I am a weightlifter at heart, not a runner. But I can’t deny the importance of cardiovascular health. As much as I want to run, it can be so hard to hold myself accountable to do it frequently. Here are four things that have helped me turn my distain for running into a much more tolerable habit.
- Find a Dog.
Maybe you already have a dog. If not, don’t worry. I’m not telling you to go out and buy a dog. That’s a huge commitment. But chances are you have a neighbor, friend, or family member that would be more than happy to let you borrow their dog for an hour or so to take on a run. A lot of people pay to have someone else walk their dog. So whether they can’t give their dog enough exercise due to physical limitations or time limitations, explain that you need a non-verbally communicating running buddy and think their dog would be the perfect fit to help you get in shape.
Dogs make the best running buddies. I’ll be honest, I hate running with other humans. I either struggle to keep up or have to force myself to slow down, and most of the people I’ve tried running with love to talk my ear off when I’m huffing and puffing too hard to hear what they’re saying, let alone respond.
Of course, if you’ve been debating on getting a dog, this is just another bullet point to add to the “pros” side of the list.
While I struggle to hold myself accountable to complete things I don’t want to do, but know I should for my health (running), it’s a lot easier to stay accountable when I know I’m responsible for the health of someone (something) else.
My dog has a bit of a sled dog mentality, and pulls just enough that it motivates me to push myself harder, but doesn’t yank my arm off (unless she sees a squirrel, then I get a dislocated shoulder).
2. Find the right location.
If you live in busy town or city and have to stop at a crosswalk every 2 minutes, it’s no wonder you don’t get out to run often. In order to get in the habit of running, it has to become your happy place. You have to make it your happy place. For me, this means actually getting in the car and driving a little out of the way to get to the perfect path where I can run along gravel stretches under an arch of trees, away from the sound and exhaust of cars and annoyance of street crossings.
It sounds counterintuitive to drive somewhere just to run, but it’s much easier to hold yourself accountable to something that’s a bit more enjoyable rather than something that’s totally miserable. And enjoying the scenery around me takes my mind off the actual running.
3. Track your progress.
I used to use an app on my phone to track my time and distance. But I hated carrying my phone with me and found myself checking it constantly to see if I was anywhere near that mile mark.
After years of thinking about it, I finally caved and got a Fitbit. It’s my new best friend (besides my dog) for running. Right on the watch you can set your goal for the amount of time you want to run, the distance you want to go, or the amount of calories you want to burn. The watch vibrates when you are halfway to your goal and again when you have met your goal. Then it tells you your total distance, time, and calories.
I started with the goal of one mile, then pushed that to two, then to three. My Fitbit really helps me stay accountable to my goals and was 100% worth the investment.
4. Join a recreational sport team.
Field sports are the best sports to get you in shape for running. If you have even the slightest competitive side, the drive to score will take your mind off the pain of running. Before you even realize, you will have ran sprint after sprint up and down that turf field and you were so involved in winning that the time flew by.
I think Ultimate Frisbee is a great sport because you can chose a position that involves fast sprints or more relaxed jogs and the community is incredibly supportive and welcoming to newcomers.
If you’re lucky, there might be recreational soccer, flag football, or lacrosse near you. Or if you know enough people, you can try to put a team together yourself.
While I mention field sports for running, basketball and tennis are two sports that will also get your heart pounding from running.
Of course, if you have a hobby that gets your heart pumping without running (biking, climbing, etc.) that’s great too. I simply listed field and court sports for getting your running skills conditioned without the same mental challenge of running on a treadmill.
I hope these four tricks help you like they helped me.
P.S. Be sure to stretch before and after and good luck on your running journey!