Every runner knows the comments you get when you explain to a non-runner how running is fun. When you go to work on Monday and explain the highlight of your weekend was the three hour long run in the summer heat. We don’t need to go into the comments here; you know what I’m talking about.
However, all runners are on their own journey and what makes running fun to each of us is different and not every run is fun. Often there is pain, fatigue, suffering, rain, cold or heat that makes just getting out the door. Often it is just hard work and you don’t feel like running. There is a certain pleasure in the pain of running that every long-term runner understands. It’s this that non-runners don’t get or understand why we run, and it is what makes running the beautiful pursuit it is.
When running isn’t fun there are things we can do to make the tough times easier. We all struggle at times to be motivated and get out the door. A drop in motivation, a few missed runs can quickly lead to a poor preparation to a race. A poor race and motivation potentially decreases further. These are the times when it’s tough to be a runner because it’s not always fun and you won’t always want to get outside and run. I
Thankfully there are things you can put in place to make running fun, or at least more fun when it’s not fun.
Connect to your tribe
It should come as no surprise that as humans we all want to belong. As runners we want that sense of belonging in our chosen sport too and it’s never been easier to connect to your tribe. With technology these days we see more running groups then ever before and the popularity of running growing exponentially. One of the major reasons is the sense of belonging you feel in the running community. When running isn’t fun, use your community to motivate you. This can be in person, running with friends or running group. There is safety in numbers and the accountability of the group you’ll have waiting for you at 5:45am at your regular starting point. No one likes to let his or her friends down. When running isn’t fun lean on your tribe for motivation.
You can also connect and belong to an online group, which keeps you motivated. You can share stories, challenges, successes and failures. The sense of belonging to an online community may be just what you need to make running fun for you if you can’t run with others.
Imitate the best
Modern technology has also brought the world closer. It has never been easier to follow the elite athletes of today. Many elite athletes post their training online and are accessible through social media. Use these athletes to fuel your motivation and imitate their training if it motivates you to do so.
Just the other day I saw a prominent US Olympic marathoner put a session down online that looked super impressive. After analysing the session it translated to 12 x 1km at half marathon pace with a 1 minute rest followed by 5km at marathon pace. A big quality session but it could easily be modified for an average runner to. The point being with the technology available the running community is worldwide and very accessible. Learning from other runners has never been easier and adds additional challenge, variety and fun to your running.
When your motivation starts to wane look at how much variety you have in your running schedule.
How often do you run alone or with others?
How often to you change your routes, terrains and distances?
How often do you train different intensity?
While running with others is empowering and motivating, there is also empowerment in the solitude of running alone. Running alone gives you time to run at your pace, your route, your music in your ears if you choose and also your time to be with your thoughts. You should include a variety of both group and alone runs.
If you run the same flat, road loop everyday it’ll likely get boring quickly. Change up everything occasionally, run a mix of trail and road. Differ the routes and times you run so you see different people and scenery. Run both flat and hilly routes that give you a differing challenge. Even running your normal flat, road loop in reverse will add variety.
Alter the intensity you run. Your training should be dynamic and have a plan. There should be a mix of aerobic, tempo and long runs. You should have a plan or work with coach to give you a plan that keeps training dynamic, challenging and most of all fun.
Have a purpose
Each time you go running it should have a purpose. Each run should be part of a plan that builds your training. If you don’t have a purpose and wake each day and just go running you can lose motivation quickly.
The easiest way to find purpose is to enter a race. Once you do this you have something you are held accountable to. You or your coach should plan your training for the purpose of being ready to run this race. When you challenge yourself you’ll rise to it and every run will have a purpose.
If you aren’t ready to enter a race find some arbitrary goals that you can work towards. They could be as simple as a mileage target each week that keeps you accountable.
One thing we can assure is that every run won’t be fun. Sometimes it is hard work, sometimes you just don’t feel like running. But you’ll only the regret the runs you missed and not those you’ve taken. Do your best to stay motivated and keep running as fun as often for yourself and you’ll accomplish your goals and enjoy running for life.