Hate Running? How to Change Your Relationship with Running

When I’m at non-running events, it usually (eventually) comes up that I’m a runner and a running coach. If that illicits any response at all, it’s one of two options: 1) them telling me they are a runner too and we end up swapping stories, or 2) them telling me they hate running, but wish they could love it (or some similar version of how they wish they had a different relationship with running).

I always find this a little odd. I can understand loving something and I can understand hating something, but hating something and wanting to love it? Maybe that makes sense for kale or cauliflower pizza, but running?

OK, just as I wrote that, it suddenly made sense. Running is like cauliflower pizza. It’s healthy and good for you. You know you should like it, but you just don’t…

How to Change Your Relationship with Running

If you hate running, but want that to change, consider a few things.

In true Sara fashion, this involves thinking and journalling.

Why Do You (Currently) Hate Running?

Consider running, just the idea of running.

What images and ideas pop into your head? Where does your dislike/hatred of running come from?

  • Is your opinion of running based on a specific event? A traumatic mile run in the President’s Physical Fitness Test back in grade school perhaps (or was that just me?)?
  • On a belief (that you’ve never actually tested) that you’d hate running? 
  • Based on a horror story your best friend once told you about her failed attempt to run a marathon 10 years ago? 
  • Or maybe your hatred of running is based on that one time you tried training for a neighborhood 5k last year, without the proper gear or guidance on how to run. 

Consider (and journal about) your feelings about running and why you think about it the way you do.

Why Do You Want That Opinion to Change?

If you don’t like running, why do you want to run?

What is behind your wanting to change your mind about running?

If you truly want to be a runner for whatever reason is meaningful for you, that’s great and a good reason to try and change your opinion.

However, if you just want to get in shape, is running the best option for you if you currently hate it?

Why is running your go-to fitness option instead of taking a class at the gym, or swimming, or biking/spinning?

What Goals Are Important to You?

What do you want to accomplish as a runner?

Be specific!

“Being a runner” could mean a million different things. Do you want to casually run 3 days a week with your dog? Eventually train for a marathon (or maybe an ultra)? Something in between?

Consider (and set) your running goals.

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Setting Realistic Running Goals

Set goals that are important to you and remember that your goal needs to be important or meaningful only to you.

If a goal doesn’t resonate with you, ignore it.

For me, I’m not a pace focused runner. Any goal that involves setting a PR or winning age-groups does nothing to inspire me. This doesn’t make those bad goals, they just aren’t goals for me.

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Measuring Running Success

If you like the idea of running, but racing does nothing to inspire you, set goals that ignore doing races altogether. Just because they say runners should do races, doesn’t mean it’s right.

If you do decide on a race as a goal, make your target race (either as a short-term or long-term goal) a race that means something to you. Either a hometown race, or race with a theme or is for a charity that’s important to you.

Gear Up

Running has a reputation for being an inexpensive sport.

‘Just throw on a pair of shoes and run!’ they say. But if you want to succeed in running, you can’t just throw on whatever 20-year-old hand-me-down shoes you have in the closet and expect your body to respond well to running.

Most running gear can be purchased as you go, as you get a better sense of what you need.

But one thing to not mess around with, and that you should purchase before you start running, is a good pair of running shoes. Go to a running specialty store and get fitted for a pair of shoes that are best for you, your running goals and your physiology.

For larger-busted ladies I’d put a good jog bra on the list of ‘need to have day one’ items (I always say- a good pair of running shoes made me a runner, a good jog bra kept me a runner).

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Don’t Go It Alone

What this looks like to you depends on who you are as a runner and as a person.

If you need accountability for a run, make a standing date with a friend to meet up for a run.

If you need guidance on how to run, how to make a plan, or how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Hire a coach (like me, for example. I’m just sayin’)

Want encouragement and socializing? Find a local running club. Running stores usually know the local running clubs and which are most welcoming to newer runners or runners of all paces.

For the introverts among you who want encouragement, but prefer to run alone, join an online running community.

Many negative things can be said about social media, but I’ve found the running communities on Facebook and Instagram to be very supportive, encouraging, and inspiring. There are even fandom running clubs if that’s your thing. I’ve been involved with the amazingly supportive online communities of both the Hogwarts and Whovian running clubs (though I can only personally vouch for Ravenclaw tower).

Try out a few until you find one that resonates with you. Follow runners on Instagram who inspire and support you. And if you don’t want to annoy your non-running Insta friends, consider starting a second, running-only, Instagram account for all your running Insta posts.

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introverts running with a group


One thought on “Hate Running? How to Change Your Relationship with Running

  1. I can definitely relate to hating something and wanting to love it, and I can assure you that it doesn’t only happen to kale or cauliflower pizza. My mother had told me that I used to run a lot as a kid and she had a hard time trying to catch me for bathing time. As an adult, I wanted to get back into the track, but I can’t just seem to find the time needed so I could fully devote myself to the sport. Thank you for giving me tips such as considering my running goals and hiring a personal marathon running coach. I hope I’d be inspired to try harder this year.

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