Before we dive into how to make running feel easier and less sucky, let’s get something out of the way.
If you’re reading this already set on the idea that “Running Sucks!“, you’re not wrong.
It’s potentially one of the most easily-hated sports there is out there.
I mean, what’s a bigger deal-breaker than attempting to jog .25 of a mile before you start choking on your own breath and feeling like hell just chewed you up and spat you out.
Okay, that may be a tad dramatic, but the point is…it can quickly make you feel like absolute $#!@.
Which leaves you saying…
…“WHY AM I NOT ONE OF THE BLESSED INDIVIDUALS THAT CAN RUN LIKE A GAZELLE THROUGH THE FIELDS OF AFRICA?!”
Because, my friend, no one (normal, at least) is born a psychopathic running-lover right off the bat.
I lost count of how many times I tried to pick up a steady running habit and gave up.
Just because of how awful I felt.
I’d tell myself before a run…
…”This is it! How hard could it be?! Everyone else is doing it right?!”
It never took long before I threw in the towel, and would usually quit before I even finished a mile.
The reality is, I didn’t even scratch the surface of my potential.
I was doing it all wrong.
Then years later, there ended up being a turning point in college where I decided enough was enough.
It took something drastic for me to prove to myself that I could do something I absolutely hated.
That I could push through any mental limitations I set on my potential, and achieve the impossible.
THIS is how a true running love affair begins.
Here’s the kicker.
Running is a test not for the weak.
It’s an almighty quest in which you have to battle some serious demons before you get to the holy grail that is: BECOMING A RUNNER (cue the hallelujah chorus).
And when I say a “runner”, I mean someone who just genuinely loves to run.
That’s it. No speed or distance requirements involved.
If you’re going through life feeling like crap about yourself, running is the nastiest tasting medicine you can take, but with the most beneficial side-effects.
Every ounce of work and perseverance you put into starting a running habit, you get right back in the form of self-confidence, discipline, and overall badassery.
I guarantee right now, if you pick up a running habit, within 3-months you’ll literally feel like Wonder Woman (or Superman / Thor / whatever Marvel/DC cinematic universe aesthetic goal you set for yourself).
So, while there are more specific how-to’s to aid in starting a running habit, the main piece of advice I have as of right now is to just GO RUN!
Because essentially, that’s the gist of it.
Look, we already know this whole running thing is going to suck for a while, okay?
Might as well throw in some fun tidbits that you actually like.
Really brainstorm every possible way you could make this experience more enjoyable for yourself.
Don’t skimp on the details.
For instance, things that make runs more enjoyable for me are: downloading a new podcast, making sure I have super comfortable gear, listening to a guilty-pleasures playlist, starting a new audio-book, reciting a mantra every quarter of a mile, and SMILING EVEN THOUGH YOU HATE HOW YOU CURRENTLY FEEL.
Basically, just be kind and attentive to yourself throughout this difficult process.
Okay, so this is a personal opinion of mine, but I do think there’s major truth to it.
When I first started running, I can’t tell you how long it took before 1 mile felt even remotely doable; however, when I instead set a goal to run for 10 minutes, I thought, “Hell-yeah! That’s easy!”.
This is a mental game.
But one that I think, if you set goals by time, you’ll have a better chance of winning while you’re still getting in your running groove.
When you first think about running, you’re going to get excited at the prospect of freely running around the neighborhood in your cute little Nike shorts.
Cause that makes running seem sexy, right?
Let me fill you in here.
Running for the first few times is the least sexy experience you’ll ever have.
You’re gasping for air, sweating profusely, and likely in a less than pleasant mood.
The quicker you accept this, the more you’ll be prepared for it.
So me personally, I don’t give a flying crap if an ex sees me in a raggedy 5-year old sports bra with baggy shorts huffing and puffing around the block.
But for those of you who would find this as motivation, use it.
Dress to impress.
If you need to add a light layer of makeup, make your hair a little cute, get some sassy multi-colored running socks (always my go-to)…then DO IT! There’s no shame here people.
The only shame is in not doing everything in your power to get started.
I mean, who’s going to know you worked to look so effortlessly fabulous.
And trust me, if you think you look good, you WILL run with more confidence.
Or at least, feel better about the fact that a run felt a tad sucky.
This to me was the magical equivalent of the prince in Cinderella finding out the glass slipper fit perfectly.
I mean, in my scenario it was a female middle-aged employee with solid shoe advice, but still.
Something about going to a running store, getting fit for the perfect shoe, and taking my “oh-so-serious” shoes home made me a more serious runner.
It became real.
Also, when you invest actual money and time into getting new shoes, it makes you want to use them.
Being able to follow through with a plan and manage your time is KEY to succeeding when you start.
Take time every week to create a plan for your running.
Make sure to plan down to the detail, so you leave no stone unturned.
