How to Start Running When You Hate Running

How to Start Running When You Hate Running

A woman with a determined expression starting her running journey.
Breaking Free: Embracing the Joys of Running

Running is one of the most accessible and effective forms of exercise. It requires very little equipment, can be done almost anywhere, and provides numerous health benefits like improving cardiovascular fitness, building stronger bones, and relieving stress.

However, many people dislike running or even hate it, especially when just starting out.

The good news is that there are many tips and strategies to make running more enjoyable even if you hate it at first.

With some patience and the right approach, you can make running a habit you look forward to.

Accept That You Don’t Have to Love Running


One of the biggest mistakes new runners make is thinking they need to love running right away.

It’s perfectly normal not to enjoy running, especially if you have never been a runner before.

Running can be challenging and uncomfortable when you first get started.

So don’t worry if you don’t have a runner’s high after your first few runs.

Accept that running may not be your favorite activity, but also have an open mind to let it grow on you over time.

The more you run, the easier it becomes.

Start Slow and Gradually Increase Your Speed


When starting a running routine, go at a slow, comfortable pace.

Pushing yourself too hard too soon is a surefire way to make running miserable.

Run at a pace where you can maintain a conversation.

As you build your endurance and running economy, you can slowly increase your speed and distance.

But especially during your first few weeks, focus on time on your feet rather than pace.

Gradually running faster and farther will come naturally as your fitness improves.

Find a Running Buddy or Join a Running Group


Running alone can get monotonous and lonely.

Having a running partner or group makes running more social and fun.

You can chat during the run to make the time pass quicker.

A running buddy also provides safety, accountability, and motivation to get out the door.

Look for a group run at a local specialty shop or seek out a group on social media.

Just be sure to choose runners at a similar ability and pace.

Run in a Beautiful Place


Scenic running routes make miles go by faster and add enjoyment to your run.

Look for trails, parks, waterfront paths, or historic neighborhoods with charming architecture.

Tuning into nice scenery and your surroundings helps distract you from running discomforts.

Changing up your route regularly also prevents boredom.

Discovering new beautiful places to run can make you look forward to lacing up your shoes.

Listen to Music or a Podcast


Listening to upbeat music or an engaging podcast is another excellent way to distract your mind from running misery.

Get lost in your favorite pump-up playlist or the latest murder mystery podcast episode.

The miles will fly by when you have an entertaining audio companion.

Just be sure to use bone-conducting headphones or keep the volume low if running outdoors so you can stay aware of your surroundings.

Set Realistic Goals


It’s easy to get discouraged if your running goals are unrealistic.

For example, setting a goal to run a half marathon within your first month of running could set you up for failure and frustration.

Instead, set small, achievable goals like running consistently 2-3 days per week or completing a 5K within three months.

Meeting your goals will build your confidence and motivation to keep running.

Gradually increase your distance, speed, or duration goals as your fitness level improves.

Focus on progress, not perfection.

Reward Yourself for Your Progress


Positive reinforcement in the form of rewards helps make the running routine feel less like a chore.

After certain milestones like completing your first 5K or running consistently for a month, treat yourself to something special like a massage, new running shoes, or a fun outing with friends.

Having rewards to look forward to gives you extra incentive to get out for your runs.

Just be sure rewards don’t undermine your hard work, like rewarding running with unhealthy food choices.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Rest Days


Rest days are just as important as run days when starting a running program.

Beginners should run no more than 3-4 days per week, allowing 48 hours between runs early on.

Rest days allow your muscles time to recover and repair from the impact of running.

Continuing to run day after day with inadequate rest increases your injury risk.

Listen to signs of fatigue like muscle soreness or loss of motivation and take a rest day.

Cross-train on rest days with low-impact activities like walking, yoga, or swimming.

Stay Hydrated and Fueled


Dehydration and lack of fuel make running far less pleasant.

Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after runs.

Carry water for longer runs or runs in heat and humidity.

Eat a carb-rich snack an hour or two pre-run and fuel mid-run for 45+ minute efforts.

Carbs and optimal hydration provide the energy and fluid you need to run your best.

Poor hydration or nutrition leads to fatigue, and cramps and drains enjoyment from running.

Wear Comfortable Running Shoes


Quality, well-fitting running shoes make every step feel better.

Visit a specialty running store and try on many brands and styles to find the right pair for your foot type and gait.

Replace shoes after 300-500 miles as cushioning breaks down.

Old, worn shoes lacking support contribute to aches, pains, and discomfort.

An investment in proper footwear is crucial for making running more comfortable and injury-free.

Listen to Your Body


Learning to listen to your body’s cues is an important running skill.

Pay attention to any pains or niggles that come up while running.

Know the difference between normal muscle soreness and more serious injury pain.

If the pain persists or intensifies, get it checked by a sports medicine professional.

Don’t ignore or try to “run through” unexplained pain.

Slow down or stop a run if something doesn’t feel right.

Pushing through pain often leads to more severe injury requiring lengthy time off.

Don’t Give Up


When you’re struggling to get motivated for a run or not seeing the results you hoped for, don’t throw in the towel completely on running.

Accept that running has ups and downs, especially when getting started.

Have faith that with consistency over time, running does get easier and you will get fitter one mile at a time.

On unmotivated days, just focus on getting out the door for even a 10-minute run.

More often than not, you’ll end up finishing your planned workout. But even short runs maintain your routine.

Tips for Making Running More Enjoyable


Here are some additional tips to help make running a habit you look forward to:

  • Run first thing in the morning when you have the most energy and fewest distractions.
  • Include fartlek pick-ups during runs to break up monotony.
  • Find scenic routes for variety.
  • Run to a coffee shop for a reward mid-run.
  • Stick to a consistent running schedule, like Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Join a local running club for camaraderie.
  • Read inspiring books and blogs about running.
  • Sign up for races to have goals to work towards.
  • Run trails for a change of scenery from roads.
  • Experiment with different types of runs like intervals and hill repeats.
  • Share your running journey on social media for accountability.
  • Upgrade your running gear like shoes, watches, and clothes over time.
  • Run at beautiful times like sunrise or sunset.
  • Explore new neighborhoods, parks, and trails.
  • High-five or smile at other runners.
  • Keep an upbeat, optimistic attitude.


How long does it take to start enjoying running?


It typically takes at least 1-2 months of consistent running 3 days per week before it starts being more pleasant.

Give yourself time to gradually build fitness and overcome initial discomforts.

Consistency is key.

What if I have to walk during my runs?


There is absolutely no shame in walk breaks, especially when first starting out! Run at a comfortable pace and walk when needed for 1-2 minutes until you catch your breath, then start again.

Should I run every day?


No, rest days are crucial, especially for beginners.

Run no more than 3-4 days per week with at least one rest day between runs to allow your body to recover and adapt.

What is the best way to become a runner?

The best way is to start slow with realistic goals, be consistent with 3 short runs per week, gradually increase total weekly mileage by 10%, listen to your body, and mix up routes, surfaces, and workouts.

Patience and persistence pay off.

How can I avoid running injuries?


Injury prevention best practices include proper footwear, regular strength training, gradual mileage increases, rest days, running on softer surfaces, posture and formwork, and avoiding “too much too soon” fatigue.

Also, listen to warning signs and get problematic pains checked out quickly.

Running does not need to be torturous. With realistic expectations, smart training, and injury prevention habits, you can make running an activity you look forward to. Use these strategies to make running more fun and sustainable. Over time, you may even grow to love hitting the pavement! Just focus on building the routine first and gradually making small improvements. Before you know it, you’ll have finished your first race and be planning your next.

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