Running: should I just give it up?

It’s spring again, and like every spring for the past few years, I start running. I’ve gone for one run this year, and it’s just as miserable as it always is. Yes, it’s the first one of the year, and I’m not in shape for it, and I know it’ll get easier… but for the first time, I’m asking myself “Should I just give it up?”

I hate running. I hate the pounding. I hate breathing hard. I just hate the overall feel of it! And, for the first time, I can honestly say it’s not just because I’m out of shape or overweight - I’ve stayed in shape throughout the winter. I keep waiting for running to become FUN, like biking or kayaking or hiking, and it never does, no matter how much I do it. It’s always something I force myself to do because it’s a quick workout I can do on the days I don’t have time for a bike ride or whatever.

One of the reasons I’m contemplating just giving it up is because I took up cross country skiing this winter - another sport that’s fairly intensive - and within a couple times going out, it got FUN! I had no problem pushing myself to do 90 minutes or more skiing, but running? Screw that. At the end of last summer, after running 2-4 times a week for an average of 40 or 45 minutes each time, the idea of going longer STILL was miserable. Going up a hill? Hell no. I could put on my headphones and do my 4 miles on flat ground and get through it. Occasionally I did 5 or 6 miles, but I hated those extra 15 or 20 minutes. So I’m asking myself, when I’m obviously in decent shape, why do I keep doing it when I just can’t seem to make it fun?

So I keep waiting for running to become something other than torture, and it’s just not happening. I’ve given it a good go - going for 4-5 miles with regularity for the past two summers, and on and off for the past, oh, ten years. Is it time to just give it up and say “I’m not a runner” and concentrate on bicycling and kayaking and hiking and all those other good summer activities?

And a question for the people who ARE runners - how long did it take before it became fun for you?

I was hooked by the end of my first run. Which, by the way, barely counted as running, because it was more walking breaks than running, and I felt like someone had run me over with a steamroller afterward. And I have had bad runs that were no fun at all, but in general, when I’m out there, I’m having fun, in a masochistic, pain-inducing sort of way.

If you’ve been doing it for that long and you still hate it, I think it’s OK to give it up and try to find something you do like. Obviously cross-country skiing is probably out in the middle of summer, but maybe there’s some other activity that you’ll find and love. If I hated running every time I went out, I would definitely not still be doing it.

I’m like you. I can’t stand running. It’s always been torture. By the time I’ve gone for a few weeks and gotten past the stitches in my side then my knees start giving me fits. It never gets better. I’ve never been able to go further than 2 miles.
However I can bike, mountain bike, rollerblade, swim, Xcountry ski, etc. for hours on end.

Running is not for everyone, it’s time to try other activities. Cycling shouldn’t take much longer than running. Running or cycling is all the same to the cardiovascular system. Cycling only feel easier since there’s no impact forces to deal with. 30 min. running or cycling at the same perceived effort=same workout.

I would second Hampshire’s suggestion of rollerblading, fits well with XC ski.

For my whole enlistment, I ran 3 times a week. It was ALWAYS miserable. It’s like the pain brings time to standstill. You get tortured for 10 minutes and you’ve only made it to the end of the road!

That’s why I took up biking. You can rest, yet still move along. The wind keeps you cooler than running (I HATE that cloud of body heat) and you get to see more scenery than on foot. It doesn’t stress my feet or knees like running does, either. And it’s just as good at cardio and leg muscle as running.

So yeah, forget running. It will never be fun. Get the bike out. It’s worth it.

There’s plenty of things I love in the summer - biking is probably the biggest one. The reason I keep running is that it’s hard to beat the workout versus time aspect. I feel like I get a good workout in 30 minutes of running. 30 minutes of biking? Not so much. Maybe if I could find 30 minutes of uphill, but the terrain around here isn’t like that.

I’m with ya. Even when I was in great shape, I despised running. I did it to keep fit for other things, but I hated it. My husband, on the other hand, fell in love with running almost immediately and now does marathons regularly.

Find another activity you enjoy.

I vote for “Don’t Give it Up”. However, if you’re really hating it this much - then look for stuff you can change in your routine. For example - can you run at a different time of day? If you run late in the afternoon, you might try the morning instead. Or - do you run with headphones? If so - maybe try different music. For me - I recently switched to listening to podcasts when I run - especially long runs. This gives me something to pay attention to - more than just how bad I want to slow down or walk or whatever. Another idea is to sign up for some races. I find that these are great motivators - both because it gives me something to train for, and because seeing all those other runners is huge motivation for me. Also - do you run outside or on a treadmill? Whatever it is - maybe try switching it up. I do lots of runs on a treadmill watching sportscenter. But I also love long runs through the woods.

In short - try changing up some things with your routine and see if that helps. Running shouldn’t be a miserable slog. I often find that subtle changes to my routine can make a big difference in my motivation and enjoyment.

You think? I’m having trouble believing that, simply because it’s hard to get the same effort with biking. There’s always a hill to go down.

