How to Enjoy Running and Become Better at It
For the vast majority of us mortal humans, running does not come easy. Nor is it enjoyable.
The repetitive, non-eventful, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, shouldn’t have eaten that big meal beforehand, what’s the point of it all, sweat-filled misery sums it up. In fact, just thinking about going for a run can bring as much dread as the actual deed itself.
We understand that.
So what’s with all those people that enjoy it? The ones who go through this suffering for fun? You know, the ones you see out on the trails and in the streets strutting along with big smiles on their faces.
What’s their deal?
Are they masochists? Are they insane? Or were they just born with some running gene that the rest of us got shafted out of?
It’s hard to say. We can’t speak for everyone’s psychology or genetic makeup, but we don’t believe a running gene is a thing.
That said, here’s what we do know. When you feel like you have to fight for every step, it’s not going to be enjoyable. When you feel like you’re in quicksand with a piano tied to your back, it’s really going to put a damper on your experience.
However, there is good news. That can be changed. You don’t have to be that way any longer. You can take the piano off your back, feel lighter on your feet, and dare we say it, be one of those people that enjoy running.
All it takes is 3 easy points to focus on during your run. That’s it. Simple, practical, and effective solutions to make you enjoy running and become better at it.
Let us begin.
We’ve all been there. We come out of the gates looking and feeling like a million bucks, only to turn into Quasimodo 10 minutes in.
It’s a bad look. To make matters worse, poor posture will actually lead to a lot of common running injuries. And that, my friend, is never fun. So here’s what we need to do –
Stand tall and proud at all times.
How to know if you’re standing tall (and proud)? Imagine there’s a string attached to the top of your head, pulling you straight up to the ceiling. Not pulling you forward and not pulling you backward. Simply pulling you straight up into the clouds directly above you. This is an easy reminder to make sure you’re upright and not leaning one way or the other.
Throw your shoulder blades back and tuck them into your back pockets.
When fatigue sets in, often times the shoulders are the first thing to go. Without you knowing, they hunch forward and Quasimodo creeps in to take your place. So periodically roll them back and then down as if you’re tucking them into your back pockets. Try it a couple times before you go out for a run to see how it feels. In fact, why not try it right now? Roll those suckers straight back, and then tuck them into your back pockets. You’ll feel the difference between good posture and hunchback.
Naturally, when you stand tall and throw your shoulder blades back into your pockets, your body will adopt a couple other good habits – your eyes will be forced to gaze forward, and your chest will be upright. Both crucial for good running form.
However, the only way to ruin good posture is to not relax while you’re doing it.
This means arms relaxed, shoulders relaxed, head relaxed, everything. Yes, you're going for a run, but even though you’re moving, it can still be a relaxing experience. Let’s treat it that way. So as an easy cue to remind yourself to loosen up a bit, try wiggling your fingers every couple of minutes. You’d be surprised how many people actually run with their hands clenched into fists. That’s the telltale sign that tension is dominating their body. So remember to wiggle your fingers and enjoy the ride. Life’s too short to have it any other way.
2. FOOT STRIKE
High knees are a great plyometric exercise. They really are.
But we’re not talking about plyometrics here. We’re talking about running. So in today’s practical lesson of how to enjoy running while becoming better at it, we want to move forward – not up.
In the jogging world, vertical energy = wasted energy. And who’s got all that spare energy to waste?
So please, at all times, keep your feet as close to the ground as possible. Almost as if you’re gliding across this big planet with effortless ease. It’s the most efficient way to go the farthest you can with the least amount of effort.
Trust me, your knees will thank you later for this.
Speaking of saying ‘thank you,’ that brings us to our next point.
Yes, that’s right. We picked gratitude as a top 3 candidate. Sure, we could have gone with warm-ups, cadence, or 10 million other things that all play a very significant role in improving your runs. But in terms of the top 3 crucial areas on how to enjoy running while becoming better at it, gratitude cannot escape the list.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this – you’re going to have bad days out there. That’s called life. There will be times when you have lead legs and your mind gets hijacked and sent into the downward spiral of misery. We’ve all been there.
This is why gratitude is so important.
Each run is a gift. Whether we feel like it in the moment or not, it is. For those of us who are healthy and fortunate enough to get out there, we need to be thankful.
That is why we suggest to not focus solely on the run at hand, but to recognize and look around at all the beauty surrounding you. Have your eyes wide open, soak everything in, and become fascinated at what you’re able to do. Thank the sun for shining, thank your legs for tugging you along, and be grateful for the life you’re living in this moment. You truly are a miracle in motion.
Plus, a thankful heart is a happy heart.
And it will make your runs so much more enjoyable.