5 Ways to Make Running Feel Easier


Earlier this week, while browsing the internet during work hours doing job-related research, I ran across this article on running. Interestingly enough, I already had about 12 drafts of running posts half-finished, and this article hit on a little bit of everything. 

So obviously there was only one thing to do: I stole the title of the article for my own post.
But I'm not really stealing, okay? I just want to touch on the 5 points the article makes and offer my own input on the subject. I'd love to hear yours too if you have anything to add!

1. Pencil It In

The article says: "Instead of fitting in random runs whenever you can or when the weather is nice, it's imperative to stick with a weekly running schedule that includes running at least three or four times a week."

I say: 
Scheduling my runs has proven to be a lifesaver, that's true. However, to be fair, I wouldn't say scheduling my runs makes them feel any easier. It's still dang hard. The only difference is that I have a specific goal in mind to hit and I know what I need to do, so I actually go do it.

Case in point: at the end of August, I realized I needed to get moving or I wasn't going to be ready for my half marathon on October 27. Running 3 miles is nice, but I knew my knees would hate me if that's all I did before the half. So that night, I wrote a running schedule for myself that would take me through September and October. I penciled in runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, gradually increasing in mileage when necessary. 

Having a set mileage for the day and week has kept me motivated. I've learned that when I leave it up to myself, I get lazy and either don't go running at all, or I do a few miles and call it good. Let's be honest: who really wants to go out and run 10 miles on a Saturday morning? Not many people do. Certainly not me. But if the calendar says I should, I get up and I do it. My reward? A very satisfying checkmark next to that 10 on the calendar and a trip to the ice cream shop. (I know I'm weird that a check mark excites me. Don't judge.)

Also, don't feel like you have to run 3-4 times a week. If you're actually training for a run, then yes you should. But if you're just getting into it, going a couple of times a week is great. Just don't think that if you don't have time to run 4 times a week you shouldn't run at all. 
2.  Slow Down

The article says: Slowing down will allow you to focus on correct running form, which can alleviate common running aches, and you'll also be able to take in the scenery or have the energy to chat with your workout buddy, all of which can actually make you love going out for a run.

I say:

Trying to run too fast will only injure your body and leave you feeling depressed. I touched on this more in this post, but basically, everyone has their own running pace. Trying to do too much too soon isn't good, and sometimes my best runs are those where I just go out and do a few miles at a slow jog, not even worrying about pace. 

That being said, I am super competitive and love trying to beat my old times while on a run, so don't rule that out. But if you're just starting out, don't feel pressure to run fast. Even stop and walk when you need to. The important thing is that you're outside being active. 

 3. Make It Fun
The article says: Find ways to make it fun either by bringing your dog or best friend along, exploring running in new places, listening to your favorite tunes or a book on tape, or splurging on new gear.

I say:
I know some people like to run without music because it gives them time to think or enjoy nature or whatever, but I personally always run with music. I have running playlist on my ipod, and each song has a nice running beat so I can stay on pace. (I wrote a post about 10 favorite running songs here.) 

I've also found that running with someone is really the best way to make the run fun. I've had a few different running partners over the past few years, and it's a great way to make a new friend while you push each other to run faster and harder than you would if you were on your own. 

However, I should note yet again that having a friend doesn't necessarily make it fun. More enjoyable, yes. But fun? Maybe not. 
[My dad and I after our half marathon in April of this year.]

You know what was REALLY fun? The obstacle course 5k my brother and I did a few weeks ago. If you're looking for fun, sign up for one of these bad boys. (Here are a few to check out: Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Dirty 30).
4. Hills & Squats

The article says: Running uphill will feel incredibly challenging, but as soon as you get to the top and start running on a flat surface, you'll be amazed at how much easier running feels.

I say:  Running hills is very hard, so that part isn't fun. Brings me back to college soccer practice where we had to sprint up hills. Not fun at all. But the article does have a good point. When I run on the treadmill at the gym, I always run at a "grade" (or incline) of at least 1.0, usually 2.0 or 2.5. That way, I'm training on a hill, and when I do run on a flat surface like a track or just a flat stretch of land, it seems much easier. 

Another great way to mix up your runs is to speed-walk up hills or set your treadmill at a steep incline like 5.0. You'll tone your calves while getting in some great cardio.

5. Don't Just Run

The article says: Mix up your cardio routine with biking, hiking, dancing, or swimming.

I say: Find some classes at the gym to go to on your days off from running. I have been regularly attending a zumba class, and it's so much fun. I hold 2 or 3 pounds weights during class, so I'm toning my arms while working on cardio and shakin' it to Usher.

Running itself doesn't actually burn that many calories, so if you're looking to lose weight or tone other parts of your body, alternating running with weights or other types of cardio (like the article said: biking, hiking, dancing, or swimming) is the answer.
No matter what, though, the long and short of it is running is hard. But it's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. I used to think running more than 3 miles was impossible. Now I believe anyone can do it if you just put in the effort. Last year I read the book Born to Run. If you ever want to read a really inspiring book on writing, that's the one.

Do you have any other running tips or tricks? Do you love or hate running? Tell me about it in the comments!
anna lizbeth said...

great post! I am headed to texas for christmas this year and they have a jingle bell run. The whole family decided to dress up and join in this year! I have never been one for running but thought this would be the perfect excuse to start running and working towards a goal. Its only a 5k but hey.. its a start ;).

two birds said...

great advice! i never run with music. mainly i run with friends, but even alone, i prefer silence. i think it's because i run to the beat, and if the music has a different beat from one song to the next, i probably look really funny running!! thanks for the tips!

Newlywed Moments said...

Love this! Such great, practical advice. I especially agree with what you said about hills...I hate running uphill, but I have found that afterwards, running on a flat surface is so much easier!

Cotton and Boots said...

As a new runner, I really enjoyed this post. I've been mixing in weights with my running so I don't get stuck in a rut or bore easily (which isn't hard at all for me). I also just did a post on music while running!