How to Trick Your Brain Into Loving Running
Ally Love is a certified health coach, fitness model, NBA host, and Peloton instructor. She's also the founder of Love Squad, an online destination created to empower women through fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
Three years ago, I started my running journey. Previously I couldn't even make it one mile without stopping. As a former professional dancer and studio-workout junkie, I'd never bothered with running—it seemed quite tedious and boring. In fact, it took some coercion by a close friend to sign up for a half-marathon. I can't say my first half-marathon was enjoyable, but after eight more plus a couple 10Ks, I can finally say I'm totally in love with running.
While I usually find pleasure in hitting the pavement, I've definitely experienced times when I don't, times when I've fallen off the wagon and am not sure if I'll ever get back on. But as with most things, somehow I always do—thanks in part to a few habits that I fall back on to get me motivated again. Here are three simple tricks to help you enjoy running, whether you're trying to get into it for the first time or want to reestablish the habit.
Find a Fun Run Path
While running may be a free form of exercise, choosing a regular running path can be daunting. Finding a trail that helps you digest your mileage can positively affect the experience. When I was hiding from running and dreading hitting the streets, I opted to try unfamiliar grounds to see how it affected my transition back into the sport. What I learned is that when I run across the busy streets of New York City, it's much easier for me take my mind off the run itself, and focus on bobbing and weaving through traffic. While this can become annoying or even dangerous, I actually found pleasure in the variety. (Just remember to be mindful of your surroundings!)
Dress the Part
My mum used to tell me to dress for success. It's a cliché, but she had a point: To feel like a runner, you want to try to look like a runner. Sometimes establishing your swag will only make you feel better about what you're doing—it's part of fitness culture. And while you're hitting the pavement, if your clothes don't make you feel "better," at least they will prepare you for the task at hand.
Decide: Music or No Music
When I'm in a slump or just not feeling it, sometimes running with just the sound of my breath is enough. It motivates me to focus on clearing the thoughts in my head and whatever is in my heart. Then there have been times when I've been on a wild running hiatus and needed some serious bass-bump remixes to get me to my boss level (aka my inner athlete status). But this trick is about figuring out what works for you at what time. The key is to explore.
To be honest, there have been quite a few times where I have intentionally dodged running. There have been times that I was extremely busy and looked up a month later only to realise I hadn't run a single mile. It is during these times that I rely on my toolbox of tips and ticks.
One of the rules I live by is that not all things work for all people—it's about trying it all and figuring out what works for you. Remember: The magical thing about running is that it will never be conquered completely. Not every run is the same, and every finish line leads to a new start.