You know how you aren’t supposed to play with your food? Fortunately that rule doesn’t apply to running. You most definitely can play with your running and make it fun. In fact, this goes beyond just beginner’s running. Even advanced runners do fun things to mix up their workouts up from time to time. They just call it sick things like speed work and fartleks.
As you begin a running routine you might find that it is both a mentally and physically difficult task. I certainly understand this. I still have days where running feels like a chore to get going. But the good news is that if you can spend just a few minutes pushing through that wall you will find the running rainbow on the other side.
I often tell my runners about my first few months of running. It wasn’t easy at first but I would run three miles each morning. Some days were better than others but most days I had to work to get past that first mile. I began to find that just as I hit that three mile mark, I was really starting to feel like I was getting into a groove and enjoying myself. Finally one day I decided to experiment with that feeling and went for a five mile run. As usual that first mile was a struggle but then I started to feel pretty good. And then a funny thing happened. As I went outside of my three mile comfort zone I found that the running actually felt easier! Yes, that sensation I thought I was feeling towards the end of my run was real. It was getting easier and even enjoyable!
The key to pushing past your “wall” is to have some fun or distract yourself. Below are some ideas to mix up your running routine.
The Light Pole Game:
This can also be the Mailbox Game or any other landmark you chose to use. The idea is to pick landmarks to use as your run/walk destinations. Start out by running to the first light pole and then walking to the next. Repeat until you meet your time goal. I would aim for at least 10-15 minutes and then slowly increase over time. Remind yourself that every runner has to push through a momentary discomfort during the first few minutes of just about any run. So try to push yourself to get at least 10-15 minutes in before you allow yourself to stop. As you continue, try to work up to 30 minutes and then slowly begin increasing the distance between landmarks. Try to run for 2 or 3 light poles and then walk for one. Over time you will find that your endurance naturally increases.
Music is an excellent motivator. I often run better with music. It helps to set my pace and distract me when I might be focusing on things that could cause me to stop. Make a playlist of all of your favorite songs. Or make a playlist with a combination of fast and slow songs. Run during the fast ones and walk through the slower ones. Sounds like a fun interval session to me!
The Stoplight Game:
Last winter I wrote about the Stoplight Game. You can read more about it here. This is one of my favorite ways to mix up my running routine when I run in the city. Let the stoplight’s dictate your running route. When you arrive to one, follow the green light and just keep going. This is a super fun way to mix up your running route and make every run a little different.
Wear Good Running Clothes:
Looking good and feeling good never hurt a runner. Having a pair of running shoes that fit and are appropriate for your body and running style will make everything easier. But having good winter or summer gear makes a world of difference. Plus if you feel good or like what you have to wear it makes it so much more fun to get out the door. The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune for good athletic gear. For winter clothes try www.uniqlo.com (I love their HeatTech), Old Navy and Target. My absolute new favorite summer tanks come from Walmart for 4.96 each!
What are you favorite ways to keep running fun?