Running usually helps me relieve stress, but there are times when I’m either bored or tired and I’m not feeling very upbeat when running. When you find yourself in a bad mood during a run, try some of these ideas as a pick-me-up.
1. Ditch the treadmill and run outdoors. If you’ve ever thought that running outside makes you feel better mentally than running indoors, you’re not imagining things. Research does show that even small doses of outdoor exercise can have a significant effect on mental health. In a meta-analysis of 10 studies, researchers at the University of Essex found that moving outdoors for even just five minutes improved both mood and self-esteem.
2. Play the “this could be worse” game. When I’m in a bad mood during a run, I try to make sure I’m not taking running for granted. I think about how I could not be able to run because I’m injured. Or, I think about how I could be stuck in a work meeting, or doing an undesirable house chore like cleaning the bathroom. Before I know it, my mood is elevated and the time starts passing much more quickly.
3. Use a mantra. If you let negative thoughts, such as “I feel tired”, creep in, they’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep saying a positive phrase such as, “I feel good” or “I’m feeling better”. You’ll eventually start to believe it.
4. Smile. Smiling activates your endorphins, and it’s really tough to stay in a bad mood when you’re smiling. If you find it tough to just smile at nothing, look for something that’s worth smiling at, like a cute dog or baby. Or think about someone or something that always makes you happy.
5. Be a friendly runner. In addition to smiling, say hello or make a positive comment to other runners you pass. Doing so can really break up the monotony of your run and will definitely perk up your spirits.
Also see: 5 Mind Tricks to Keep You Running