Written by Jen Van Allen
Even if you’re not a natural athlete, or running doesn’t come easily to you, if you stick with the sport for long enough, we can guarantee that running will feel more enjoyable over time. And once it does, your workouts will start to feel less like work, and it won’t be so difficult to coax yourself out the door.
Here are five tips to make running feel easier, fast.
Technically it’s a four-letter word, but it shouldn’t be forbidden part of your vocabulary. Walking helps warm up and loosen the muscles, bones and joints for the activity of running. Some of the world’s top elite athletes walk to warm up, and walk up inclines on the trails. If you take the first five to 10 minutes of your workout to get the body accustomed to movement—especially if it’s early in the morning, or you’ve been sitting at a desk for hours—it will be much easier to get into a rhythm of running that feels comfortable.
2. Find your slowest possible pace
Yes, you read that right. If you want to go faster, first you have to figure out what pace feels sustainable. Most of your runs should be at this level of effort. Speedwork and tempo runs, which train your body to get faster, should be done just once or twice a week. Many people make the mistake of going out and trying to run as fast as they can from the first step, every time they go out. But that puts you at high risk for injury and burnout. So try to find your “all-day pace”— the pace that you would have to maintain if you were going to run all day. The pace should feel slow enough that you can carry on a conversation. If you’re huffing and puffing and struggling for words, you should slow down. If you can sing the national anthem, you’re going too slow.
3. Find your magic hour
People are born naturally as night owls or morning birds. Likewise, some people are naturally feel more comfortable running in the morning, while others prefer late-night workouts. If your work and family life schedule permit, it’s best to workout within your natural rhythm, rather than try to force yourself into becoming an early bird, or drag yourself out the door later in the day when you feel zapped. Go out for a run at different times of day to figure out what works best with your body’s natural rhythm, and your schedule. The more naturally inclined you feel to get out the door, the more sustainable your routine will become.
4. Embrace carbs
It can be difficult to tune out all the media frenzy that has demonized carbs, and equated carbs with weight gain. Carbs are the body’s most efficient form of fuel. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, if you’re working out on a regular basis, you need carbs in order to run faster, and take your fitness to the next level. Have your most carb-rich meal right before your workout, to leverage those calories to have a great run. Focus on having wholesome carbs from fruits, vegetables, whole-grain sources, rather than processed carbs which can come with a lot of additives, sweeteners, and preservatives that will drag you down.
5. Reframe your workout as recess
If you have trouble getting out the door, pair your workout with an activity that you enjoy: listen to a book or podcast, socialize with a friend, watch ya favorite TV show, or see your favorite trail or neighborhood. Just find a way to make running fun. If you get into the habit of enjoying that experience only when you’re working out, you’ll start to look forward to it. And that will be enough to get you out the door for a workout that you’re kind of dreading. Find a way to convert the obligation of exercise, into a free time that feels like recess, where you get the joy of exhilaration, along with a mental and emotional boost, or the break from everyday life that you need.