For some reason, people seem to assume I have always loved running. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Yes, I am training for my fifth half marathon, all of which have been in the last two years, but two years ago I would have told you running was my least favorite workout. Like rock bottom. I hated running, and the only reason I had sort of started in the last few years was because of my dog.
I am the type of person that always needs to be doing something, if not three things. I have a hard time sitting and relaxing on vacation even. Because of that, I found running monotonous and repetitive and I would get bored just being there alone with my thoughts. Listening to my brain non-stop without a distraction? Kill me.
Then it came to the muscles. Using those same muscles and tendons over and over and over for hours on end, I became very aware of the discomfort and pain, which then lead to it worsening, me slowing down, and it becoming more challenging to keep going.
That all being said, I have since discovered lots of great tips which help me overcome these mental and physical roadblocks! Now I love running because of implementing these, and I switch out my methods depending on my mood.
1. Pretend you’re doing another activity.
This is one of the biggest breakthrough methods for me! I am a figure skater, so while I’m in the midst of my run, I will envision myself jumping, spinning, ice dancing, skating with my team, etc. I’m quite good in my imagination! I think the reason this one works so well for me is my breathing, heart rate, and physical movement match what I’m actually doing, so it’s a simple distraction that entertains me as I choreograph in my head. This would also work really well for other activities like dancing, swimming, roller blading, biking, etc.
2. Give yourself a mental “to do list.”
I actually used to practice this back when I had a super boring college job. My mind is always racing, so throughout my week I will add to my mental to do list to process things during my run. This might be brainstorming, analyzing, or working through a problem. Doing it at a time when I’m uninterrupted and can’t do much else is super productive for me! If I need to take notes, I will use Siri and my notes app. Works like a charm.
3. Distract yourself with audio.
Okay, so this one isn’t news. Lots of people have workout playlists that get them pumped up (or even relaxed) while running. I personally love to listen to Jesse Cook’s flamenco guitar while I run as it will help me get into meditation mode. That being said, there are so many more options these days! Audiobooks are a great way to get yourself out of your physical body and into a story. Podcasts are too! I recently have been listening to the How They Blog podcast while I’m running, and it’s great to be learning and bettering myself mentally while I am physically too.
4. Plan for great scenery.
Where I live provides a multitude of beautiful locales for running and finding the beauty of nature while you’re running can have a huge impact on your mood and how distracted you are. I will plan my runs purposefully in gorgeous places so that I can enjoy the beauty and just being outside while I run.
5. Bring a companion.
I actually prefer running alone for various reasons, but a lot of people find having a companion who they can talk to and pace with really helpful for training. For me I usually don’t have a human companion, but my dog Daisy is a great running mate! She has done almost every single training run with me, and she motivates me to keep it up and makes it so I’m not alone.
What helps distract you most when you’re running?