It's a rare breed of human that enjoys running. In their native habitat they can be identified by their tendency to smile on the treadmill, their abnormally lean calves and their voracious appetite.
I myself am not a member of this exotic species. In fact, I wouldn't even call myself a "runner." My running experience is limited to school sport, finding it easier to chase a ball (like an apathetic puppy) than to set out on an aimless jog. That was, until I signed up for (read: was coerced into) a half marathon and began my venture into running.
It wasn’t easy but I finally joined the pack and I learnt a few things along the way. So from one novice runner to the next, here are my seven tips to make running bearable.
1. Create a rad playlist
Running is just as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. If you're anything like me and music easily affects your mood, an uplifting workout playlist may be just the thing to keep you going… for “one more song, just one more song.” Craft it to mirror your energy throughout the run. For example, if you know you like to start off steady, begin with something with a solid beat; then bring it home with something more high tempo.
2. Listen to podcasts
This was the epiphany in my journey. After weeks of subbing out at 6km, I asked a runner friend how she did it. “Podcasts,” she answered. So that afternoon I set off and managed 10km without trouble. Podcasts are especially good to entertain the mind on your longer runs. Find something that is a suitable length and interests you. I like Hack, Serial, Giant Dwarf Story Club and WILOSOPHY.
3. Mix up your route
There’s nothing like a dull, residential running route to get you counting your kilometers. Try taking a scenic track that is not only better on the eyes but is better for the mind. According to a study done by Glasgow University, working out in a natural environment can help reduce stress, anxiety and improve overall mental health. In fact, just viewing nature has shown to significantly reduce stress levels.
Change your route often so that each run feels like a new adventure and you don’t get caught on the same loop knowing how far you’ve gone and how much further you have to go.
4. Don’t hurt yourself
If you’re new to running, you’re at a higher risk of injury and nothing will stop you ‘hitting the pavement’ more than literally hitting the pavement. There are a number of ways to prevent injury. Firstly, take it easy and increase your speed and distance in small increments but never try to improve both at the same time. Secondly, it is vital to invest in supportive running shoes and you can even try specially designed sport insoles for extra joint protection. Third, swap the pavement for the treadmill every once in a while to continue your training on a lower-impact surface. And lastly, you must warm up and cool down correctly.
If you do suffer from an injury, such as ‘runner’s knee’ (just like tennis elbow, this feels like a dull ache below your knee cap) it is important to rest and if the pain persists, get it checked by a professional.
5. Don’t go it alone
Sometimes there’s nothing like a solo sweat session to clear your head but more often than not having a workout buddy can do wonders for your motivation. Not only will it keep you from hitting snooze, it’s also a good distraction from the repetition of thumping feet (and we all know a solid gossip session takes at least an hour.)
6. Treat yourself
Looking the part and feeling the part is half the act. A new pair of shoes or running outfit may be just the thing to get you into gear in more ways than one. After all, we’re only human and we’re not above a bribe. Rewarding yourself for your hard work is positive encouragement.
7. Track your progress
Since my first 3km run to my recent 16km one, I have tracked my progress. Seeing how far I’ve come since the beginning helps to silence that voice inside my head toying with my confidence. Setting goals and trying to beat your benchmarks can motivate you to go the extra mile.
Read more great health tips at Sporteluxe.com