Last week I was getting a little bored with my usual suburban running route, so I decided to switch it up and run a hilly route on the other side of town. As I crested a hill and turned a corner, I had an unexpected surprise — the New York City skyline, off in the distance. The incredible vista felt like a little reward for my hard work, and I finished my run with a huge smile on my face.
Switching up your running routine and routes is one way to find more fun and get more enjoyment out of your runs. Here are some other ideas:
1. Run without your watch.
If you’re gadget-obsessed, leave the watch at home once in a while and just relax and let your mind wander. You may be surprised at how relaxing it can be to not be thinking about your pace or distance.
2. Join a running club.
Being part of a running group has the obvious benefit of helping you stay motivated to run. But it can also be fun to compare race stories, share running gear reviews, and embarrassing running issues with other runners who “get” it.
3. Adopt a runner.
Helping someone who’s new to running get interested in and enthused about the sport can be enjoyable and rewarding. If you know someone who wants to run, but doesn’t know how to get started, offer some tips and, more importantly, much-needed encouragement. Experiencing the sport through a beginner may help you realize how far you’ve come and remind you how much you like running. Here are some ways you can help a new runner.
4. Give yourself rewards.
Who doesn’t enjoy prizes? Buy yourself a new running outfit after you’ve been running regularly for a month, and then go for a massage or a pedicure every 2 or 3 months. If you’re not sure how to reward yourself, get some ideas on treats for runners.
5. Run a race for pleasure.
You don’t have to achieve a new PR in every race. Just relax and enjoy a pressure-free race at an easy pace. You may even decide to do the race with someone you don’t typically run with, like a spouse or friend. There are lots of “fun” races out there, such as holiday race, foam runs, relay races, color runs, and glow-in-the-dark runs. Dress in a fun costume or T-shirt to really get into the experience. You may not run as fast as you typically would in a race, but the joy you experience may re-ignite your love of running.
Also see: 5 Mental Tricks to Keep You Running