6 Beginner Tips to Start Running When You Hate Running

Running is not fun — at least not at first, but it is possible to slowly start enjoying it. Trust me.

Angela Phan
Mar 3 · 7 min read
An individual running with headphones in
An individual running with headphones in
Photo from Canva Pro

One year ago, I could not run for longer than a minute without feeling out of breath. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always hated running.

I was the kid during track and field season who would refuse to run during the 400 m and 800 m runs — much to the frustration of my teachers who knew I could run but chose not to. In high school, I would do the bare minimum for running activities in order to get a “B” grade.

Running never appealed to me. I found it boring, monotonous, and difficult to do. Why run when I could literally spend my time doing anything else?

Last February, I was starting to get bored with my workout routine, especially regarding cardio, and thought “you know what, I’ll give running a try again.” My friends were quite skeptical since I was very vocal about my hatred for it.

One year later, I am now happily anticipating the warmer weather so I can begin running outside again — something I would have never said one year ago. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way, that might help another self-proclaimed running hater.

Figure Out Why You Hate Running

In order to approach a problem, you need to fully understand what the problem is. In this case, you need to understand why you hate to run. Some of the reasons I hated running was because:

  • I was not good at it
  • Felt embarrassed to run in places where people could see me
  • Felt too insecure to run, especially seeing social media posts of my friends being able to run 10km in one go

In order to find a solution, you need to be honest with yourself as to why running is something you hate doing. It took me a long time to figure out why I personally hated it but once I did, it allowed me to shift my goals and thinking around the prospect of running.

Figure Out Why You Want to Start Running

It’s important to know why you hate running but it is equally as important to figure out why you want to start running. In order to achieve any goal, you need to have a strong and sustainable motivator so you can meet it.

What is a strong and sustainable reason to start running? Well, that’s something only you can figure out for yourself. If the health benefits of running are not currently getting you out there — they weren't for me, you probably need another motivator to do so.

My reason to start running was that I wanted to become a better hiker. Hiking and being out in nature is one of my favourite hobbies, as I’m lucky enough to live in a location that has an abundance of hiking trails. I wanted to find an activity that would help me improve my hiking endurance even during the off-season. I figured running could help me do that.

Find your reason and let that be the motivation you need to slowly start your running journey.

Slow and Steady Really Does Win the Race

Last year, when I committed to running more, I strapped on my old Nike’s I’ve had since I was 15, put on a random playlist, stepped outside my door, and started running.

And stopped after not even a minute of running.

I took a small break and tried to start run again, just for the same thing to happen. I would run for 45 seconds and would immediately need to take a break because I was short of breath. After 10 minutes of repeating that over and over again, I went back home, disappointed that I couldn’t run for longer.

What did I do wrong? I tried to go too fast, too hard. I, for some strange reason, expected that I could run a kilometer in 4 minutes, right off the bat, and sustain that, like my track and field friends who have trained their whole lives to be runners. I set myself up to a ridiculous standard, that I was not going to achieve.

Start yourself off with realistic goals. After that disaster of a first-run, I became more realistic with my running goals. I would begin by running for 30 seconds, fast walking for 30, walk for 1 minute and repeat until I reached 10 minutes. I gradually increased my running time and eliminated breaks when I was able to.

Like any other physical activity, there’s a fine line between pushing yourself and forcing yourself, but starting off slow and steady will allow you to work your way towards your running goals — whatever they may be.

Look Your Best to Feel Your Best

As mentioned in my previous point, I started running with old Nike’s I’ve had since I was 15. It took me a few months to switch over to proper running shoes and it was one of my best decisions during my running journey. It was a great investment because I now have shoes that properly cushion my feet when they hit the pavement, allows them to breathe, as well as provide the much-needed support for my small wide feet.

Additionally, a cute workout outfit allows me to feel ready to tackle any workout and that was no different with running. However, especially since I hated running, the most important factor regarding my gear was making sure I was comfortable in what I was wearing.

If I am going to the gym, I can essentially workout with my keys tucked in my waistband or sports bra and hair out of my face in whatever possible way, however, running is a whole different ballpark for me. In order for me to feel comfortable running, my keys need to be tucked away in a non-distracting way, phone tightly secure, a tight ponytail, and I need to be wearing a breathable T-shirt.

Having the right gear and outfit can make the difference between a meh run to a good run.

Choosing the Right Music, Podcasts, and Audiobooks For Your Run

This was a huge factor in shifting my mindset. Being able to choose the right audio aid is crucial in enjoying your run. Personally, I always choose music that is upbeat, fast-paced, and energetic. This is what motivates me to run.

Others enjoy different genres of music, podcasts, and audiobooks. No matter what your audio choice is, I think one tip I received was to make sure that whatever playlist, podcast, or audiobook you are choosing, can only be listened to during a run. This was a game-changer for me.

Want to listen to a specific playlist, podcast episode, or chapter in a book? Well, you have to hop on a treadmill or head outside for a run in order to do so.

Don’t Take it Too Seriously

If anything, this is the main takeaway I want other novice runners to remember. When I first began running, I was always recording my time and distance, to the point where I was becoming obsessed with my progress. However, like everything else in life, progress is never linear and often looks more like a roller coaster. I often got disappointed when I was running a kilometre in 7 minutes instead of 6 minutes and 30 seconds, the day before.

In hindsight, as helpful as apps such as Nike Run Club, Map my Run, and C25K are, I learned that in order for me to enjoy the running process, I needed to make sure I was not recording at least 1 of my runs per week.

For example, if I plan to run 3 times a week, I will record 2/3 of my runs and leave 1 of them unrecorded so I can run freely without thinking about my time and distance. I find this helps me focus on the act of running rather than the results.

It’s important to remember that your running regime doesn’t have to be rigidly results-oriented. At the end of the day, you should unplug, enjoy being in the moment and listen to what your body needs. The results will come eventually, it just takes time.

Funnily enough, I am not a good runner by any means. For example, I went on my first run of the year last week and was only able to run for 2.5 km. Considering how long it has been since I’ve gone on a run, 4 months to be exact, and looking back on how I ran for 45 seconds the first time I ran last year, I think it’s definitely an improvement.

I can’t promise you that you’ll enjoy going on runs in the first week, month, or even year. What I can say is that if you are patient with yourself, focus on the journey and not the results, as well as be kind to your body, well-being, and mindset, eventually running won’t seem so daunting.

You might actually surprise yourself and start liking it — as I did.

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Angela Phan

Written by

Intersectional environmentalist 🌱✊🏼. Research Assistant. (She/her). Writing about climate change, love, health & fitness, personal development, etc...

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