If you’re reading this, I assume you enjoy running, even if you don’t, keep reading because so much of this article transcends running. It applies to any activity that requires some amount of activation energy; the kind that face resistance to start, are not always blissful in the moment but definitely feel great on completion; a.k.a Type-2 fun. Running is definitely Type-2 fun, but so is any other form of exercise, productive work, heck even laundry. So, back to running, we love it, we have our reasons (however ridiculous) to keep doing it injury after injury but let’s face it, it’s not everyday that we leap for the run. There are many more days when sleeping in/Netflix/literally anything else just seems much more favorable, factor in unfavorable weather conditions and you have yourself the recurring existential question, to run or not to run. I’d like to share some tips that have helped me get through that resistance.
There are situations where not running is definitely the right thing to do. It’s important to self-examine and decide accordingly. Some things to consider include:
Have you been getting enough sleep? Have you given your body enough time to recover? Are you injured? Are you feeling sick or just the usual blues? See, the body processes stress as stress doesn’t matter if it’s physical, emotional or mental, resistance is the way it communicates that it doesn’t need more stress. If that’s the case you are better off skipping in favor of long-term health. If you’re dealing with the blues read on for tips that have helped stay fairly consistent.
2) Break it down
This is a trick that has served me well for long runs, races, work and just life in general. When 20 miles feels overwhelming, I just focus on the next milestone, whether that’s the next aid station, the next intersection or the next mile marker. I allow myself to stop when I get there but almost always I arrive with such momentum that I keep going. The milestone could be as small as stretching or getting to the car or getting to the trailhead or just hiking a few feet, before you know it, you are already flying.
3) Rebrand it
You’re feeling that resistance because the body evolved to conserve as much energy as possible and well running does the exact opposite. Trick your brain by telling yourself you’re doing something low energy, preferably something you do while running. For me that’s meditating, listening to podcasts and audiobooks and catching up with friends. When running is just a means to that end, it feels a lot less daunting.
4) Remember your why
When tricks don’t work it might be time to pull in the big guns. Running is hard, you must have good reason to keep doing it. I wrote about mine [here], what are yours? Whether it’s the simple joy of playing in nature or training for a goal race or staying healthy, tap into that when all else fails.
5) Involve other people
Sure you legs do the running but it’s a lot easier when it’s not about you. Involve other people to keep you accountable. It could be your coach or the friend you committed to running together or the loved ones you wanna be healthy for. I believe the kind of people drawn to running respond very well to commitment, so go ahead and give it a try.
6) Give yourself flexibility
When crunched for time, save yourself unnecessary stress and guilt trips by being flexible. If it doesn’t happen now can it happen later? tomorrow? Can you do a shorter run instead? Can you afford to skip it altogether? A run is still a run whether it happens at 6am or 10pm. It’s weird, but I find that when I reschedule, I get that much more excited for the run.
So, these are some of the ways I get myself to do Type-2 activities. Hope they at least resonated with you or helped you take the first step. Either way, happy trails!