Running can be a real party pooper some days, am I right?
When you’ve selected running as your go-to workout, there will inevitably be days when it sounds like zero fun. The monotony of pavement pounding and unrelenting boredom…mixed with labored breathing and pain, and I can’t fault you for not enjoying it. The thought of a run is usually enough to make most people visually grimace.
Even if you enjoy running for the physical and mental benefits, you’ve definitely had days when running sounded like the last activity you wanted to do.
If not, you wouldn’t be here reading this post, searching for answers on how to enjoy another sport’s “punishment.”
I’ve been a runner for about 15 years. Goodness knows I’ve had my fair share of days when a planned run just seemed to loom over me. But as I was training for races or competitive seasons, I didn’t really have a choice.
Over the years, I had to gather and rely on a collection of running techniques simply to keep my sanity. What I realized, though, is that these things would often make my dreaded runs not only bearable, but actually fun.
When someone made a comment in passing that they could never run as much as I was, I’d smile inwardly and be thankful for my secret bag of tricks.
Which I’m going to reveal to you today – right now! These techniques may make all the difference for you on those tough running days. I know they have for me!
How to Enjoy Running (even if you hate it!)
1. Stop going all out
Okay, once I finally understood this, I finally started enjoying my runs more.
Running fast is not the only way to get better at running. It’s okay to go on a run and not feel like dying! In fact, running slower often allows you to run more overall; you can go for longer and will be less sore for your next run.
I used to have this crazy fear that if I didn’t run hard each and every time, I wasn’t going to reap the full benefits of the run. But of course this isn’t true. Our bodies feel different each day, and they need variety, rest, and recovery. That’s why “recovery runs” are a thing.
So while it’s beneficial to have some days that you push yourself, know that every day doesn’t need to be fast. If getting out the door is starting to feel overwhelming, take it back to basics and go on a mosy-paced run! It’s okay!
2. Get your eyes off the road
When I’m on a run and feeling bored or tired, I bring my eye-line up. I get out of my head and go sight-seeing, looking at the trees and flowers, the little critters running around, and the houses I pass. I take in the architecture of different homes and build my dream house in my head.
As simple of a tip this is, it can get your mind off the discomfort you’re feeling. It both allows you to be present in the moment and gives you an opening for your mind to wander. You’ll find the time passes so much quicker when you do this.
So don’t just stare at your feet. Get your eyes up and take in your surroundings.
3. Take a different route
Along the same lines, I find it a ton more enjoyable to regularly switch up where I run. If you know that every day you’re going to struggle up that same hill or get tired at precisely the same spot, then it may be time to switch it up.
I love using mapmyrun to plan my routes. It’s also fun to have a general idea of where you want to go but not map anything in particular either. Plan to check out a new part of a neighborhood and enjoy some fresh scenery.
It’ll take you away from a little bit of that monotony I mentioned earlier.
4. Listen to something enjoyable
Arguably the best way you can enjoy running is by listening to music. Having a fun, upbeat playlist can make a huge difference during a run.
But even music can get old. So sometimes, I opt instead for a podcast or an audiobook. I let my mind become completely absorbed in the episode or chapter, and before I know it my run is over.
Best part? I was doing something I would have wanted to do at home anyway.
5. Watch something enjoyable
When it comes to the treadmill, I usually prefer to watch something. For the longest time I thought I would feel dizzy or off-balance if I watched a video while running, but that’s not at all the case – and I’m very prone to dizziness and motion sickness.
Many gyms have TVs visible or even streaming services built into their treadmills. I also love watching YouTube videos on my phone while running. Pick a long enough video, and it’ll cover your entire run!
When I really don’t want to run, this is the technique I rely on. And if you’re wondering how to enjoy running on a treadmill, this is my best tip!
6. Take a furry friend
Now this trick will only apply for those with dogs – so here’s that final nudge if you’re thinking about adopting!
My dog has lots of energy and an athletic build. She wants nothing more than to run around like mad, so I will occasionally take her with me.
It’s so fun running with your furry best friend by your side. Dogs have this carefree happiness that is so apparent when they’re running; I absolutely love watching her face.
I also get to concentrate on cheering her on, so I think way less about how tired I am myself.
This trick will definitely depend on your dog’s energy and fitness levels. But for those with medium/large breed doggos that have loads of energy, consider taking them along on those a shorter run days.
7. Hit up a trail
Trail running is a whole different ball game than road running. Not only will you get out in nature, you’ll experience a large variety of terrain. This means you’ll get in some hill work as well as challenge your stabilization on uneven ground. The hills are also good for slowing you down if you struggle with tip #1.
If you’re wondering how to enjoy running again, maybe you’re bored of the same streets. Look up a trail (I have a post for this!) and go exploring.
8. Play with your speeds
Another way I make running more fun is by making it into more of a structured workout. Instead of going for a 30 minute steady state run (running the same pace the whole time), I try to incorporate a little speed work. This could be anything from a HIIT running workout to throwing in a few 1-2 minute pick-ups.
On the treadmill, I’ll mix it up by completing 5-minute intervals alternating between faster and slower speeds for the duration of my workout. Some days I’ll do hill intervals instead, alternating between high inclines at a slow jog and low inclines at a faster pace.
Your runs don’t have to be the same every time. If you’re struggling with how to enjoy running, try using this variety technique to stave off the boredom.