How to Not Hate Running (not that I’m an expert)

A couple of weeks ago, Jane (who leaves the best comments ever on my blog, I live for them) asked me if I could write a post about how I got over my fear of running.

After thinking about it for a bit, I decided this would be a good topic for me to cover because I still do not looooove running, but I used to really, really hate it.

I’m still a novice runner, and I’m not knowledgeable on increasing your speed or distance, but I’m not afraid of running anymore. I have now run three 5k’s and hope to complete a 10k in the spring. I never, ever thought I would say that.

None of my close friends are serious runners, and I feel like a lot of them feel the same way as I did about running…which makes me think that many people feel the same way as I did about running: hateful and afraid.

So here is my running story, followed by what I do to help myself not hate it. Kind of serious talk, so I’m calling on Wayne’s World, one of my very favourite movies, to help balance that out.

I avoided running as much as possible all throughout elementary school and high school. I would run if I had to while playing sports, and of course if someone was chasing me in manhunt (I would run for my life, and into fences), but I remember dreading events like the Terry Fox Run and gym-class running.

I wasn’t terrible at running, I just hated it. I told myself that I was just not a runner and was never going to be a runner.

I couldn’t imagine that anyone ran because they actually liked it. I had no idea why people would want to run track, and I didn’t think people who ran marathons were real people. I don’t really know how else to explain that, so hopefully I am making sense.

When I first started going to the gym, I dabbled a little bit on the treadmill. But I continued to hate it. I only did it for exercise purposes, and watched the time and calorie count the whole time.

But I wanted desperately to like it! When I heard about people running, or saw runners while I was driving, I was jealous of them!

I can remember one day in my early 20s I decided that I was going to try to like running, so I laced up my sneaks one morning before class and hit the pavement. I was back home within 10 minutes. I barely gave it a shot. These times of “I’m going to be a runner today!” and then failing continued for a few years.

But within the last couple of years, my thoughts on running have been turning around. I think the real running turning point for me was when I discovered running blogs.

I saw real, regular people who were out running all the time and they actually liked it. I saw girls that I could relate to, just regular people like me, running marathons!

My attitude about running started to change. Maybe running wasn’t evil. I decided to try again, for real this time.

I started the Couch to 5k program, and I loved that it really eased me into running. Before that program I could barely run steadily for a couple of minutes without thinking I was dying, and all of a sudden I could run for 20 minutes without stopping?

It was so motivating to see my progress, and I felt like I could notice progress quickly, which is always helpful.

I also loved how I felt after I ran – so good about myself, like I accomplished something that day even if I just laid around and did nothing for the rest of it. I started making myself just get out there and run, run through the hate. It didn’t matter how fast I was going, or how far I was going, as long as I was out there doing it.

My goal for my first 5k race was just to run without stopping, and I did it, and I ran it with a time of 32 minutes! And I actually had fun! I was so proud of myself afterwards, because I did it on my own. I never thought I would be a runner, and suddenly I was! In my next 5k, I ran it in under 30 minutes, which is actually a decent time. I wasn’t even aspiring for that kind of time because I didn’t think it would have been possible for me. It was a motivating little surprise and I was pumped.

I don’t know that I will ever run a marathon. That is a lot of running and I still don’t love it. It isn’t something I am currently aspiring for. I run mostly because it is a way for me to be active and feel good about myself. It makes me feel healthy and strong. And obviously I like how it makes my body look.

I have also discovered what great “me” time it is. I do not have to worry about anything while I am running. I can just zone out.

I am convinced that running is so much more mental than physical. I didn’t run because of my mental barriers, not my physical ones. I was able to run, I just didn’t want to. As soon as I started running I would just be thinking “I hate this. This sucks. Why am I doing this to myself. I can’t go on.”

I was talking myself out of it before I even got into it. But now I make a point to talk myself into it.

So from someone who used to hate running, here are some tips on how to not hate it:

Don’t worry about what you look like.

One of the biggest reasons I didn’t want to run was because I assumed I looked ridiculous. I figured everyone in their car who drove by me was pointing and laughing at my silly attempt at running.

I didn’t really know what shoes to wear, or what clothes I should be wearing. I was so self-conscious of how I looked and if I was doing it right.

I didn’t know what I was doing, and I felt like every other runner did.

It also didn’t help that I have quite large nungas that were not properly strapped in (see this post on sports bras if you have that problem), so I was self-concious about that as well. I hated getting any sort of attention when I was running.

I’m not sure how I got over this, but now I don’t care. If people want to look at me, fine. If I get honked at or yelled at, I turn my music up and ignore it. Why would I care about what strangers in their cars are thinking about me? I am doing something to better my health. If I look ridiculous, that’s cool, snark on it if you like.