You want everything to be planned perfectly, so there’s nothing convincing you that you can’t run at that time.
The thought of focusing on my breath while running used to stress me out.
In my mind, I’d think, “But breathing is hard enough as it is when I run!”.
As it turns out, the more I focused on my breath, the more I felt more in control of it.
Over time, it even became a somewhat meditative practice.
I’m betting almost every single runner (me included) has this problem starting out.
When you start running for the first time, your ego will take over, and you’ll think you can just start running at top speed.
This is a no-go.
Your body will burn out so fast, you’ll be left thinking, “Well I can’t even run a mile so what’s the point?!”.
You need to start small and start slow.
Your pace should pass the “talk test“, where you can still comfortably hold a conversation while running.
Then, once your body has become acclimated to the movements, you can start increasing your speed.
To give yourself incentives along your running journey, it never hurts to reward yourself properly along the way.
Just be sure that all rewards contribute towards your healthy lifestyle — and don’t take away from it!
Self-doubt is the ultimate goal killer and will crush your running dreams if you allow it.
It’s the pesky primitive part of your brain that tells you to abort the mission.
Your primitive brain does this when you try anything new.
It’s causing fear because it’s trying to protect you.
This doesn’t serve us when attempting to achieve any goal, so learn how to manage your mind so you can deal with this properly.
Contrary to popular belief…it’s okay to take walk breaks during your run!
When I first started, I would feel instantly ashamed when I had to start walking.
I would feel like I failed.
Even within my first week or so of running!
My advice is always if your body is telling you it needs to walk, then walk!
Especially when you start running for the first time.
As you become more experienced, you’ll be able to distinguish when your body actually NEEDS to walk, and when it’s just your mind playing tricks on you.
It can be extremely beneficial in the beginning to hire a running coach right off the bat.
It’s definitely not necessary, but it can provide structure and discipline that some newbies need to be successful.
The RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) is a great resource for finding a coach.
This one was big for me, personally.
And for those who haven’t experimented in any type of personal blogging before, it does make you feel vulnerable at first.
But it’s amazing the running community you’ll find out there who are at the same stage, or who have dealt with what you are currently going through!
Also, if you decide to do this, really go full force.
Comment on other runner’s posts, interact with people, send personal messages (I recommend the Instagram community).
It’s amazing the support that’s found online when it comes to this sport.
Having a means of tracking your progress in the beginning stages is SO important.
As a beginner, you’re going to have days where you’re doing everything right and sticking to your runs, but it feels like you’re going nowhere.
You need to have the ability to be able to look back at your progress to see how far you’ve come.
The fact that I can still look back at my stats when I FIRST started running is amazing, magical, and provides some serious inspiration.
Do this so before you die from exhaustion the last thing you see is beautiful.
But it really does make a crappy run feel so much more enjoyable.
I prefer the beach, or a nature trail, but you can also just drive to some really boujee neighborhoods and utilize the fresh pavement.
Whatever floats your boat.
Not only is this good for your running form, but it boosts your confidence as well!
Just the act of standing up straight can make us feel more motivated to finish the run strong.
Such a simple act that makes such a huge difference!
If you’re finding yourself scatter-brained on the run with thoughts such as…
…”I feel like I’m literally dying”, “This will never end”, “I hate this more than anything”…
…redirect your focus to a point in the distance so you have something to run towards.
This is an easy hack to implement that will keep your brain from going crazy!
Many of us (especially beginners) tense up in our shoulders and arms when we run.
This can cause our run to seem unnecessarily harder.
It can also cause strain on our back, which we really don’t want.
This is one I don’t super recommend but is a tool that you can use to find your running groove.
This is how I started running, since it was an easily accessible, more private way I could get my mileage/endurance up.
But I actually semi-regret it.
I ended up spending about 4-months strictly on the treadmill. Within that 4-months I was running up to 6 miles a day after I got into a running habit.
But, I got comfortable.
When it came time to run outside, I became super discouraged since I had to retrain my body to run on that terrain.
So, just tread[mill] super lightly with this one (I couldn’t help myself, sorry).
But in all seriousness, I would definitely throw some road runs in your routine at the very least.
You’ll have to understand that success means a series of small steps and commitments that lead to massive, life-changing results.
This is exactly how running works.
So create a plan, commit and follow through with each run, and before you know it you’ll be a seasoned runner wondering why you ever thought it was hard.
Consistency is king!
No, I don’t mean smiling like a maniac with your eyes bulging out of your head.
Just make it a habit every once in a while to crack a small smile during your run.
Even just the act of smiling can activate areas of your brain associated with reward!
So, there you have it!
To conclude, I guarantee if you implement these 21 tips while attempting to start a running routine, you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding.
To be honest, I did close to none of these, and I wish I knew about them when I first started.
Nothing worth having ever came easy, so if you feel discouraged, I promise the rewards will be supremely worth it!
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.