3 Days Is All You Need To Start *Liking* Running — Here’s Why

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So you want to start running. You might only know what running is from catching the bus, or you might just shrug and catch the next one, because who wants to get all sweaty anyway? Or, maybe you loved running in high school, but then an office job happened, or an injury, or any number of other obstacles that might have popped up in your life. Whatever your past experiences are with running, you probably want to know how to like running in three days if you're determined to do it.

Running is tough. There's repetitive stress on your body, there's that awful out of breath feeling, and there's the physical and emotional challenge of just putting one foot in front of the other to walk, let alone run. But there are benefits like "runner's high," and you might want yourself a piece of those sweet depression-fighting chemicals for yourself. Not to mention the fact that running can improve your memory and boost your ability to regulate difficult emotions.

The easiest way to just start running? Just start running. Try to run one mile one day, and one mile the next, and one mile the next. There's no need to turn it up to 11 on the first go-round, but the best thing to do is just start. Some people go into running with the thought that they'll immediately be running the marathon, but that's both flat-out dangerous and not helpful. Instead, by following the framework below, you can think about what you want running to bring to your life — and you might even change your attitude about it by your fourth morning lacing up your sneakers.

To be sure, running isn't for everyone, and that is more than OK. But if you want to give it a try, for the first or fortieth time, here are some ways you can try to make running work for you.


Ask Why You Want To Run In The First Place


When you're starting something new, concentrating on why you're doing it can be so helpful. If you've been slogging through jogging sessions a few times a week and hate it, you might want to think about why you're doing it. Is there a way to address your "why" that might be more effective for you? If so, that's great: go for it. And if you want to start running but you're worried about how difficult it will be, reminding yourself why you want to start (or continue) running can help inspire you. Stick it on a Post-it or slap a love note to yourself on your fridge: You might need it as an extra boost, and that's OK.


Ask *How* You Want To

Running in nature, or even simulating running in nature, can be a great natural mood booster, according to a a 2017 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. That might be awesome news, if hitting the great outdoors is something you look forward to and have access to. But you don't have to get outside to find the joy in running: a treadmill will do just fine. While you're contemplating creating a running practice for yourself, think about what kinds of settings make you happy. Being surrounded by people? Solitude? Lots of greenery? Lots of skyscrapers? Whatever your jam, bring what you already know you like into your run.


Slow It Down

If you're trying to start or maintain a running habit, one of the things that can discourage you more than anything is trying to run too fast. Even if the dude running shirtless on the street passes you by, remember your "why." More likely than not, you're out there for yourself, so don't be afraid to run at your own pace. Even if that pace seems too slow to you, whatever pace feels good to your body is exactly where you need to be right now.

Think about it: you can have two running sessions where you push yourself harder than you're comfortable with, determine you hate it, and stop. Or, you can listen to your body, go slower, and find out that you actually kind of love this whole running thing! Try it out: it can't hurt.


Buddy Up

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For a lot of people, running is their time to be by themselves, and maybe that's the whole reason you want to learn to like running anyway. Alone time is great. But buddy time can be awesome, too. Finding someone you trust and actually look forward to seeing a few times a week (that one's important!) can really help bring a joyful spark to your runs. Because your aggressive gym coach in high school might have been right about pushing yourself to the max, but they weren't necessarily right about creating joy: "If you're laughing, you're not working hard enough," they might have told you. But laughing with a friend during your runs might be exactly what you need, and that's awesome.


Crank Up The Tunes

Maybe you like running to the sound of your own footfalls and breathing, and that is amazing. Especially when I'm trail running or picking up some miles along the beach, the sound of my own breath is incredibly calming (plus, it can help you set your pace). But more often than not, I need a playlist to get me through my runs, and if you do too, that's alright! Design yourself a playlist of tunes that you know will inspire you, pump you up, calm you down, or whatever you think you'll need during your run.

And pro tip: different songs are going to help your run in different moments, and different playlists are going to help on different days. (My Dashboard Confessional running days are very different than my Fall Out Boy running days, but both are embarrassingly delightful.)


Check Your Form

Not to get too technical, but you do want to make sure you're not hurting yourself. And oddly, improving your running form can actually really help you enjoy the whole experience better. So pull your shoulder blades back, keep your arms at a 90 degree angle, your hands relaxed, and making contact with the ground with the ball of your feet (not your heel or toes), and get going. It might seem like a lot to keep in mind, but once your body learns proper form, it'll help you out and make your run a much more fun experience.


Accept That You Might Actually Not Like Running, And That's OK

You've done all the things and you've tried all the strategies. And still, if someone says the word "jog" or "run" around you, your eye starts to twitch in irritation. Your sneakers literally hide in the deepest recesses of your closet, and even your cutest running gear refuses to leave your drawers. You might just need to switch up your exercise routine for a while: you usually don't want to do everything, all the time, even if that thing is something you love.

And you also might just not like running, as a general rule. You can always find a suitable replacement, or no replacement at all. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.


So if you want to run but don't like it, or if you generally like it but want to infuse a little more joy into your practice, try these out. And remember, no one else is in your running shoes, so it's literally all about you. And that's a great thing, for you and your relationship with running.