The other day I was at a playdate for my daughter and her friends when one of the moms said to me, “how do I like running when I hate running?” She wanted to love running as I do, but she said she had a mental block to actually try to become a runner.
I think there are A LOT of people like her. They assume they hate running and that they can’t become runners. As kids, running was treated as a punishment in sports.
Heck, I became a runner because I was told to run for talking too much at soccer practice almost every week. My dad always wanted me to start running, so I thought, “well, I am running so much at soccer practice anyway, might as well please my dad!”
Why do I hate running?
For many people, they have this negative association with running as it’s a punishment and it is HARD—especially when you’re told willy-nilly to run laps for a half hour and get yelled at for walking. As kids, there was no working up to running for a half hour, you were just expected to do it.
Or you were told to run the mile in gym class or for the Presidential Fitness Class when you had barely run 100 meters leading up to it.
Then, it becomes part of our identity that running is NOT for us. That we are bad at running. So, why even try?
And if we do try, then we realize it is challenging. We don’t have youth on our side. And we get down on ourselves that we can’t even run for 5 minutes let alone a mile. We assume it’s easier for other people and so running must not be meant for us.
We may run a couple of times, then throw in the towel. Then, try a couple of times a couple of weeks later and it’s still hard. So, we quit.
But running is built on consistency and patience. The rewards are huge and life-changing.
Changes to your body aren’t going to happen after a couple of sessions on the road. You have to show up on a regular basis for a couple of months for running to get easier and more enjoyable.
Related: How to Become a Morning Runner
How can I learn to love running?
We learn by doing. Starting to run is easy for NO ONE. We all have to struggle through the first several weeks or months. We have to be patient as our bodies get fitter and stronger and USED to running. Then, it becomes easier.
Then we realize we can do it. We become proud of ourselves, get that elusive runner’s high, and see how the confidence we gain on the roads ripples through the rest of our lives. We feel changes in our bodies and our minds. We have more energy. We make healthier choices. The benefits are endless.
How do I become a runner?
But we have to get over the hump of the first couple of months to get there. We must be consistent, too. Many people run sporadically, and it never gets easier.
The physiological adaptations like more mitochondria, denser capillaries, and stronger bones, tissue, muscles, heart, and lungs need regular stimulus to occur.
When I started The Mother Runners, I said I never wanted to try to convince people to not hate running and to love running. I wanted to help people who already wanted to run or enjoyed running to remove hurdles so they could do it the best they can with the time they have.
But I am changing my tune here. Why? Because I think most people erroneously think they hate running when they could actually love running IF they give it a chance.
Not a couple of runs here and there. But a real chance.
The Not Hate Running Challenge
My challenge to you is to give regular running three months: I don’t want people, especially moms, to miss out on the gift of running because of bad experiences they had when they were younger and misconceptions of who runners are (assuming it’s “not me!”).
Anyone can be a runner! And if you run—no matter the pace or distance—you are a runner!
So, I talked to former non-runners and never-runners about how they got past their mental blocks to become a runner. Their wisdom is below!
And, for practical tips on what to wear, what to eat, a sample running schedule, etc. check out my How to Start Running Guide!
7 Tips to Not Hate Running & Become a Runner
Take walk breaks.
Walking is a MUST when you start running. Ditch any idea that taking walk breaks when running is a failure or a weakness. It’s good for both your body and mind as it adjusts to the stress of running.
Even I, someone who has been running since she was 6 and has run an “elite” marathon time (by some standards) have taken walk breaks when returning to running.
When you start running, you can:
- Follow a run/walk plan (such as I offer) or you can do it by feel. Run until you want to stop and walk. Walk until you feel recovered. Then run again.
Or you can:
- Increase the run intervals and decrease the walk intervals organically. Keep track and challenge yourself to run for longer and walk for a shorter week to week.
When you’re able to run for 30 minutes straight, that is a BIG deal and watershed moment. In most instances, this is when you can start increasing your running by mileage and by adding a day of running a week.
A running coach can guide you in safely increasing your mileage. The more running sessions you do, the fitter you will be!
Find an accountability partner.
Many newbie runners start running with someone else. They find a friend who is of similar ability (perhaps someone else who hates running but wants to love running) and they do a training plan, run/walk, or sign-up for a 5k together.
