4 ways to make running fun again

running sucks

UN-SUCK your run

[Disclosure: Some of the links used here are affiliate links. In particular, the Amazon links. ]

Sometimes running just sucks. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite, a casual runner, or a beginner. You’ll have days when a run sounds so good that you’d step over your own mother to get out the door. Days that the run itself feels effortless and uplifting; and when, after the run, you can’t stop talking about it.

Then there are times when running sucks butt. I don’t mean a small butt. I mean it sucks huge, hairy, woolly mammoth booty. Running will seem so bad that you’ll want to call it quits.

Don’t quit! Don’t do that. I’m here to tell you that the suck will pass. I promise running will feel fun again. (If you are just starting out, I promise that running will become enjoyable if you keep at it.)

Runners like to say “Just run through it!” and I believe that advice holds true in this case. You can and should run through the suck. However, the trick to “running through it” is to make running attractive again. To use the carrot & stick analogy, you mustn’t let running become all stick and no carrot.

Try these 4 tricks. They work for me. I hope they’ll work for you too.

If anything here works for you, or you have other tips to share with your fellow runners, please leave a comment below.

running sucks - headphones
Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

1. head phones

This is one that works for me almost all the time. I’m one of those runners who listens to something on a run—usually music. It’s easy for me to get lost in the tunes, and therefore to get lost in the miles. Running for me is an escape, in the positive sense of the word. A good beat gets my legs and feet moving as I am transported into a another world for the duration of my run.

If I need a break from music, I’ll put on an audiobook from Audible or a podcast. If I’m feeling particularly meta, I’ll listen to a running-related podcast while running. Incidentally, my current favorite is  How Was Your Run Today? Check it out, but with a word of warning: the podcast is often hilarious and it’s impossible to run while doubled-over in a fit of laughter.

Whatever your audio preference—kicking out the jams, or enjoying the theater of the mind—bring headphones on your run to keep things interesting. Use it as an incentive. If you have a nice pair of headphones, tell yourself they are for running only. Or if you pick up an audiobook from Audible, tell yourself that it’s only for your next run.

Even if you want to enjoy the sweet sounds of silence on your next run, bring your headphones anyhow to insure you don’t miss the audio cues from your favorite running app.

Which brings us to number two on our list.

running sucks - app it up
Photo by Artur Łuczka on Unsplash

2. app it up!

There are many, many apps out there that are useful for tracking a run. They log where you ran, distance, how long you’d been running, and average minutes per mile. They all have something to offer, and I tried a few before settling on a few favorites.

Some apps of the best apps aren’t for tracking miles on a run. Many deliver inspirational audio through your headphones, or find ways to gamify your run. For example, the popular Zombies, Run! makes a game out of your run. RockMyRun delivers music that can change tempo to match your current pace.

There are too many running-related phone apps to list here. I’ll leave it to you to look them up. Install a few on your phone and try them for yourself. Note the differences and decide for yourself what is important to you and what isn’t.

Play with them. Before you even realize it, you’ll be having fun with your run again. Apps are toys for runners.

In case you’re wondering, RunKeeper, Strava, and RockMyRun are my go-to apps. (I have no affiliate partnership with any of them. I honestly use them and like them.) But when running sucks again I’ll try out a new app, or three. It works.

running sucks - race
Photo by Yuri Catalano on Unsplash

3. sign up for a race

Some people need a race to remain excited about running regularly. If you’ve never run a race, try at least one, even if you think they ain’t for you. Try it. You might get hooked.

I’m not a social runner at all. I run alone almost exclusively. Yet, I need a handful of races sprinkled throughout the year, or I lose momentum. I love the energy that comes from running with a bunch of other runners even if they’re complete strangers. It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve done it you understand. There is a surreal sense of comradery and exchange of energy that comes from running with runners.

Want to find upcoming races in a hurry? Go to Running in the USA and click on your state in the map. They ‘ll present you with a calendar of races in your area, complete with links to register for them. Another great resource is Facebook, especially if you live in a major city. Do a search with your city name and “running group.”

An invaluable resource is your local running store. They’re more than just a place to buy great shoes—they are a huge resource, offering everything from info about local races to running clubs. Drop in and talk to them, and / or do a search to find their website.

Don’t forget that this is about encouraging yourself; not intimidating yourself. It’s about the carrot, not the stick. No pressure. If it’s early in your running journey, sign up for a local 5K fun run. Or a one-miler, if there’s one available. Those are great places to start. The only goal is to get out there with your fellow runners and enjoy the event.

A nice thing about your first race: Whatever time you get will be your new PR.

running sucks - clothes
Photo by Black Jiracheep on Unsplash

4. clothing

  • Your local running store
  • Walmart
  • Goodwill

Who doesn’t love shopping, right? While I’d like to think of myself as a non-consumerist, I get jazzed when I bring home a new pair of running shorts, or an awesome shirt. When I buy some new swag, I’ll lay it out in my bedroom with the promise that I’m not wearing it until my next run. It works!

What’s your jam? Go shopping and discover your style. Create a running persona. Become a running superhero. Transform from Everyday version of you, into the Hell Yes, Look at Me, I’m a Runner! version of you. Have fun with it.

It’s worth mentioning that you need not go broke shopping for running attire. Let me rephrase that: You shouldn’t ever go broke from running. One of the (many, many) wonderful things about running is the lack of expense. All you “need” to buy is a single pair of good running shoes.

So, refuse to pay full price. Look for sales. Browse your local department stores between seasons, which is when they mark things down to make room for the new stuff. Stop in your local Goodwill and other secondhand clothing stores, to see if they have active wear sections. Go online and hit eBay and Amazon and other sites.

Don’t forget about your local running store. Stop in and ask about when to look for the best deals.

I hope the above ideas help. The ultimate goal is to make a mental connection between a reward and running. Transform your runs from moments of suck into moment of awesome again! 


Featured image by Roman Koester on Unsplash


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. More info here.

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