6 Ways to Make Running More Fun

A running jumping in the air in celebration

Running is hard, but it can also be fun.

Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned competitor, your body and mind can benefit from an intentional “fun run.” What that means depends on you, your experience level and what you like. Maybe it’s just ditching the GPS watch to enjoy the scenery, or maybe you’ll thrive in a bigger group.

No matter who you are, though, your running can benefit from a smile and relaxed attitude. Here are some ways to make running more fun.

1. Run With Friends

Whether you find some casual running buddies or join a training program, running with a group makes you happier. Find folks with similar goals and abilities, and see how building a running community can make running more fun.

Create a regular hangout. Meet at a local spot and relax together afterward. If it’s a Saturday morning run, bring a change of clothes and stick around for coffee and breakfast. After work, grab dinner or a beer with your running buddies. The run is extra fun when it becomes a social event with a treat at the end.

A trail runner wears a Nathan hydration pack

2. Deviate From Your Routine

A little change may be all you need to make your runs feel more fun. Maybe social runs are your norm and you are beginning to crave solitude. Switch it up. Go for a quiet solo run in the woods, or anywhere that makes you happy.

Your favorite route will eventually get stale. Running is an excellent way to explore new places. Try a local trail, park or a neighborhood on the other side of town.

Run at a different time of day. If you typically run after work, switch things up and run at sunrise. You may discover a new habit that you didn’t know you would love. You can also use running as a means to get out of town. Find an interesting route to explore on a weekend. Take a running vacation, retreat or destination race.

3. Try a Running Event With a Twist

Not a race, mind you, but an event. You get a more relaxed experience when you nix the competition, and you can meet people and see an area in a new way. One of our favorite examples is the On Art Run. These runs take place in major cities around the US. Runners come together to try out On shoes and run through the city to see public art in a new way.

Or go out for a drink. The Hash House Harriers is a self-professed “drinking club with a running problem” that has been around since the 1930s. They have running clubs all over the world. It’s essentially a running scavenger hunt for beer. These groups can be a little wild, so join at your own risk!

4. Use Running to Help Others

Some folks just need a goal race to get jazzed about training. Others need a greater sense of purpose. Running to raise funds for a favorite organization is a popular option. SoleMates is one of our favorites. Many parents like to run with their kids, or run as a way to stay healthy enough to keep up with them.

Dogs can also be an excellent source of fun and motivation to get out the door. Take your dog exploring or even run a race with your dog. If you like animals but don’t have a dog of your own, many animal shelters are in need of volunteers to walk or run with dogs. It’s fun and a much-needed service for the dogs and the shelters. This typically requires a brief training. Check with your local shelter to learn more.

5. Use Technology to Keep Things Interesting

There are so many running apps to take advantage of these days. Whether you use tech to count your miles, build your training log or keep tabs on your competitors, social media has changed running culture. It can be an excellent source of motivation and make running more fun.

A woman sitting down using a leg massage tool

6. Listen to Your Body

Sometimes you need to ignore the list of things you think you “should” do. Maybe you compare yourself to others who seem to run long and hard every day. Or you have a hard workout on your schedule, but you are exhausted.

If the idea of running fills you with despair, listen to that feeling. Perhaps you need a massage or a yoga class more than you need to run. Pay attention to your own needs, and take care of yourself. All of your runs will be more fun if you nurture your body and mind.

By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.

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