How to Enjoy Running (When You Really Hate Running)

When I talk about running, plenty of people immediately laugh and respond with, “Yeah, if I’m running, you all better be running too, because something is chasing me.”

I laugh with them, because it’s funny and totally fine if they don’t want to run. But often times, those same people will follow it up with, “I wish I was a runner” or “I wish I could run.” But somewhere along the line, they got a bad taste in their mouth from running. Hey, I have bad memories from sixth grade PE class and being forced to run the mile. It’s ok.

I think a lot of people do actually want to run, but haven’t found how to make it work for them. If you have found yourself in that category: wanting to run, but hate running – I have a few tips to help you shake off those middle school doubts, get back out there, and (possibly) enjoy running!


The biggest mistake newbie runners make is starting off like a horse out of the gate. Within three blocks, you’re huffing and puffing and grabbing the stitch in your side, wondering why you thought this was a good idea. I’d hate running too if that was what happened to me every day. That’s miserable.

When you first start running (especially if you haven’t run since that fateful day in sixth grade), slow down! You should be able to comfortably hold a conversation. Now, in the beginning, this may take time to adjust to, and if you’ve never run a day in your life, it might look more like walking than actual running. That’s ok! Remember, we’re going for enjoyment, not the Olympic trials here. Find a pace that get’s your heart pumping a bit, but not so hard that you can’t breath. There shouldn’t be any pain at all, maybe just some mild discomfort if you not used to running. Give it some time, and you’ll find how readily your body will adjust. (See last point below)

Tune In

Running is a time to get outside, soak up some sunshine, and be alone with your thoughts. I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of people (Kids. It’s kids.) who are constantly tugging on me, asking me questions, and just won’t leave me alone. I love my kids, but there are so many times when I need a moment or two when no one is demanding my attention and it’s quiet.

Running gives you the time to be by yourself and think, but it also gives you a moment to just be present: to feel the breeze on your skin, to smell freshly cut grass or burning leaves, to feel the weight of your body moving through space, or to hear your breath. It sounds all Zen and whatnot, but in actuality, it’s just a little bit of peace in an otherwise crazy life.

Tune out

Of course, if that’s not your jam, there are plenty of ways to zone out on a run. Music, podcasts, audio books, even TV (if you’re on a treadmill – I would not recommend trying to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls while running on a busy road. That’s just stupid.)

A common complaint I hear is that running is boring. There are so many great options of things to occupy your time while you run and truly, anyone can find something that fits them. Love books but can’t find the time to read? Audiobooks. Have other hobbies or interests that you want to know more about? There’s probably a podcast for that. You could binge watch Netflix while putting a couple of miles on the treadmill. Find what you enjoy and see if there’s a way to incorporate it in to your running. It won’t be so boring.

Find a Friend

Nothing makes a run go by better than a great conversation with a friend. Find someone who hates running as much as you do, and train together. Misery really does love company!

Seriously, running with friends makes it so much fun! The trick is to find someone who runs about the same pace as you, otherwise if the other person is faster, the entire experience will be miserable for you.

Take Walking Breaks

If you’re new to running, factor in walking breaks. Not only does it make the prospect of running doable, but it gives your bod a break if you’ve never run before, allowing you to catch your breath so you don’t end up quitting on the third block with a stitch in your side.

There have been plenty of times I’ve taken walking breaks even now, and I’ve been running for 19 years. There’s no shame, no judgement. Some is better than none, so even you  started out with the intention of running a mile, but ended up walking half of it, so what? You did it! You did something today. Use walking breaks if and when you need them.

Get a Goal (and a Why)

Whether it’s a couch to 5k, or  dress you want to fit in, get a goal. Give yourself something to work toward that you can measure progress. I’m a fan of races. They can be so motivating and inspiring, and the sense of accomplishment after you’re done feels fantastic. (And you get a tshirt….. and sometimes a medal.) And there are so many races out there, you can find about any distance, any time, and type that sounds fun to you.

Do whatever works for you, but be sure you have a big enough why to keep you motivated. I’ve talked a little about “whys” and why I think you should have one on a previous post, but it’s important enough to mention here.

Give it 2 Weeks

Here’s the biggie: it’s gonna take time. No one runs their first run and comes home like, “That was the best thing ever!” It takes a little time. Your body and your mind are going to strongly protest anything that seems uncomfortable and unfamiliar. (That’s why we like lying on the couch instead of doing hill sprints.) Know that going in, you mind is going to loudly scream how stupid this is, how much you hate it, and tell you to stop.

Give it two weeks. It will get easier and more enjoyable. It’s practically scientific. But the benefits of running don’t have overnight, you have to be patient.

There you have it! If you want to run but can’t seem to get past the hate, try some (or all) of these tips. Let me know how it works for you. And if they don’t work for you, I’ll buy you a doughnut. But we have to run two miles to the bakery to get it.


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