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How I tricked myself into becoming a "running person".

Image via iStock

When you hit your 30s a few things happen – your loved up friends start getting married and having babies, your desperately single friends start hearing their biological clocks tick on a frequency usually reserved for canines and people start running marathons. In my mind, the first two make complete sense because they’re rooted in evolutionary logic, the third, however, is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

To be honest, a big part of me has always wanted to run a marathon. Actually, I’ve always wanted to want to run a marathon and there is a difference. It’s easy to look at all the fund raising emails that come through from friends running 42 kms for (insert important cause here) and think ‘do I not care enough about (insert important cause here)?’ or, ‘Is there something wrong with me if I’d rather poke myself in the eye than run for five hours, even if it is for (insert important cause here)?’

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My fear of pounding the pavement has always confused me because I LOVE to exercise. I always have. I lose my mind if I don’t got to the gym six to seven days a week but despite feeling that I really should love running, every time I’ve tried it, I’ve hated it.

So at the beginning of this year I set myself a goal: to learn how to not hate running. And here’s how I did it…

1. Get off the treadmill

Not only is it a metaphor for slogging your guts out in life and going absolutely nowhere, running on a treadmill is capital B for BORING. I don’t know what happens to the space-time continuum when you’re on one of these things but I’ll run for what feels like four days, look down and see a demoralising ‘2.5 min’ has elapsed. How are people lining up for this torture during peak hour at the gym?

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Treadmill running is for me, a run of last resort: Trapped inside your apartment building in a blizzard? Hit the treadmill. Trying to get some exercise in a war zone? Hit the treadmill. Want to actually enjoy running? Then you’ve got to be going somewhere and that means getting outside.

2. Write off the first 5 minutes

Anyone who takes their first stride and thinks ‘well, this is just glorious’ is either lying or deserves a punch in the face. I’m usually pretty underwhelmed by the whole experience for at least the first five minutes, but when I start running, I remind myself of that and know that once I’ve pushed through the initial ‘why am I doing this?’ stage it’ll feel better… and it always does.

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Plus, with each run, the time it takes to get to that point gets shorter and shorter. Your muscles and joints just need a chance to scream ‘you’re introducing us to this at 33?!’ but they’ll come around eventually.

3. Trick yourself

When I first started running, I set myself a goal of 20 minutes and I made it to 30. The sense of achievement I felt was overwhelming and that last 10 minutes was genuinely enjoyable because I thought I was gaining something with every second I hadn’t anticipated. After that I made the mistake of thinking I had to beat the time of my previous run and when you’re starting out, that’s just ridiculous. Somedays you’ll run for 45minutes and feel you can do 40 more. Other days, you’ll run for seven minutes and think ‘if I just run directly into the water, Virginia Woolf style, maybe someone will call the police and I’ll have a valid excuse to stop?’

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I’m not training for an Iron Man, I’m running because I want to enjoy it. So, when I go out and don’t really feel like it, I set the goal on my running app to an achievable 15 minutes, then anything on top of that feels like a bonus. The great thing about this is that you usually run for waaaay longer than you thought you would because instead of watching every second tick by as you desperately clamber to 30minutes, you feel like you’re overachieving with every second past your original goal of 15. I know I’m totally playing mind games with myself, but hey, it works.

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4. Get a running app

Download one of these and instead of having to look at your watch every five minutes, a disembodied female voice will inform you of your progress, so you can turn your attention to the art of pretending you’re enjoying yourself. The app (I use ‘Run Keeper‘) will also store all your information so if you run a little faster or longer the next time, you’ll get a ‘new record’ message which is not only a smug thing to tweet, it’s a great reminder that you’re actually running.

Download an app instead of looking at your watch every five minutes

5. You don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner

Anyone who suggests otherwise is an idiot. I appreciate there must be an incredible sense of achievement when you cross that finish line after 42kms and maybe one day my body and mind will decide they want to do it, but until then I’m patting myself on the back for making it through five kilometres without passing out and leaving the risk of heat exhaustion and muscle liquefaction to people more nuts about exercise than me.

6. Try night running

Not only do the over-30s love a marathon but all of a sudden they want to run it at five am? People are always trying to convince me that ‘sunrise is the best part of the day!' but I have always enjoyed exercising as the sun is going down and I LOVE running at night. It’s cooler, quieter and there’s something about the lights of the city and the music in your ears that makes you feel like you might actually be having fun.

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7. Go shopping

I am not a massive shopper but I underestimated how fun the accoutrements of running could be. I bought new shoes, a new outfit, one of those arm band thingys for my iPhone and it made me excited that I was really doing this. I figured, since I’m the kind of exerciser who looks like someone’s thrown boiling water in my face after a light jog, I may as well do what I can to look decent from the neck down.

So there you go, Forrest. Start running!

Check out The Glow team's list of the fitness accessories you need - and the ones you don't:

This article originally appeared on The Allergy Kid and has been republished here with permission.