Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Here’s the ugly truth—running doesn’t get easier.
There are days when you will come up with every single excuse in the book to skip a run. There will be dreaded days when your legs hardly feel like they are lifting off the ground.
But there is hope! There will be days when you lace up, hit the ground running and feel like you’re flying. Your legs will seem numb—in a good way—and you feel on top of the world, as if running isn’t hard. That is the moment when running feels excellent.
Everyone was a newbie at one point in their running career. Each runner will tell you to keep at it and it will get easier. You can try every trick to drop your running pace and increase mileage to get to the point when running feels “easier.”
While running may seem to get more effortless, your legs and core have actually gotten stronger. Your mind is finally clear, calm and collected.
So what are some tricks you can do to help you keep your mind focused while you work on your running strength? Here are a few tips that have helped runners of all skill levels feel like a confident, strong runner—even on their worst, no-so-easy run days.
Morning, Afternoon Or Evening?
You’ll hear numerous discussions on the best time to run. But if you’re not a morning person, then it will feel extremely hard to run in the a.m. If you rather run at night or during your lunch break, then go for it. Keep track when you have the most energy and use that time frame for your runs. The running police will not come after you if don’t run first thing in the morning. Just make sure you put your run on the schedule and stick to it.
Break Up The Mileage
If you’re training for a long-distance race and don’t have time to run for an hour or two, break it up. Run for a few in the morning and a few at night. The time or distance excuse doesn’t creep up in your head, making you continuously think about how rushed you are—which will make running hard. Clear your mind and log a few miles at a time. Save a long run for the weekend or when you have more flexibility.
Baby Steps: Increase Slowly
If you’re completely new to running, then start off slow and gradually add time or distance to your routine. If you’ve been running for a bit now and want to step it up, gradually increase your mileage. Experts are big fans of this approach for two reasons: 1) To avoid burn out, 2) To prevent injuries. If you start off running four or five miles and hate every minute of it, the likelihood of lacing up again is slim. If you run one mile at a time, it’s less daunting and more enjoyable. This approach will also help your legs get used to running for long periods of time, strengthening them for endurance.
This 8-week training program can help you tack on more miles as you train for your next race.
Keep Your Eye On The Prize
What’s your reason to run? Is it to lose weight, indulge in carbs, run a marathon or let go of stress? “I don’t like running. It never gets easy,” expresses Abigail Sheridan, who’s been running for three years now. “But, I still do it so I can eat foods I enjoy—and candy!”
Whatever your reason, keep it in the back of your head. When you’re at a tough spot during your run, remind yourself why you set out that day. Get your head to focus on the prize, not how many miles or how long you’re running.
Put On Some Tunes
Let music push you through the toughest runs. Listening to music can help with picking up the pace and letting go of negative thoughts. It’s a great distraction for the mind while your body goes to the beat of the music. Need a few song suggestions? Check out this epic playlist that will keep you going from your first mile to your last.
Go Mile By Mile
Keep running simple. Run mile by mile, not by how much more you have to run. If you have three miles to run today, run one mile and say, “There’s one, now I’ll tackle the next.” It prevents getting overwhelmed and helps to keep your mind focused.
Strengthen Your Legs And Core
The stronger your legs and core, the easier they will work. Get used to running, but also engage in a strength-training program to work the smaller muscles that don’t get used during a run. This will help your stride and pace, making you a strong runner—and help you feel light on your feet. Give this TRX workout a try to help you gain core and leg strength.