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Running is one of everyone’s favorite go-to exercises when they’re ready to jump into weight loss, and that’s usually because it involves motions and movements that are relatively simple to get used to, and doesn’t necessarily require the help of a fitness instructor. However, when you’re just starting out, running can feel difficult and sometimes even painful. Your muscles may begin to ache, your lungs could burn, and just five minutes on the treadmill can feel like five hours.
If you truly do enjoy running for exercise, but your routine feels too difficult to maintain, practice these five methods to make running an easier, more enjoyable activity.
1. Fit running into your schedule
If you don’t run on a regular basis, your body will fail to become conditioned enough to sustain your workouts. Pencil running into your weekly schedule so it becomes an obligation at least three or four times per week. Over time, your core, lower body, and leg muscles will become stronger, which will help build your endurance and make running feel that much easier. Start out slow and run short distances, and gradually build up to longer distances at a faster pace.
2. Start out slowly
When you’re just getting started, nobody will expect you to keep up with the neighbor who’s been running every day for the last 10 years, or with the marathon runner on the treadmill next to you at the gym. Start out slowly at a pace that’s comfortable for you that doesn’t result in your wheezing and gasping for breath. The more painful running feels for you, the less likely you’ll want to continue doing it. Also, keeping it slow at first will allow you to focus more on practicing proper running form, which can help reduce injuries down the road.
3. Add elements of fun
Make running a more enjoyable activity by inviting a friend or family member, or by bringing your dog. Look up nearby running trails on the Internet and try a new path each day until you find your favorite running venues. You could also listen to your favorite, upbeat songs or book on tape, or download a new fitness app to your smartphone that will make running more of a fun challenge. You might even want to splurge on new fitness gear that makes running more enjoyable for you, personally.
4. Tackle hills
Although this tip may sound difficult, tackling hills at the beginning of your workout can often make the rest of your workout feel like a breeze. Run uphill for the first few minutes of your workout to strengthen and work your leg muscles. It might be difficult to endure on the way there, but your sense of accomplishment will trump any pain you might be feeling. Then, when you get to a flat surface or begin running back downhill, running will feel far less difficult, and you might even be motivated to pick up the pace a little.
5. Take a break from running
It may sound counterproductive, but sometimes taking a break from running will make it that much more exciting when you do it again. Swap out your running routine for strength training, swimming, cycling, hiking, or your second-favorite exercise to work different muscles of your body. Then, when you’re finally ready to get back into running, you’ll find that you’ve been missing it, and will enjoy it even more.