Making a positive lifestyle change requires the right mindset and a little support
Despite my love for running, I know not everyone has the same level of affection for it. From improving your mood to strengthening your joints and muscles, running helps many people with their overall health. Yet even the most zealous runners acknowledge running can be tough and doesn’t come easily to everyone.
If you’re looking to add running to your fitness routine, here are some suggestions on how to make it easier to get out there.
Remove the ‘should,’ focus on the ‘why’
On far too many occasions, I’ve heard people say “I should go running. I should run to lose weight.”
The use of “should” implies you think you already failed — failed to do something in the past. Saying you should do something suggests you’re not doing enough and aren’t feeling motivated to change.
Cut out the self-doubt by removing “should” from your running goals. Instead, determine your “why.” Think about how running can make taking stairs easier or that you want to spend time outdoors after a long day in the office.
Stating the ways running can have a positive effect on specific areas of your life can make it a lot easier to keep at it. Why do you want to run? Create your initial reasons and keep them in mind the next time your motivation wavers.
Make it more fun, less serious
Rather than adding running to your ever-growing daily chore list, focus on making it a fun break from life’s obligations. Try to find one thing on your run that makes you smile or even stop and take a photo of something unique.
You’ll find smiling helps lift your mood and can ease any physical tension in your face. Positive emotions also have a compounding effect over time. The more runs you enjoy, the more running takes on a positive association. If you’re smiling while you’re doing it, you can’t hate it forever, right?
Another way to make running more fun is to remove the stress of comparing yourself to others. Just the other day, I found myself comparing my weekly mileage to another runner. My brain immediately went to a negative place.
Whenever I compare my runs and miles to others, I know it’s time for a no-watch run. Some call this a “naked” run: No gadgets or watches allowed. Don’t track miles or time and just run based on feelings and what you see around you. It’s not always important to focus on your average pace.
Find your gang
For me, my running group includes a 5 a.m. crew and a weekend trail group. During the week, we layer up in reflective gear and headlamps and run around our predawn neighborhoods. We count on each other being there, so it’s easier to get out of bed. On the weekend, we slow our pace to spend time on the trails.
Whatever type of runner you are, there are others like you. Think about what type of group would make running more enjoyable for you. Even online running communities may offer you the support you need. Online training groups and boards can offer tips and motivation so you can achieve your physical activity goals.
Combine walking and running
There’s no shame in combining running with your walking workout. Switch between walking and running and eventually, you’ll notice you can run for longer.
Having a structure to your runs can help keep you focused on something besides how your body is feeling. Your training plan can include runs where you walk for one minute, then run for two minutes, alternating over a half hour.
Another way to combine walking and running without using a timer is to note landmarks. Walk to the next light pole, then run to the end of the block, and then walk to the tree.
Some days, it takes a lot of mental strength to just put your running shoes on and get started. Other days, you may notice your comfortable pace feels even easier. Whatever the benchmark, notice it and feel proud of your progress. Channel your inner cheerleader and let out a woo-hoo after finishing a run.
And remember those running groups and communities? They’re also good for celebrating your progress.
Listen to your body
There will always be those days you physically feel fine, but your mental strength feels weak. That’s because people tire mentally before physical fatigue sets in. Just like muscles and joints, the mind needs training. And there are things you can do to harness your mental power and train your body to respond differently.
No matter what, it’s important to recognize when your body needs a rest day and when you can push through mental blocks. Some days, it will feel great to find the mental strength to run it out. Other days, you’ll know right away that it’s better to rest and try again tomorrow.
Maybe it’s your turn to experience the runner’s high. Try it and see.