How to Become a Runner Even If You Hate It

Updated:

Running comes naturally to some people, but it can feel like torture to others! For those of us who love running, it’s much easier to get out of bed and go for a quick run or go after work to wind down after a busy day.

But what if you don’t love running? But you know what a great form of exercise it is so you want to do it.

The good news is that you can learn how to become a runner even if you hate it!

Even if you aren’t a running addict, there are ways to start and make it much easier on your body—and mind.

Here’s our advice… We may be avid runners now, but not all of us started off loving the sport this much!

Step 1: Stop Listening to People Who Say It’s Fun

It’s absolutely okay if you don’t find running fun. And you don’t have to listen to anyone who tries to convince you that it’s amazing!

One of the things that can hold you back is feeling bad about disliking running so much. If your friends keep trying to convince you that your feelings are wrong, our best advice is to stop listening.

Instead, accept that you don’t like it. But then accept that you’re going to do it anyway because you know you’ll benefit from it.

Put the negative thoughts aside and make way for positive ones. Don’t think, “I’m not in the mood for this.” Instead, think, “I’m going to feel great when my run is finished!”

Reframe your mindset, and you’ll find it far easier to get into it. Also, focusing on the end benefits is an excellent way to take your mind off the fact that you aren’t a fan of the activity.

Step 2: Find Your Comfortable Running Pace and Place

You’ll need to do a bit of self-assessment to figure out where and how fast (or slow!) you should run. This factor could be holding you back subconsciously, so take some time to work it out.

One problem new runners find is they try to run too far, too fast. This leaves you out of breath, suffering while you run, and thrilled when it’s over.

Instead, figure out a good pace. It may be a slow job, or a run/walk, or something faster.

Then, find safe places to run. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I live in a place where I can run on the road safely?
  • Am I anxious about running in public for any reason?
  • Are there trails nearby where I can run off-road?
  • Do I like the idea of running on the road or off-road?
  • Would I prefer to run inside the comfort of my own home?

The answers to these questions will help you find where you’re most comfortable running.

For some of us, running in public causes anxiety about being seen or perhaps about hazards like traffic or a lack of safety. Others aren’t worried about safety, but might find the road extremely boring.

Nailing down these answers will help you decide what works best for you. Maybe trail running is the best option for you. Or maybe running on the treadmill will be your safe running place.

Step 3: Set a Schedule That Works For You

Do you work long hours? Are you an early bird, or a night owl? There’s no right or wrong running schedule. If you have an hour to spare in the morning before the sun rises. On the other hand, if you can only run when you get home from work, that’s okay too.

Choosing a schedule that works for you and can be maintained over time as you build a running habit is important.

Keep in mind that this could also influence where you run—for example, if you can only run at 10 pm after work, you might prefer to invest in a treadmill rather than hitting the road.

Step 4: Learn the Anatomy of a Good Run

Not all runs are good runs. To make the most of your runs, understand that there are 3 sections to it: the warm-up, the run, and the cool-down.

Warm-Up

Many runners skip this part, even though they know better! Warming up is crucial and can lead to injury if neglected. You prime your muscles for the activity ahead by getting blood flowing through them, bringing oxygen and nutrients for use.

If you’re completely new to running and you’re following a running plan, it won’t necessarily remind you to warm up each time, so it’s a habit you’ll need to get into over time.

You don’t need to spend ages on your warmup. Just five minutes of walking or light jogging will do, or some dynamic stretching and movements like jumping jacks. Five to 10 minutes is all you need—don’t skip it!

Run

Once you’re warmed up, you’ll do your normal run. It’s a good idea to follow a running plan that will help you run with purpose. Running without a final goal in mind can seem pointless!

Working towards a goal will help you to make the most of each run. Know the expectations for your run before you hit the road/deck. If today’s run is a 10-miler and you only realized that 5 minutes before, you won’t be fully prepared.

Cool Down

Don’t neglect this either! Don’t just stop once your run is done. Wind down with a cool down, in a similar fashion to warming up.

5 to 10 minutes of slow jogging or walking or some slow stretches are a good way to cool down. This also gives your heart rate some time to come down.

Bonus Actions to Enjoy Running More

Once you get those things right, there are many ways to spice up your running experience. It’s all about finding what works for you! Try some of these things to help make your running experience more exciting.

Figure Out Your Why

Why are you getting into running? Is it to lose weight? Is it to improve your fitness or your cardiovascular health? Or is it for stress relief after a long working day to eliminate pent-up energy?

Once you know your reason behind doing it, it’s easier to stick to it. Then, when you’re struggling with negative thoughts about running, you can redirect your mind to your motivation for doing this.

Prepare Mentally

Rather than spending your energy thinking about how much you hate running, prepare yourself mentally for the activity. Take some time to actively think about the positive aspects of running.

  • “I’m dropping weight every time I step out on the road!”
  • “I enjoy being out in the fresh air and nature.”
  • “I’m a better runner than I thought!”
  • “I run more than most people do.”
  • “Every step I take is getting me closer to my goals.”

