Everybody enjoys running after they've finished running. The endorphins, the runner's high, the feeling of accomplishment, they're great, right? Plus, you can grab a slice of pizza afterward and not feel so guilty about it. But, chances are, you have a slightly different opinion of the whole matter in the midst of it all. Luckily, we've got some ways to make the worst part of your run, the running bit, more pleasant. Heck, maybe you'll find yourself grinning rather than grunting through the pain next time you're out there struggling. Probably not, though.
1. Try a Trail
Running circles around a track or atop unforgiving, steaming-hot roads is a great way to ensure you'll be miserable. The key to running (and life?) is to focus on the present moment. The next breath. The next step. Not the daunting thought of seven more laps or 2.5 more miles. Trails can help. With uneven footing, obstacles, twists, turns, and ascents and descents, no two steps, laps, or miles are the same.
The tricky footing means your focus is completely absorbed in the moment, and without a long road to look down or a track to count your laps, you won't be able to psych yourself out as easily. Websites like Serious Running and Trails.com are good sources to search for a local trail, and almost all local parks have some sort of running trail.
2. Sprint Past the Pack
Nothing gets you down during a run as much as when speed demon Donny overtakes you on the right and dust gets in your contacts. On the other hand, the taste of sweet revenge you get when you fly by old Donny doing wind sprints feels pretty good, too. So does increasing lung capacity, aiding cardiovascular health, boosting metabolism, and burning fat. Sprint at your top speed for 45 seconds, recover for 15 seconds, and repeat; that's the routine. High-intensity interval training (HIIT); that's the buzzword. It sounds difficult, and it can be, but it isn't dangerous. Science says so, at least.
3. On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
Most running apps track things like the time, distance, course, number of calories burned, and the weather conditions when you go for a run. Interesting, but not very novel. But some, like the Nike+Run App, take it a bit further, letting you compete against friends. It's simple to add your friends, and if you're struggling for motivation, it can be the extra fuel you need to get out there. Put a beer on it. Next round is on you, Donny.
4. Soak Up the Scenery
Running at a slow pace burns less calories per minute than running faster. That's obvious. But if the choice is between a two-mile sprint at an eight-minute-mile pace or a 30-minute run at a 12-minute-mile pace, you're going to be burning more calories, and more fat, going slow rather than fast. It's harder to keep up a fast pace than a slow pace, so naturally (if you've got the time), you're going to run longer and farther at a slower pace because you won't get tired as fast. For every mile you run, you burn about 100 calories, and for each minute quicker you run the mile, you burn about an extra 10 calories.
It can add up if the pace difference is huge, but most people can run farther when they slow down, and burn more calories over the course of a week, than they can run super fast for miles on end. Plus, by taking in your surroundings, you get to enjoy your run a bit more than if you're staring at the pavement, grunting, cursing, and counting down the seconds until you're done.