But, more likely, no one is looking at you. When I look at a runner on the side of the road, I usually envy them more than notice how fast they’re going or what they’re wearing (unless it’s nice and I want it).

Make a playlist that will pump you up.

This is huge for motivating me. I am always making new playlists and including my favourite songs of the moment. I also try not to listen to those songs at any time other than when I am running. This makes me excited to run because I’m excited to listen to those songs.

(You can check out my playlists here, and I gotta update that page soon as I have some new ones)

Or you could listen to an audio book! I haven’t done this yet, but I could see it getting me excited about running.

Set goals for yourself.

I will admit, I’m not a big goal-setter. But for running it really helps to motivate me, especially when I was just starting out. I felt awesome every time I made a time or distance goal I had set for myself. Achieving even mini goals made me want to keep on doing it.

Get new running garb.

Whenever I get anything new I want to wear it immediately. When I bought new clothes for running, I wanted to get out there and run just so I could wear them.

Track your progress.

I immediately got the RunKeeper app for my iPhone, so I could track my speed and distance. Though I wasn’t competitive about running, I still liked to know how fast and how far I was going. I also liked to save that information and compare it to my next runs, and this gave me little goals.

You do not have to run fast.

You don’t even have to run well! Just like anything, you just have to keep at it. Even if you are moving at a pace that is slightly more than a walk, it’s still something. The more you do it, the better you will get. Just get out there!

And read running blogs!

That’s probably what did it for me. And since I have started blogging about running, several of my friends decided to take up running as well. My motivation motivated my friends, which has now motivated me even more (and I have running buddies!)

It is just a big cycle of inspiration.

Am I missing any good tips?

And can anyone tell me how to not hate the treadmill?!


37 responses to “How to Not Hate Running (not that I’m an expert)

  1. Too funny…I actually learned to like running *on* the treadmill (having a tv to watch helps). I can’t get the hang of outdoor running (too cold, dark, too many cars/weirdos/etc).
    A lot of our story is the same…I tried and hated running (perfectly fine thing to do if someone is chasing you with an ax, but otherwise…), but I wanted to bump up my exercise and knew it would help. Started slow several years ago and for a long time maxed out at 2 miles…started increasing in the last year or so I have run one 5k (actual outdoor race), and just ran 7 miles for the first time on the treadmill the other day.
    One difference is that I didn’t start reading blogs till after I learned to like running, but the 5k and the increase of my distance and time are probably the result of the inspiration I’ve taken from reading blogs.
    Long enough comment. Stopping now.

    • Interesting, I am the opposite! Outdoor running is my fave (but yeah, it’s cold now). I don’t mind the dark, and I have gotten over the cars/weirdos. I like how you said “learned to like running”, I feel like it’s a learning curve!

  2. Great post Linds! I am like you and while I do run sometimes, I still don’t love it. I find that the only way for me to not hate the treadmill is to watch tv while I’m on it or constantly play with the speed haha.

  3. After suffering from lingering hamstring pain, I found myself almost fearing running. I am slowly learning to love it again. 🙂

  4. This post is helpful! I’m…errr…not a runner. But I’m trying, I really am. I run on a treadmill right now, and I find that watching The Walking Dead helps enormously. Today I found myself increasing the speed, because I wanted to run fast (well, fast *for me*) while yelling at the screen: “Don’t go there alone! Why would you go there alone?”

    I’m on week 5 of C25K. I do my 20 minute stretch of running on Friday! I finished the C25K program once before, but after I finished week nine, I wasn’t quite sure what to do anymore, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I just…stopped. This time, I’m going to have to think about a way to stay motivated after the program is finished.

    • Hahaha, I love the Walking Dead. That would pump me up for sure.
      I think my biggest hurdle was making running fun. If I feel like it’s a mindless activity, I don’t want to do it. This is why little goals help me so much, and the music thing. It gets me excited!

      It is really hard to get back into it once you get out of it, I find.

  5. Rachel van Oostveen

    this story is so so so familiar! i just finished the couch to 5k program and i can now say that i can run 30 minutes without stopping – which is insane because i have definitely said many many times in my life “van Oostveen’s are not runners”. so i am very proud of myself. and will say that it is all a mental thing. get into it slowly, build it up and it is certainly attainable. thanks for the post Lindsay!

  6. Anything “forced” upon anyone will never be enjoyable. So when anyone asks me “how do I not hate …” I say “don’t even try to do it if you hate it!”.

