How To Start Running When You Hate Running

By Maria Abbe of Running Myself Together

The Power Of Habit

I’m not sure anyone enters the world a runner - mentally or physically. In fact, for many, running is an acquired taste. It surely was for me. So how do you start running? How do you take that first step out the door and then do it again the next day and the next?

Habit Formation

In Charles Duhigg’s, “The Power of Habit” he spends a lot of time analyzing what it takes to develop, keep, and break habits. Believe it or not, running can become a habit too.

It begins by creating cues, routines, and rewards surrounding the act of running. And, conveniently enough, Duhigg uses running as an example:

If you want to start running each morning, it’s essential that you choose a simple cue (like always lacing up your sneakers before breakfast or leaving your running clothes next to your bed) and a clear reward (such as a midday treat, a sense of accomplishment from recording your miles, or the endorphin rush you get from a jog).

But it doesn’t stop there. Simply building in a cue (getting home from work) and creating a routine (immediately putting on your running clothes) isn’t enough for a habit to last. One must crave the reward of this newfound habit, says Duhigg. With running, those cravings could be endorphin rushes or a sense of accomplishment. Signing up for a race might motivate you to begin running, but that won’t help you keep the habit. You need an immediate reward that is received after each run.

So, step number one to begin running: Find a clear cue, routine, and reward.

Go Get Them Goals

Athlete Running up Steps

Okay, you’re working on building your habit. Awesome. Now, we need to set some goals. Running is great in the moment, but it’s even better when you’re working towards something.

Personally, running a race has always been the most successful goal for me. You may want to start there, too. Training for a race, no matter the distance, holds you accountable.

Some other goals might be to get in shape or hit a PR. Whatever your goal, write it down. More than once. Post it all over the place - your bathroom mirror, your desk at work, on the fridge. Envision yourself achieving that goal. What will it feel like? What will get better about you once you hit the goal? And have a reward in place for when you do hit that goal. Something a little extra to keep you motivated and congratulate yourself for hitting the goal.

Step number two: Put goals in place.

While creating habits and setting goals are important, you may find that they’re not always enough to keep you motivated.

Running As Therapy

running as theraphy

You may have heard someone say, “Running is my therapy.” And you may have been confused by what they meant. Once you start running, you’ll discover that running detangles life when life gets messy. It gives you clarity and peace of mind. It allows you to take a step away, decompress, and return to normal life with a lot more joy. Need more evidence? Check out this recent article by New York Magazine in which 12 people opened up and explained why running was their therapy.

And I’ve seen it work wonders in my life. I used to suffer from an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression. Running helped me work through all of those issues. As soon as I started running, I felt immediate release. For the first time in my life, my racing thoughts were in sync with my moving body. Life became more clear. My anxieties became less.

No, running didn’t cure me, but it helped put things into perspective by giving my brain the opportunity to run free. When I’m running, I allow my brain to wander and ponder. I think through things I wouldn’t have otherwise thought through. At the end of a run, my heart and my mind are on the same page.

So my suggestion to you (step number three): Take a deeper look at running and find its intrinsic value in your life.

Now Get To It!

Running doesn’t have to be daunting. Running doesn’t have to be hard. Running can be whatever you want it to be. It’s your time to better yourself, release some energy, and figure life out.

Now get to it!

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