What things can I do to help running feel enjoyable?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing! I was invited to talk on BBC Radio Derby about my passion for running and was asked a brilliant question.

What things can I do to help running feel enjoyable?

It was a huge question! One that I felt a 2 minute answer wouldn’t do justice, so I thought I’d give a longer more detailed answer here.

Natural Born Runners is all about handing the initiative to you the runner. Yes I’ll always weigh in my two pence worth but creating an experience of truly enjoyable, fulfilling running has to come from you ultimately.

My advice is to dig deep in to the details. Which aspect of running do you not find enjoyable?

Next time you go out for a run, start sensing, searching, feeling, adapting, allowing and run with autonomy. The reason you’re not having fun might not be apparent at the beginning but each time you head out of the door, target different aspects of your approach.

You may have read or listened to someone else’s approach to how they started their running journey and thought, yeah I’ll give that a go. There will always be an aspect of “borrowing” ideas and methods from others, but adapt these methods for your own enjoyment.

So what aspects of your running could be causing the enjoyment factor to drop? Which areas could you focus on? Here’s a few to get you started.

Breathing – Does breathing feel relaxed or is it causing you to panic? What can you do to ensure breathing remains comfortable?

Apps – Are you using an app to help you reach a milestone? Is the app making you run more/less than you feel you can do comfortably? Is it causing you to feel drained and knackered or bored and detached? Does it stop you getting into a flow? Is this the reason why you’re not enjoying the experience? Could you try a run without the app? Or just use the app as a guide but add walking breaks or longer running sections if that’s what is required?

Movement – How do you feel when you run? Is the act of moving causing discomfort/pain or is the general movement experience not feeling flowing? What can you do to make the act of moving feel more rewarding and enjoyable?

Pressure – If you’re training for a race or maybe just caught the running bug, are you feeling overly competitive with yourself? Are you always trying to run faster with each run? Are you feeling anxious before you even leave the house? Does that sometimes result in you not going for your run?

The bottom line is the more you get out for a run and enjoy it, the greater the chances of achieving your goals, whatever they might be. If you hate every second, its unlikely running will become a part of your life and will certainly not be helping your mental and physical health.

When things aren’t going to plan and running is feeling rubbish, I ask myself one question:

What can I do right now, to bring enjoyment into this moment? It’s normally to slow down to a walk, reconnect to the breath and be thankful I’m outside moving my body. When I’m ready I’ll start running again. Even after 12 years of running, it still happens! I just have to react and be kind to myself.

There is no success and failure in running, there are just choices. You choose in the moment what will give you that feeling of reward. Nothing else matters.

Listen to me chat on BBC Radio Derby. I’m on at around 18:40pm.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_derby

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