    But that being said, I do like your tips. Yes, music helps. But to be honest, I better stop myself there because I used to run 14 miles a day (part of my exercise addicition/eating disorder). Then my hips snapped and now I cant run anymore.

    But I will say this. I walk these days and I’ve got killer gams so no one should frown upon walking!

    • That is interesting, I never thought about it from the other perspective. I had more of an exercise non-addiction, unless I truly enjoyed the exercise (so swimming, water sports, skiing, skating were all good times). I never exercised just to exercise, which I think probably contributed to my non-love of running.
      That seriously sucks about your hips Eden. But you are right, walking is just as good. It doesn’t get enough credit.

  7. Your story sounds like mine! I really like running, and I’m a novive too. Let’s stick with it! 😉

  8. Haha! Love this!! I am someone who never learned to love running the same way other people do but also learned to like enough to do it and even feel really accomplished by it.

    The only way to like the treadmill is to watch tv or run intervals in my opinion

  9. Bahaha… I don’t think there is a way to really like the treadmill other than to really distract yourself so you ‘forget’ you are on it. If that isn’t working, well, lol I don’t know. I always have to make myself run one more song when on that dang thing. And sometimes I actually slow down thinking I’m done because I hate it so much, but then I restart it and run another couple mins and repeat the cycle lol.

    Honestly, I’m really trying to suck it up and run outside as much as I can through the winter. I’ve gone out and gotten running tights. Champion’s actually work really well. Nike has a good thermal pant, but the unless it is the legging, I think the fit is a little weird.

    Good luck continuing running!

  10. I LOVE this post. because I hate running and am similar to you with it, I kept trying and really wanted to love it. I still dont love it but I dont despise it either. someday I will be a “runner”…maybe.
    and i frickin love waynes world

  11. I don’t have any tips about hating the treadmill less, but I do agree that running is totally a mental thing. I’ve been very off and on with it for a long time and am currently into it, trying to stay into it. I’ve never run a race but I think it might be fun. Maybe I’ll try to do one next year, I definitely think having solid goals keeps me more motivated.

  12. Great post! My hx with running is a pretty different story- I grew up playing sports and running was actually my favorite part about them. In soccer, I played midfield (the players who play both offense and defense, hence run around the field the most), in basketball, I played point guard (basketball’s equivalent of midfield), and even in swimming, I loved dry land practices that involved running.

    Eventually, I took my love of running to the most sensible sports for them: cross country and track and field. The funny thing is that for awhile, running track actually made me loathe running.

    Um, this is getting lengthy. Let’s just pretend there’s a smooth transition here, k?

    My motivational tips:

    1) Make it a game- google fartlek runs. They’re so much fun. You can also get together a group of friends (or people from or what-have-you) and play tag and other running games to keep things fresh and fun.

    2) Get competitive, about once a week. You can do this with a stop watch, in a race, or in a group run (most cities have some kind of running group that you can join for free or a small fee). When you do this run the next time, try to beat your time or the people who finished a few seconds before you. At some point, you’ll likely reach a plateau, and occasionally finish a little slower, but that’s okay.

    3) When your performance is suffering, but your training hasn’t changed- taking an extra day off. You’d be surprised by how much more energetic you can feel by taking a day off. Overtraining actually makes you slower, weaker, and more prone to sickness and injury.

    4) Don’t bust your ass on every run. Seriously. It may seem counterintuitive that taking it easy sometimes can help you improve, but it does, and I learned this lesson the hard way (not having easy runs often enough can lead to overtraining). Find a pace where you can carry on a back and forth conversation, then use this as your base pace. Around 75% of your runs should be at this pace.

    5)Switch things up, goal wise. It’s a good idea to have some runs for speed (pace or tempo), some runs for strength (hills or sand), some for distance (10% longer than usual, time wise), and many base building runs for health, endurance and recovery.

    6) Treadmills are great for pace work. Here’s a workout that I like to do:
    30 seconds walking at a VERY leisurely pace, bump up the speed by 0.25, do 30 seconds at that pace, bump it up by 0.25. Continue doing this until you’re power walking. Continue doing this (every 30 seconds, up the speed by 0.25) until you’re walking so fast that you have to break into a slow run. Run for 5 minutes at this pace. Then bump it up by 0.5. Do 2 minutes at this pace, 2 minutes 0.5 under that pace (back to the speed where you barely broke into a run), 2 minutes at this pace, 2 minutes 0.5 OVER the pace, etc. until you’ve completed your desired time. There are dozens of variations of this, but it’s basically interval training. The prolonged warm up actually gives your body the chance to acclimate, and you can push yourself way harder yet feel way better when you’re adequately warmed up.

