Slowly, inexplicably, something has changed and your relationship with running appears to have soured. Dragging on your shoes has as much appeal as cleaning your teeth – and is about as much fun. Relax: it happens to all of us, and is almost always temporary. Follow our Top Tips to rediscover the love…
Change it Up – or Down
- Distance. Are you a long-distance runner? Try some shorter, sharper stuff – enrol for a 5km race or try Parkrun: free, timed runs held at parks around New Zealand every Saturday morning. If short is your game, give yourself permission to slow the pace and step up a distance – try an XTERRA mid or long course (www.trailrun.co.nz).
- Terrain. Swap road shoes for trail shoes, or vice versa: there are skills to be gained from both disciplines, and sometimes pushing out of your comfort zone can deliver a much-needed shot of adrenaline in itself. A world of different friendships will open up – though don’t be surprised to see some of your mates have a shoe in each camp.
- Locality. Sometimes we continually hit the same old streets and trails for no reason other than it requires little effort to plan. Running in an unfamiliar environment heightens a number of senses as our brains go about busily creating a mental map of the area. Head out from your house with the intention of deliberately getting lost: drive to a local forest and explore the trails, or run in a neighbouring town with a friend.
- Simply running with a friend can transform a run from a monotonous chore to a fun social engagement. Double-task by inviting a friend you haven’t seen in a while for a coffee/run date. This can also be a great way to connect with children – younger ones can accompany you on their bikes or scooters, and boys (and men!) in particular find it easier to converse with an adult they are physically engaged with.
- Never underestimate the satisfaction of introducing someone to the joy of sport. Offer to join a friend or family member who is new to running, or organise a group of work colleagues to start their fitness journey. The respect you get as the resident expert may remind you of all the things you love about running.
- Joining a running club or coaching group can provide just the right mix of competition, socialising and motivation to bring back the love.
- Grab a few mates and enter an event (such as the Wild Kiwi multisport event www.thewildkiwi.co.nz): along with superb camaraderie, this can also be a great opportunity to try a different discipline.
- Offer to support a friend who is doing an event. I guaranteed you will be consumed with FOMO (fear of missing out) and be itching to get back in your shoes before your friend crosses the finish line.
Plan an adventure
- Block out an empty weekend in the calendar, jump onto the Department of Conservation website and book a hut for an overnight fastpack. Don’t rush this – a large part of the adventure is in the planning and preparation, carefully balancing going light against staying safe. Always check the weather frequently in the days leading up to departure.
- Scour the international running calendar and book an overseas holiday with your partner or family that includes a short race for yourself.
- Putting your name to a charity adds a whole new dimension to a run in terms of purpose and commitment. Choose carefully – the point is that you have belief in the relationship between you and the charity, and that your intentions are manageable. You don’t need to commit to raising enormous amounts of money; many charities are equally desperate for awareness as they are for funding.
Take a Break
Still struggling? Maybe it’s time to take a break from running altogether.
- Pick up a hobby you have never had time for; set your sights on creating the garden of your dreams; spend time with family and friends who have been neglected during the running season.
- Try a different discipline: if you are a runner, for example, dust off the mountain bike and head down to ride the famous 42nd Traverse (www.t42.co.nz)… after all, it does have the best after-party in New Zealand.