This running partner acts as their accountability partner. They are the reason to get out of bed to run or stay motivated or not give up.
If you can’t find a running friend in your circle, join a local running group. They will become fast friends (almost guaranteed!). Or you can recruit your kids to run with you!
If these are not options, you can hire a running coach (it doesn’t have to be me!). This person can motivate you towards your goals and guide you in how to progress to the best of your ability and keep you on track. This person can also help you bust through any mental or physical barriers that stand in the way of your running.
Related: 10 Reasons to Hire a Running Coach
Curate your Instagram feed.
A lot of never-runners turn into runners by reading running posts on Instagram and listening to running podcasts. These outlets share running tips and motivation to help you get going! But make sure you choose people who make you feel inspired, not feel bad about yourself. The best accounts to follow may not be the ones with the washboard abs but the ones you resonate with or simply use graphics to share info.
Liz is a mom of 8 who thought she could NEVER run. But when her kids asked her to run a half marathon with them, she took the first step. The rest wasn’t history though.
It was HARD. And she shares how she was able to bust through barriers to become a RUNNER and a triathlete.
I promise you, listening to her talk about her running journey will motivate anyone who thinks they HATE RUNNING.
Set small goals and celebrate when you achieve them.
Listen, don’t try to get the elephant in one bite. Set small goals such as just going outside for 20 minutes and moving your body to see how you feel.
That small goal will eventually lead to bigger goals. Track your progress and celebrate each achievement.
Every time you go running, have an intention, e.g. “today I will run/walk for 20 minutes,” or “today I will run for 2-minute intervals 10 times.” This will keep you on track and moving forward. Celebrate them with a massage or new running gear or simply brag to your family about what you have done.
Many non-runners are converted by signing up for a race. The race day experience is unmatched and proves to anybody that they can be a runner and that the running community is an accepting group you are lucky to be a part of!
Related: 13 Smart Race Day Running Tips
Don’t overthink it–or take yourself running too seriously.
Just do it. There’s a reason why Nike has one of the best taglines in the history of marketing. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a new runner, we tend to overthink things and psych ourselves out.
When the brain starts doing this, just stop. Just stop the cycle. Just do it.
Running doesn’t have to be complicated. It truly is just putting one foot in front of the other. So, cut the strings. Deny the “shoulds.”
Put on your shoes. Go outside. Walk a little. Then jog.
It’s not a lift or death situation. Whether you end up running for a total of 5 minutes or 20, it doesn’t matter. Go out there. Have fun. Give your body grace and a chance to adapt.
Remember (and this is CRUCIAL): Running meets you are you at. A lot of people get freaked out because they think they need to meet a certain baseline to start running. And they are going to get thrown into a super intense training schedule.
But that’s not how it works. That’s how you get injured or burnt out.
No, running grows with you. So, if you have never run a day in your life:
- Start with walking.
- Then once you can walk 30 minutes total, begin run/walk intervals.
- Progress those run/walk intervals to total running.
- Then progress the length you can run.
- From there, you may begin to add in speed work to get faster and chase race goals if you’d like.
*But you don’t have to. You don’t have to run races to be a “runner.”
Don’t forget that running should be fun. It can be peaceful. It can become your escape, release, meditation, and your only “me time.”
Listen to music if that makes it fun (I jam out to Justin
, if I am being totally transparent). Binge on an audiobook or podcast. Soak in nature sounds. Or run with friends.
For so many runners and mother runners, running is their only social time. You get two birds with one stone. You exercise and you get a social connection.
Whatever you need to do to make running fun, do it! No shame!
Related: How to Get Your Motivation Back
Know your why.
When the going gets tough, it’s always important to remember the reason why you’re doing something in the first place.
As you begin your running journey, reflect on the true reason why you want to start running. Write it down. Keep it someplace you can go back to.
Intrinsic reasons—such as being healthier for your family—are more powerful than extrinsic—such a wanting to impress others. So, I suggest attaching your motivation to those that are involved with bettering yourself for you and those you care about.
If you want guidance with your training while running pregnant or postpartum, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
- Postpartum Training Plan
- After a Break Training Plan
- 5k Training Plans
- 10k Training Plans
- Half Marathon Training Plans
- Marathon Training Plans
- Strength Training Plan