It isn’t always easy starting a running routine and figuring out how to stick with it, but the habit (and dare I say, joy) of running can be easier with a little help! Find ways to make running fun and get into the right mindset with these simple tricks and fun ways to get off the couch and get moving in your community.
Running has been a love and a loathe of mine for many, many years.
Some days it’s my best friend – helping me with anxiety, allowing my cluttered brain to clear, pouring out all the feel-good endorphins so I don’t want to choke anyone when I’m wound-up (kidding…not really…but kinda).
Other days I feel like a sloth dragging my feet on the pavement, cursing this ‘hobby’ and wondering why anyone thought it was a good idea to just run for the heck of it. Oh and trust me, running was never my forte. Years of trying to like it or being forced to do it (eh hem high school sports) and I still couldn’t run a mile without wanting to barf.
Now that I’ve got you thinking of barfing while running, I’m sure you’re extra motivated to read on! But stay with me.
The Right Mindset
Once you figure out the magic steps of starting a running routine, the benefits of running are more than just physical. And you may just learn to actually…(*gasp)love it. Especially running around your own community! Finding the hidden scenic gems and paths that take your mind off your lungs and into a place of gratitude, joy, and appreciation for the great outdoors actually quite euphoric.
That’s what I found running through the Embrey Mill Community in Stafford Virginia. Located just five miles south of the Quantico Marine Corps Base and includes approximately 2,000 townhomes and single-family homes (which explains why 67% of the community is made up of service-members). A community like this makes running simply more fun!
Simple Hacks to Get Motivated
So if you’re ready to channel your inner Forrest Gump and need some tips and tricks for starting a running routine, let’s do this.
Tip #1: Create an irresistible playlist
Music has helped me power through running slumps in so many ways. It diverts my mind, it gives me a little boost when a particularly awesome jam comes on, and it helps me enjoy the entire experience so much more.
Create a playlist of songs you love. The genre doesn’t matter – music that brings back great memories? Perfect. Songs that inspire you and give you a spiritual awakening? Awesome. Tunes that just pump you up? Boom.
Here are 12 upbeat songs I play for motivation that have a great beat for running too!
- Gotta Work – Amerie
- How I Feel – Flo Rida
- If I Can’t Have You – Shawn Mendes
- Confident – Demi Lovato
- Bang Bang – Jessie J
- Lose Control – Missy Elliot
- No Roots – Alice Merton
- Break Free – Ariana Grande
- Make the World Move – Christina Aguilera
- All I Am – Jess Glynne
- Fireball – Pitbull
- I Don’t Care – Ed Sheeran
Or if music doesn’t do it for you, binge-listen to a favorite podcast. Distraction is the name of the game here!
Tip #2: Stretch
Movement is obviously the first step for any physical activity – but the struggle is real just getting going. That’s why stretching is a ‘gateway drug’ for running. Here’s why:
Stretching a minute or two gets your bod nice and loose, and blood flowing! Just the act of getting up and moving in some way, shape, or form can catapult you to get started. Plus, stretching is a very non-intimidating way to discover that initial motivator to just get moving.
Whenever I struggle to start, I’ll take 2-5 minutes to simply stretch. Some of my favorites include side overhead reaches (see very bottom photo), a standing quad stretch and a crescent standing lunge or sometimes known as a runners stretch (pictured above).
Click here to learn more about proper form an alignment when performing lunges.
Tip #3: Don’t Allow Negative Thoughts
Look, if you’re new to running or struggling to get back into it, I’m sure you know all too well the negative thought patterns that inundate your head when you’re ready to take that first step.
“It’s going to be hard”
“I’m so tired”
“I don’t want to start”
Thoughts just jumble and pile into a brain slurry of distraction. Suddenly you find yourself still sitting on the couch or struggling to walk out the door, wondering why it’s so darn hard to just start.
Do NOT overthink it – specifically….don’t let the negative thoughts overrule your brain. Guess what? You control those thoughts, so shut ’em down.
The easiest way to do this is to distract your brain with a totally different thought unrelated to the upcoming activity and JUST START MOVING. Take the action, start pacing your steps, and go. Every time a negative thought pops back into your head, squash it.
You may not finish the big distance you’ve been dreaming of, but the art of just getting going is the hardest, yet easiest to master with lots of self awareness and practice! Any run is better than no run!
Tip #4: Get scenic
There are so many wonderful opportunities to break up the mundane action of running – especially when it comes to changing seasons and exploring different communities (like I did running around Embrey Mill).
When we find opportunities to break up the scenery, or experience the action in a different way, it can totally transform the act of running into a boring ‘have-to’ into a fun way to explore and refresh.
Running during a misty afternoon, taking a few loops around a neighborhood with gorgeous homes, trotting through a leaf-lined trail, or an early morning jog as the sun rises over the water makes a world of difference! In fact, it’s those experiences that bring my best ideas to fruition, calm my craziest mind, and where I bust out my longest runs.
I love finding communities with all the scenery built in – just like Embrey Mill. This community has 10 miles of paths and wooded trails, 285 acres of open space, seven distinct parks, a community garden, doggy stations throughout the community, a racetrack park for tricycles and scooters and a full-service bistro and cafe! TONS of places to explore – which makes the minutes feel like seconds.
Get over the hump!
Starting a running routine should be more fun than dread with a few motivation hacks and movement tips. The first steps are always the hardest, but the more practice you having busting through, the easier it will be.
And just remember, sometimes just three minutes of jogging can help you gain momentum for another three, six, nine, or 29! Don’t set a goal, just give yourself grace to go as long as you can- focus on getting going every day instead of hitting a timed or distance goal.
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