Running can be a love-hate activity. Strava put together a great interactive data visualization called Why We Run where they dug into different running behaviors and motivations of the 25,000 people they surveyed. Check out the interactive report, it’s very insightful and fun to interact with.
Can you guess how many runners said “definitely yes” when asked if they enjoyed running? Of people who run alone (not in groups) only 52% said “definitely yes”. If you want to stay active with running, here are 5 ways to make running more fun and enjoyable.
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1. Be more social with your runs: try apps such as Strava or Nike Run Club, or join a running club
Just like social networking where you share articles, memes, or updates with your friends and family, why not share your run? Ask around to see what app most people are connected to and start there. For me, I love Strava. You can add photos and descriptions to your route. It also includes running segments (small parts of your route that are saved) so you can see the times of other runners who ran that same segment. There are even ways to connect with people that might have run the same route as you at the same time. While it’s a social network in itself, you can easily share to other networks your friends and family might be on, such as Facebook.
When social distancing restrictions get reduced, another great option is joining a running club, or running with friends. If you’re used to running solo, give it a try at least once. Start with easy social runs where you can run next to a person and talk with them. It’s a change of pace (no pun intended) but you might find yourself having even more fun on your run. Need ideas of where to get started? Here are a few:
- Athletic apparel stores or running stores such as Lululemon, Nike, Athleta, Jackrabbit, etc. will often have running groups. Check the calendars of stores in your area.
- Look for running groups that fit your lifestyle, goals, and location. In NYC or Boston try the Dashing Whippets which is a popular group and open to all paces. They even have happy hour after their easy weekly runs – who can turn that down?
- I haven’t been to one of their meet-ups yet but it’s on my list. The Badass Ladygang has a ton of meet-up locations across the U.S. and is an inspiring community that also offers a lot of fun runs.
One of the best ways to have fun is with a running buddy. Check out Bliss from Balance’s virtual running buddy program if you’d like to be connected with a similar online running buddy.
2. Don’t be hard on yourself and try not to compare yourself to others
The upside of social running apps is the camaraderie, the downside is how you might compare yourself to others. We all run at our own pace. Not everyone can maintain a 7-8 minute mile or is ready to run long distances. Instead, focus on yourself. If you like to walk, do a power-walk or a run-walk combination. Just getting out to run is an accomplishment. Some people are naturally faster than others, and if you aren’t one of them (I’m not) you can train to become faster. Even better, if you aren’t worried about your time, just ignore the pace!
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3. Enter “challenges” for badges and track yourself either with apps or wearable technology (such as smart watches)
Running is a workout and an accomplishment. To make it even more fun, apps on your phone or wearable technology such as smartwatches can provide motivating goals. Challenges on both Strava and Nike Run Club will reward you with badges you can collect. Additionally on Strava some challenges reward you with physical prizes. I’ve won Lululemon gear and clothing discounts, so always keep an eye out for new challenges. If you have an apple watch, strive to meet your exercise and move goal for the day with a run. Closing those rings is so satisfying and will make running even more enjoyable.
If you are in the market for a running watch I would recommend either an apple watch or a Garmin. I have both, and prefer my Garmin for running. The most affordable version is the Forerunner35, which has an easy to use interface and amazing battery life. My apple watch has died on me in races before, but this watch is always reliable. It also allows you to easily set intervals for interval training.
4. Find the right sound while running: podcasts, music, audio books, silence, or coaching apps are all great choices
Everyone likes to listen to different things while running. If you are on a solo run, you have a few options. The first option is silence (I cannot do this personally) but it can really help you connect with your breath and your surroundings. Listening to nothing can also be important for safety reasons depending on where you are running.
Podcasts are my personal favorite, but upbeat music can also be super enjoyable. Audiobooks are another great option, especially for long runs. If you need a recommendation for an audiobook try Where The Crawdads Sing from Audible.
Another choice that might not immediately come to mind are apps that will coach you, such as Peloton or Aaptiv. Aaptiv has a free trial that is worth trying, not just for running but for strength, yoga, HIIT, and other activities. These apps can provide music and motivation, and are good for beginners to advanced levels. You might be surprised how much more fun your run will be with some verbal guidance.
If you are in the market for running earbuds, I cannot say enough good things about the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They are incredible and have withstood years of half and full marathon training, with many long runs. They stay in your ears, have great battery life, amazing sound, and are extremely comfortable.
5. Sign up for a race or virtual race
Races can be exciting, fun, and motivating. When social distancing is reduced, consider signing up for one near you. It doesn’t have to be a long one to still be fun and feel accomplished when it’s done. If you have family or friends who are willing, have them sign up with you also. It makes training leading up to the race more fun and then lets you socialize with them before and after on race day. Also, who can say no to medals?
In the meantime, virtual races are always an option. Check out virtualrunevents to sign up for virtual races where you can receive a bib and medal, and the best part is each race benefits a charity.
What are your thoughts on these tips? Do you do them already, or will you try anything new? If you’d like even more tips to stay motivated, check out my post on 10 motivation ideas when you don’t feel like running.