricks below and, if they don’t work for you, feel free to discard them.
Everyone is different, with different interests and means of deriving pleasure from the world. However, if you find some of the below suggestions work for you then feel free to continue using them to make, you’re running more enjoyable!
If you have any creative ideas of your own, feel free to share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear all about them!
1. Explore New Routes
If you run the same route, time and time again, it won’t be long before you become bored. It’s the same as anything in life.
Sure, we all like toast. But imagine eating toast for breakfast every morning. It’d eventually get boring, right? Sometimes we like to eat Cheerio’s or Weetabix, right? Variety is the spice of life, after all.
I encourage all runners to mix up their routes and explore new places to run through. There are multiple ways to do this.
Perhaps the most adventurous (and courageous) way to do this is to run new paths and through new locations on the fly, without planning or pre-thought.
For example, if you are running on a familiar route through your town then you could try and run through a different neighbourhood. Alternatively, you could run in a totally different direction than usual after heading out of your door at the start of your run.
I’d always recommend bringing a mobile device with internet connection so you can check on maps if you do get lost! Despite the name of this blog I always say, ‘safety first, runners second!’
Another exciting way to explore new routes is to use a route planning tool, such as Strava’s new ‘Routes’ function. This is a handy little tool in the mobile app and website which allows you to plan a route in advance of running it via an overhead view of where it is you want to run.
With the ‘Routes’ function, you can choose whether you want the terrain to be flat or hilly, how far you want to run, amongst some other variables, and Strava will build you a choice of routes to choose from.
In terms of being able to follow the route, if you own a compatible watch, you’ll be able to visually follow the pre-designed route as you run. If not, you can just use your phone to follow the route.
This programme is currently only available for premium members (called summit members on Strava). Strava offer members a free month trial for summit members which you can use to trial the ‘Routes’ function. If you’re interested, click here.
2. Listen to something interesting
My favourite thing about running, by many miles (pun intended), is listening to exciting and interesting audio.
When running, I split my listening time into three categories of content. Audiobooks, music, and podcasts.
Of course, what you choose to spend your time listening to is down to personal preference, but I find I flicker between these three categories. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to listen to; as long as you find the content interesting and engaging.
Music-wise, I tend to listen to my upbeat running playlist which is heavily rock-orientated with a few random tunes of a different genre sprinkled into the mix. If you’re interested, check it out here: Running Bangers
These days, I spend most of my time listening to podcasts which revolve around my current side-project, learning French. By listening to a French podcast every time, I run (every day, in my case) I’m able to combine two productive habits into one: running and learning a language by listening to it. It’s a fun part of the day for me or, in French, c’est un moment amusant pendant la journée pour moi! The podcast I’m enjoying right now is called Inner French; c’est bon!
I also sometimes listen to audiobooks when I run. I find this a great way to absorb the content from well-known titles in a friction-less manner, just by listening, compared to sitting and reading the written text. I recently listened to Matthew Walker’s ‘Why We Sleep: the New Science of Sleep and Dreams‘ which is, by far, one of the best books I’ve ever listened to.
Thanks to these different interesting audio-sources, I now associate running with a huge source of pleasure and enjoyment. I’m motivated to run because I know that it’s an opportunity to learn something new, listen to something I enjoy, all whist getting my running work-out done at the same time.
If it weren’t for running, I wouldn’t make the time to listen to the amount of audio I do and I’m thankful for it. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that my life has been improved thanks to the variety of interesting and useful things I’ve listened to whilst running. Okay, sounds like an exaggeration I know, but it’s true.
If you want to enjoy running and you’re currently not listening to audio, I’d strongly recommend giving it a try.
Not everyone likes listening to audio whilst running, of course, but it’s always worth giving it a try. It may well be that you prefer your running to be a time for peace and quiet rather than for listening to something. It may be that you listen to audio during a run one day and not the next, based on how you’re feeling. That’s fine. Do what works for you. If you do decide to start listening regularly, happy listening!
If you’re interested to learn more about listening to content whilst running, check out the following posts:
- Why You Should Run With Podcasts
- 11 Best Headphones For Running
- Should You Run With Music?
- Top 16 Audiobooks to Listen to Whilst Running
3. Become champion of local segments
One of Strava’s most exciting features is the leader boards feature which uses segments to enable you to compete with others in the Strava world.
How do segments and these leader boards work? Segments are portions of road or trail, created by members, were local athletes can compete against one another by covering the segment in the fastest time possible.
Once you run a segment, your effort is recorded and uploaded to the Strava leader boards where you can analyse all of your efforts for that particular segment and compare your performance to that of others.
If you’re a little competitive, like me, the segments feature is a great way to make runs more fun and like a game. You could have a light-hearted competition with friends and family to see who can run the segment the fastest to dominate the segment leader board.
Currently, the local segment and leader boards feature is only available for Strava summit members. For a free trial click here.
4. Run with others
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
Personally, I think this is one of the best ways to make running more fun.
Running with others adds a dimension of companionship and togetherness to the experience which make it more enjoyable.
We all know pulling our shoes on and dragging ourselves out the front door for a work-out can be tough at times, especially when it’s raining outside or it’s freezing.
Having a running buddy or group to run with can be a huge source of motivation and encouragement. If you blow out of a solo running work-out, it’s no big deal, but it’s a totally different thing to blow-out a run when you have a running buddy (or buddies) who is counting on you to show up.
In terms of the actual running itself, there’s lots of fun to be had with others. Together, you can explore new locations to run in which not only expands the horizons of your local environment but also creates excellent memories for you and those in your running posse.
You can also engage in a little friendly competition to make things interesting. It might be that you set a goal pace to maintain throughout the run, and all of you try to maintain it. Perhaps the pace is to see who can maintain a 7:20 minute pace for the longest. Such challenges certainly add an engaging, game like level to the work-out!
Asides from the running itself, it’s fun to run with others because you can read all the social benefits you’d normally derive from any social situation.
Catching up with friends and family, telling stories and jokes, having fun and connecting with others, are just examples of the fun that can be had when you run with others rather than just as a solo effort.
There you have it. 4 of my creative ways to have fun whilst running. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the suggestions and enjoy trying them out. Until next time. Happy running!