10 Ways to Make Running Fun: How to Overcome Your Running Dread

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Finding ways to make running fun will help you push through the hard parts and transform running from a chore into a hobby. 

Do you hear your friends talk about running and feel a guilty, terrified surge of dread in your gut? 

Here’s why. 

Anytime you’ve considered weight loss, getting in shape, or following your dream to run a marathon someday, you knew it all started with running consistently. 

But no matter how many couch to 5K plans you’ve downloaded, no matter how many new running shoes you’ve bought, and no matter how many New Year’s resolutions you’ve promised, you just hate running

You know you need to run, but you can’t get into it. 

Why You Hate Running and How to Get Over It

The fact is, running is never fun when you first start. But your red, sweaty face and feeling of defeat already told you that. 

Here are the main reasons most people hate running in the beginning. 

It’s Hard to Get Motivated

If you’ve already tried running and didn’t enjoy it, that negative association will pop into your head every time you think about hitting the pavement. 

The devil on your shoulder will convince you that you’ll be miserable. 

But getting started is half the battle. 

You Feel Self-Conscious

You’re embarrassed when you have to stop for a walk break. 

Even seasoned marathon runners stop for walk breaks. The Jeff Galloway run walk method claims you can run faster and healthier when you rest. 

You’re a little heavier than you want to be and you’re afraid people might notice. 

You’re not running for other people, are you? You’re running for yourself. 

Just remind yourself why you’re doing this and visualize crossing the finish line of your first marathon. 

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You Don’t Have a Running Buddy

You can still keep your friends accountable by tracking your runs online and posting them to social media. Besides, without a running partner, you can move at your own pace and run without coordinating schedules. 

Learn to entertain yourself and enjoy the run on your own. 


Take it one step at a time. Try out new ideas and see what works. That’s why this guide suggests 10 ways to make running fun. 

Why Consistency Is the First Step to Love Running

Before you do anything else, understand the importance of consistency when it comes to running. Running is not a short-term game. You won’t reap the benefits unless you follow through. 

If you’ve started running and stopped running in the past, you never gave your body the chance to get used to it. 

You only allowed yourself the negative experiences without pushing for the positive effects of running. 

When you don’t run consistently, you never get good at it, which means you’ll never grow to love it. 

You know that running could change your life for the better. You want to taste the glory of finishing a race. You want to bask in that runner’s high. 

But if you don’t stick with it, you’ll never feel those sweet victories.

Running makes other workouts more effective. 

You always need a cardio element in your weekly routine. Even if running isn’t your main goal, it will help you succeed in other exercises like weightlifting. 

Many weightlifting trainers recommend that their clients only lift 3 days of the week, while running or cycling for the other two.  

Once you’re a runner, you can build community with other runners. 

After you get better at running, you can join other runners. Having people to run with on the weekends, and having friends to discuss running techniques are both invaluable. 

Passion is contagious. 

When you start making friends who run, you’ll pick up on their enthusiasm. And you’ll be less likely to quit halfway through. 

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10 Ways to Make Running Fun

1. Tap Into Your Inner Competitive Monster

Now’s the time to let loose. 

Don’t hold back. 

Let it all out. 

Find satisfaction in each landmark. When you hit a mile, pat yourself on the back. When you reach a 5K, applaud it. And when you run your first 10K, don’t be afraid to brag about it. 

When you celebrate every success, you can’t wait to get started on each small goal on the way to ultimate achievement. 

2. People-Watch

If you’re not a competitive person, enjoy the people around you. Bring yourself to the present moment, spectating the behaviors of families and other athletes. 

Take note of the techniques other runners are using. You might pick up a thing or two.  

3. Make a Killer Playlist

It’s easy to go on Spotify and search for “running playlists,” but don’t do that. Take the time to tailor your own playlist with music that will motivate and inspire you. 

Reach back to your early 2000’s pop-loving teenager. Jam out to guilty pleasures like Avril Lavigne or Brittany Spears. 

If that doesn’t do it for you, let a quick, steady beat guide you into running faster. Run the Jewels, Princess Nokia, and Kari Fox have given me some of my fastest running times. 

4. Listen to Audiobooks or Podcasts

Some people find music too abstract and feel more engaged with a definite storyline to follow. If you pick a captivating plot, it will motivate you to run every day so you can find out how the story ends. 

5. Do a Mud Run

If you find running boring, join a mud run, color race, or run an obstacle course. All of these are group contests that involve lots of mud, paint, and big ojects to jump over. 

You can’t escape without getting dirty and taking a selfie for your social media. These events are so exciting you’ll forget about discomfort or sore muscles and just focus on enjoying yourself. 

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6. Download and Play Zombies, Run!

For sci-fi and horror fanatics, the app, Zombies, Run! will scare you into running. 

Once you download it, start running or jogging and the app will concoct a story for you. If the zombies start chasing, you’ll have to run faster. The game has lots of elements, with supplies you need to pick up to win the game. 

Need to do some interval training? You can pick programs to match your running goals for the day. The app is a great way to take your mind off running and let the narrator be your trainer. 

7. Treat Running Like Your “Me Time”

Try shifting your focus during the run. Instead of telling yourself, “I hate this,” and, “I have to do this,” think of it as a chance to give your body the health it deserves. If you live with family or roommates, it’s an opportunity to be alone, reflect on your day, or even zone out. 

Your thoughts have no obligations during a run. They can pass through with no importance or significance. Just say, “Right now I’m running and I don’t have to worry about anything else.” 

It’s a form of meditation

8. Reward Your Achievements With New Gear

Instead of buying new sneakers or workout clothes before you get into running, wait until you’ve reached your first goal, and then reward yourself. 

This way, you’ll train your body to expect an exciting new gadget when you reach a target. This tactic removes the guilt that many feel after spending money on an un-used object. 

9. Join a Running Group

Going out for drinks can get expensive and can be unproductive. For a healthy alternative to drinking with friends, try running together. 

If your friends aren’t interested in running, you can always join a group through Meetup and build new relationships on a foundation of common interest. 

As a matter of fact, when I met my partner we went running for the first several dates. It was a low-pressure way to get to know each other while building healthy habits at the same time. 

10. Finish With a Beer

You can’t buy yourself new running gear every time you finish a workout. But stopping by a local pub and treating yourself to a beverage enforces a positive attitude toward running.

Having something to look forward to after your run diminishes that devil on your shoulder that tells you not to run. 

11. Train For a Race

Now that you’ve learned tips and techniques to get over your running dislikes, use your new ways to make running fun, and sign up for a race. 

Setting a date and reserving a spot is a powerful motivator to stick with your training plan. Start with a distance you find challenging but can still see yourself completing. After you reach that goal, sign up for another until you reach the marathon. 

Download one of our customizable training plans for all race distances. Choose the one that motivates you the best and then implement your new-found running hacks. 

12. Join Our 7 Day Running Motivation Challenge

We’ve created a 7 Day Running Mindset and Motivation Challenge designed by expert running coaches to light a fire under your running motivation!

7 Day Motivation

Check out the introduction video here and commit to creating good habits for the next 7 days!

Photo of author
Mia Kercher is a hiker, cyclist, and runner. After finishing her first marathon in 2013, she continued the sport but found a new passion in trail running. She now explores the glorious mountains in Portland, Oregon.

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