I’m not a natural born runner. I wasn’t that kid in gym class blowing everyone out of the water with my mile time on testing day. I ran track and hated it, I ran cross country and hated it. It wasn’t until a few years later, as an adult, that I began to love running, and I mean really love (in a gooey, gushy, all I want to do is run) kind of way.
It started a few years ago when I brought a friend along with me for a training session at the track. Something brutal, like 400 meter repeats for eternity. After sticking with me through that workout she asked me, “Have you ever run just to run? Let your hair down, put music on and just run?”
Cue lightbulb above my head, because at this moment-my whole relationship with running changed.
Not every run has to be a soul sucking, fast as you can #SENDIT style workout. You can just run-to run. It’s as simple as that.
So, how do you get from I HATE THIS to BEST DAY EVER?
1. Slow the f*** down!
Seriously-take a breath and take it down a notch. Few actually liked that gym class mile test. Start your next run with no distance goals, no training plan, and no time limit-the only thing you should focus on is whether or not you are enjoying yourself and the world around you.
2. Find your reason.
I’m not talking about losing 10 pounds, or running your first half marathon. I’m talking about something deeper than that. Find your reason in the process. Is it that you love watching the sun rise on your morning trail run? Is it because running is the time when you are alone and have room to sort your thoughts? Is it because you’re the only one on the trail and you can belt out the words to a LIZZO song without feeling weird? Find the reason that helps you fall in love with the process-and the end goal will come as a by-product.
3. Playlist ON
Music makes the biggest difference. Match your playlist to your mood-feeling like a long, slow send? Great. Turn up that chill, alternative playlist. Trying to maintain a strong pace? Hit something with some beat. Or maybe you want to listen to a podcast? Find what works for you and stick with it.
4. Location, location, location
Find a few routes and make them yours. While I will always recommend changing your routes up to keep things fresh, having a few tried and true trails or road routes you know well will take the guesswork out of the equation. When you know where you’re going you can focus on the scenery, the music, and your footsteps.
5. Have fun and keep going
Listen, there are always going to be the not so great runs. We all have them-but it takes these runs to make us appreciate the amazing, chills throughout your body, life changing runs! Just stick with it. Have FUN! Play rad music, jump over rocks and sticks, twirl around, duck under tree branches and lip sync (or real sing!). This is your time-make your run the best hour of your day.
So, throw your running shoes on, curate a playlist, pick a trail, and run to run. Don’t look at your pace-don’t set a mileage goal. Run by how you feel, focus on your breath, and your body will do the rest.
Laura is on the Marketing & Design Team at NCFIT. She's an endurance athlete focused on trail running and mountaineering.
When she's not training, you can find her drinking too much espresso and capturing the world around her on 35mm film.
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