How to Learn to Love Running

Here are ten ways to positively alter your opinion on running.

In our society, running is often seen as a form of punishment. This is clearly shown through ex­ercises, such as suicides and sprints, which have become infamous to both athletes and anyone who has been forced to complete them. However, this view is misconstrued be­cause, according to organi­zations such as ACTIVE that specialize in fitness, running daily can reduce stress levels, ward off feelings of depres­sion or anxiety, improve sleep patterns and even help raise self-esteem. Hockaday alum­na and former Stanford racer Jackie Choucair, avid run­ner and former racer Glenys Quick and sophomore runner Eleanor Wilson said they have developed a deep passion for this misunderstood pastime over the years. “To me, run­ning is like water; everybody needs it,” Choucair said.

Luckily, there are ways in which one can alter his or her opinion about running and learn to see it as a source of relief and even a source of en­joyment.

  1. Location, location, loca­tion! Find a fun location. Pick what environment suits your running style best. Are you the adventurous type who wants to run free in the thrill of nature, or are you more of an inside girl who prefers the comforting feel of air conditioning? Choucair said she prefers running outside because “it clears my mind and reconnects me with nature and what matters in life; it’s a huge stress reliever.”
  2. Buddy up! Run in a group. De­cide whether you would like to run solo or in a group. Friends are a great way to keep yourself interested and an effective way to push yourself to keep going even when you want to give up; however, running alone can help you concentrate, thus al­lowing you to devote your full attention on a satisfying run. “Find what works for you. There is always going to be one envi­ronment that works for one per­son but not the other,” Choucair said.
  3. Keep the beat. Figure out whether listening to music while you run is effective or just distracting. If music motivates you, make a playlist with songs that pump you up and get you excited for your run. Do what works for you.
  4. Run for fun. Participate in fun runs and let out your competitive side! Dallas offers a multitude of races throughout the year that will both challenge and excite you. Most of the rac­ers in these runs show up either to promote awareness for a good cause or simply for the love of running. “The environment in runs like the Color Run is great because everyone is supporting each other, motivating me to en­joy it even more!” Wilson said.
  5. Mix it up! Try to mix in other workouts with your run. There are many workouts to choose from: yoga, cardio ses­sions, Zumba and sports. “I run every day and then layer things on top of it. I like to do weight lifting sessions, swim or do yoga. Those are my main go-tos,” Choucair said .
  6. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Although finding what suits you is a key part in learning to love running, it is also important to remember to take care of yourself while do­ing so. Rather than carrying a water bottle while you run, sim­ply have one glass of water be­forehand. Veer away from sports drinks. “Drinks like Gatorade are far too concentrated; they can cause upset stomachs and the amount of energy used to digest them could be used instead for running,” Quick said . Also, be sure to keep a look out for how you are running. “The key to a good run is to take your time and to remember to run with your arms loosened so that your thumb brushes your pant leg. By doing so, you allow your lungs to increase properly, making it easier for you to breathe,” Quick said. If you remember to pay attention to these details, your endurance will increase, while your tension will be alleviated, ultimately allowing yourself to have a more enjoyable run.
  7. Go on an adventure! Every year, month or even week, plan a run in a unique location. It can be at a place that has special signifi­cance to you, or even just some­where you have always wanted to run. Dedicate this time to yourself and allow yourself to soak in the beauty of nature and let out your stress.
  8. Enjoy the journey. When you are running, pace yourself and don’t push yourself too much. Start slow and progressively in­crease your pace and running time. “If you start out running really intensely, you’ll just burn out, and it won’t be fun anymore. I say ‘run for fun,’ not for fitness,” Wilson said.
  9. Treat yourself. Cut yourself some slack! Although staying healthy is important, let yourself indulge in something special as a reward for your hard work. You deserve it!
  10. Don’t worry, be happy. Al­though you can get advice on to how to learn to love running, the only true obstacle stopping you is yourself. Convince yourself that you love running and soon enough you will. It’s all about keeping a positive mindset. “All you gotta do is tie your laces, go out and run. You have to stick with it. That first, second, and even third run isn’t always fun,” Choucair said. “To get to that point of comfort, you have to just keep going until you see that light at the end of the tunnel.”

– Heidi Kim