    Hope you didn’t fall asleep reading this novel. 🙂 After reading your post + writing all that I’m now fired up to run.

  13. I agree with Eden here – I don’t get why would you force yourself to do something you don’t even like? There are PLENTY of ways to be active, the thing is just to find some you really enjoy. 🙂

    • I do agree with you guys, but I don’t mind running now (I am kind of joking with the “hate” thing, that’s a strong word), but I think the only reason I didn’t like it when I was younger is because I never gave it a REAL try. I thought it was boring, and I assumed it sucked. While I don’t enjoy the treadmill, I DO enjoy running outside, but I feel like there was some “fake it til you make it” going on. And I didn’t really realize how much I liked it until after I had finished a run.
      Trust me, I am all about having fun, but running is the best exercise for me because I don’t have to spend any money, I don’t need any equipment, I can do it anytime, anywhere, and I can do it alone. I can’t say that about anything else, so it works for me, even if I don’t enjoy it as much as, say, skiing 😉

  14. I used to abhor running on the treadmill because it bored me to death. While I still don’t love it now, I find that watching TV while running on the TM helps a lot! I actually look forward to my morning treadmill runs now because I watch Fresh Prince of Bel-Air re-runs!

  15. 1) This is HILARIOUS…and it made me nostalgic for my childhood a little
    2) I hate running – I just get bored really easily even when I’m listening to music. I start out all “it’s just me and the open road! I am a champion!” and then after about 10 minutes I’m over it. Maybe I need to try the audiobook thing – it works for my husband, he listens to books and podcasts when he runs.

    Thanks for the tips and hilarious Wayne’s World nonsense 🙂

    • Ah, I hear ya. I wish I could go back and watch Wayne’s World for the very first time all over again.
      And yes, I do that as well. I start out all great for the first minute, and then there is a bit of a hump…but then I get back into it!
      You are welcome.

  16. I think your tips are really cute and fun! I definitely agree with “you do not have to run fast”. So many people get discouraged because they are slow in the beginning. I walked for 3 months bc I was out of shape before I started running again so it’s definitely a process.
    Also run without music sometimes. It will be weird at first but it helps you pay attention to your breathing and form.
    I motivated myself by buying cute clothes. I was like “I HAVE to run after spending all of this money!!”

  17. Ok, I’m really glad someone else thinks they look ridiculous while running. I always think I’m like the only person who does not know how to run. I don’t know what to wear while running and my headphones always awkwardly hang from my ears and hit me in the chest. I’m proud of myself because I used to not be able to run further than down my street and now I can run for 15 minutes! Although, I don’t know the difference between running and jogging.
    Funk Soul Brother is my go-to running song, along with Party Rock Anthem.
    I think eventually, if I keep at it, I’ll look less like an awkward ostrich and more schwing.
    Thank you for the laughs and great tips!

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  19. Great post! I find running to be a love-hate relationship. I still dread the first couple miles, and give myself excuses of why I shouldn’t run. Once on the road, the love begins. Keep on running!

  20. Great post Lindsey! The running tips were helpful, thanks! Again I’ll say how proud I am of you for starting running and sticking with it. I don’t know about the treadmill, that one’s tough. I’ve always stayed away from it. I’m sure your running tips will help.

    • Thanks lover! I’ve taken a little break from the running since it is so cold and I hate the treadmill, but I AM running that 10k. I am committed in my head.
      I actually really enjoy the arc trainer, so I usually just go on that for gym cardio.

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  23. I’m late to the party, but I just found your blog this morning. Really good stuff! Everything you said about running, I was laughing because that is so ME! Just like you, I want to LOVE running (just like I really want to love eggs). It really does look awesome. I too envy people who love it. I hate running so much that the conditions have to pretty much be perfect for me not to give myself an excuse to not do it. I did outdoor running for about 3 months last year (hating it the whole time), and one day, I was just like, “no more.” I hated the cold, the dark, getting thirsty, having to pee, etc. However, I recently picked it up again because now I have a treadmill (courtesy of Craigslist) in my basement (which is finished, so it’s not a dark gross place to work out). I can’t talk myself out of it because of dark or rain, so I get up and just do it. I have my TV, my tunes, my water, my toilet. The perfect conditions. I’m just waiting for the love part to kick in.

    • Thank you for your comment!
      That does sound like awesome running conditions. Though I have a feeling it would still not be awesome enough for me to not hate the treadmill, so good for you! I don’t mind outside though, I gotta say.
      It’s okay if the love part never kicks in. As long as you’re at a good almost like, it’s allllll groovy 🙂

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