You can sit for 5 to 10 minutes and focus on these positive things. If your mind starts to roll back towards hatred, gently pull it back to something positive.

Choose the Right Gear

Running can be very hate-worthy if you’re using the wrong gear! For example, if your shoes don’t fit you properly, you won’t perform at your best. If your shorts are made of scratchy material, you won’t perform at your best.

Running Shoes

Make sure you’re wearing shoes that fit your feet properly. In fact, we highly recommend getting your feet professionally measured at a shoe store, so you can find the shoes that truly fit you properly—by comfort, not according to size numbers.

Wearing shoes that are too small can lead to blisters, pain, and the development of multiple different foot conditions. Shoes that are too big can make running tricky because they don’t hug your feet and may flop around more than they should.

It’s also important to make sure they offer the right support. Do you overpronate? You need a stability shoe or a motion control shoe. Otherwise, a neutral shoe is a way to go, but don’t accidentally choose a motion-control shoe or you’ll still be uncomfortable.

Figure out what level of cushioning works for you and what keeps you comfortable. Paying attention to your shoes can fix a lot of running hatred!

Clothing

There’s an abundance of running clothing options out there. Shorts, sweatpants, tights, compression shorts… Singlets, sleeveless shirts, sleeved shirts. Each brand also has its own technology in its fabric, so choosing the right stuff is no easy task.

It’s a good idea to start by analyzing your current outfit setup. Remember how you feel during and after each run for the next week or so. Did you get hot or cold while running? Was anything uncomfortable or annoying? Did something bother you, like a tag in a shirt collar?

After a week or so, consider the issues and how to fix them. For example, if you overheat easily on your runs, consider wearing thinner clothing or switching to something with better breathability.

When your clothing works for you instead of against you, you’ll find that your runs become significantly more pleasant.

Consider Nutrition

Do you flake out halfway through your run and always feel dizzy and “hungover” after running? This is enough to make you hate running, but it could be a simple nutrition problem.

Runs longer than 45 minutes should be supplemented with some kind of nutrition. An energy gel, energy chew, energy bar… Something to give your body a quick dose of carbs and replenish energy that’s been lost.

Once that’s absorbed, you’ll get a second wind. In fact, you should take something before you start feeling flat, so you never end up feeling that way. Pack one nutrition item for every hour you plan to run… and then some extra.

Monitor Your Progress

Keeping a running journal can be a huge motivation. When you see how much progress you’re making over time, it’s much easier to begin to enjoy the process.

We highly recommend a running journal to keep track of your stats and data. This includes time, distance run, weather, pace, how you felt during the run, nutrition, and so on.

It also helps immensely when you look back and start to spot patterns. For example, you might realize that you don’t perform well when the weather is hot.

Or, if you’ve been experimenting with nutrition but have some stomach issues, you may look back and realize that you only have trouble when you eat a certain energy bar.

Keeping a training log can make a huge difference in helping you nail down the nutrition, schedule, and conditions most conducive to a good performance for you.

Run With a Friend

If you’re the sociable type, running with a friend can help to alleviate boredom and make things much more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be a friend who’s already a runner—especially if they’re telling you how much fun running is!

You can ask a friend or family member who also wants to get into running to join you. This also gives you some accountability, so you can’t skip if you don’t feel like it on the day!

Listen to Music

Music lovers, you’ll understand how the right tunes can make a workout far more enjoyable! Put together a playlist of upbeat songs that get you moving, invest in quality earphones, and be prepared for more exciting runs.

Keep in mind that if you run on the road, you’ll still need to hear what’s going on around you for safety—bone conduction headphones are excellent if this is the case. If you’re on a treadmill at home, you’ll be able to pump it!

Avoid soft, slow songs as they’ll naturally make you want to slow down. If you know your cadence, try to fill the playlist with songs at just the right tempo to keep you running strong!

Add Variety

Get bored easily? Try adding variety to reduce boredom. You can change your route, try some speedwork, run in the morning instead of the evening, or add cross-training activities to break up the monotony.

Be Patient

The truth is good progress isn’t always fast. Give yourself at least 3 months to start seeing noticeable progress—anything less than that, and you’re not allowing your body and mind enough time to change.

Patience can be hard, so set up some helpers where you can. When you feel impatient, go through your journal and see how you’ve improved. Remember the reason you started running in the first place. Imagine where you’ll be in three months from now.

Be Easy On Yourself

Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t progressing fast enough. More specifically, don’t compare yourself to others! The process is different for everyone. As long as you’re consistent, the results will come.

Remember, positivity is the name of the game here. Stay positive, and you’ll start to lose that hatred of running and develop a determination to do it instead.

Reward Yourself!

When you reach goals, reward yourself! You don’t need to go overboard, but this is an excellent way to give yourself positive reinforcement.

When you can run a full mile without stopping, get yourself your favorite smoothie as a treat. Try to make healthy choices, though—don’t go and run and then reward yourself with a large donut each time!

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.