The Simple Way to Make Every Run More Enjoyable

Ever have a sub-par run and wonder what went wrong? Maybe you never set a primary intention for the run in the first place. Executing your main intent will prevent post-run disappointment and regret, inevitably making every run more enjoyable. Here are three examples of classic sub-par runs, along with the simple way to execute them better next time around.

Case 1: You Run Too Hard

You set out for a recovery run and overexert yourself—for no particular reason. You come home feeling completely destroyed and upset, after all, you intended for this run to be easy! Your training suffers for the rest of the week due to the unplanned hard effort.

The Fix

Follow your plan! If you get caught up in just getting out the door, then slow down and ask yourself pre-run, “Is this an easy, recovery day? Is this a workout? What do I want out of this run?” Knowing that you don’t want to be completely zonked after a run will prevent you from pushing too hard. Choose a technical trail that will slow you down, or leave your watch at home if you know it pushes you, or bring your GPS watch if it will force you to run at a recovery pace.

Case 2: You (Always) Compromise

Your buddy calls last minute, asking to go for a run. But, you’re already halfway out the door, psyched for a key interval workout of a training plan for a goal race. Not thinking it through, you agree to run with your friend, and the run is way easier than your planned workout. You come home annoyed and disappointed in yourself. And you feel bad for feeling bad about running with a buddy; after all isn’t that one of the greatest joys of running? But more importantly, you let your training down and worry about executing your long-term goal.

The Fix

Think through last-minute run solicitations thoroughly! Obviously, there are many reasons for being flexible and if you have the ability to rearrange your running schedule, i.e. swapping a hard and easy days in order to spend time with a friend, you should probably exercise such flexibility. But, if your schedule is truly rigid and you don’t necessarily want to run with said friend, you have to be okay politely declining. The best option may be to ask your friend if she wants to warm up with you—if she really wants your company, she’ll choose the 20-minute warm-up together over nothing. A common flipped scenario to this one is when you lack the motivation to get out the door—that’s when you call up a buddy, in advance, and schedule a run date!

Case 3: You Choose the Wrong Route

You find yourself completely exasperated on a busy sidewalk, dodging bikes and weaving through parked cars while inhaling exhaust. You’re frustrated at the chaos and at yourself for not being able to enjoy your reprieve outside. You just want to feel peace during your run.

The Fix

Choose a better route! If you want a meditative and relaxing run, choosing a busy road isn’t the best choice. Instead, choose a calming trail. Even if that means driving or riding your bike to a trailhead, making your total runtime shorter than if you ran on a nearby road, it will achieve your main intention: to have a peaceful run. If, in fact, the most important intention for your run is it to fill your time slot to the maximum, then accept this when you’re annoyed at the road chaos. Maybe you’ll realize that the 10-minute commute to the trailhead is actually worth it because the quality of the trail run may trump the quantity of minutes of a road run. It’s your run, and your opportunity to crush its execution! 

What challenges do you face when running? Share in the comments below.

About the Author

Clare Gallagher is an ultrarunner for The North Face and travels extensively for races and philanthropic work. She studied coral ecology at Princeton University where she also ran cross country and track. Clare has taught English in Thailand where she started a non-profit environmental stewardship program, she has scribed in emergency rooms across Denver, and she writes regularly for various running blogs.

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