And just to clarify to everyone - I DO bike, it’s by far my most practiced activity in the summer. It’s just that a lot of days, I don’t have the time to bike - my short loops are 60-90 minutes long.

Maybe I need to find shorter short loops. Hmm, that’s a thought. I have about a gazillion miles of some of the best mountain biking right outside my door, I oughta be able to find something. And there’s always the road bike…

Get yourself a heart rate monitor, you’ll be surprised how hard you’re working on the bike.
It’s flat where I live and I had no trouble going deeply anaerobic on the bike.

I’ve changed up my routines quite a bit over the past few years to try to make them more fun. Nothing has really worked.

I run outside, for what it’s worth - I don’t own a treadmill or keep up a gym membership (I do have an indoor spin bike for bad weather days.)

As far as headphones go, that’s one of the reasons I’m thinking of giving up running. I realized the other day that out of all the activities I do, the only one that I absolutely need a distraction to force myself into doing it is running. It’s never once occurred to me to use my iPod while skiing or biking or anything else - just running - and I refuse to go for a run without it. Why am I doing something that I hate so much that I can’t do it without being distracted?!?

When I hit my mid-30s, I started cross training on the bike as I was not recovering from the running workouts as well as I used to. My main riding was commuting to work, 3xweek-45 min. each way done at similar heart rates as my running. I saw an improvement in fitness as I got a good workout on the bike and my legs were fresher for running.

I’ve run on and off for decades, but this year (accompanied by a significant weight loss and emphasis on getting in shape) things have just clicked. I’ve started looking forward to my runs, and picking a goal (a half marathon in June) has focused my drive.

However, if you’re not enjoying it, find something new. I also bike, hike, ski, and lift weights these days, so I’m getting lots of cross training.

I agree that runing provides by far more bang for the buck than biking. And nothing is easier to do wherever you are with little equipment. But if you hate it, then by all means find something you enjoy doing (or at least hate a bit less).

It isn’t the same as running, but you can get some benefit from a brisk walk, with far less pounding. Or maybe try to develop a 30-minute routine of cals - push-ups, sit-ups and lunges - that can be your short alt workout.

After knee and foot surgeries over the past couple of years, I no longer run. And I really miss it. But at my age (49) I’ve realized that I’m not training for any huge competition anymore, and my main goal is to simply get the carcass moving on a regular basis one way or another. So I’m not getting the intensity of workout as when I was training for a marathon, but whether I’m walking the dogs or stretching in front of the TV, I’m doing something - so I’m not going to beat myself up because I’m not doing more.

If I were you, I’d just give it up and do what you enjoy. I used to run marathons and I’ve cut back to walking only. I keep planning to get back into running - it’s not physically that hard for me - but because of where I am in life, walking works better because I enjoy it more and truly look forward to my nightly walk in a way I just can’t when contemplating a nightly run. Walking for me is the only me time I get. It’s the only time I get to be truly alone and relaxed. Even if I’m walking fast, I feel like I get to enjoy the scenery more than if I’m running and I don’t feel like I’m forcing myself to do something I’d rather not be doing.

You’ve given running a chance, but it sounds like it’s just not your thing. So, definitely - if there’s something you enjoy more, do that.

This was going to be one of my suggestions. Check into some running events in your area to train for and work on increasing your speed a little. Having a goal might help.

I’d also suggest finding a running partner so you can chat a little as you run, or join a running club.

I sorta hate it too. Oddly, now that I have a dog and take her for runs with me, I don’t hate it as much.

I’ve been running for 12 years now. When I first started, I absolutely hated it, but I did it because I’d lifted weights in high school, and saw no need to be bulky anymore. Running seemed like the best way to change my body shape.

I’d been running about 3x per week for the first year, for only 30 minutes or so per run, and it always seemed just a means to an end. Around that time, I don’t recall if it was something I read or saw on tv or what, but it occurred to me that a simple mindset change was all I needed. I remembered how fun it was to just run (sprint) a short distance as a kid, whether it was a race to the car or the house, or running to a friend’s house.

The point is that I stopped thinking about it as a chore to be dreaded, and once I got running, I simply thought about the lightness you feel during a good run. There are still lots of runs that feel horrible, and the majority don’t feel like anything (though no matter the quality of the run, I almost always feel great afterward). So, I can only suggest you give it a bit longer with just thinking of it as (an odd bit of) fun, and see if that helps. If not, then there’s nothing wrong with doing something else.

I’ve been running seriously for a few years now. I typically hate the first mile or so of every run, it just takes me a few minutes to get warmed up and into my groove, then I’m fine.

If you’ve been doing it for a while and don’t like it, do something else. There’s no need to beat yourself up over it and it sounds like you’ve got plenty of other activities you enjoy. I’d definitely recommend going for a brisk walk every day or taking a nice hike now and then but that’s just to get out, enjoy nature and clear your head.

Are there any things you can do to make it fun? I do a lot of walks during my spare time at work or over lunchbreaks, and I was getting really bored with it, until I changed up my music and started using a phone app that tracked my speed and put my route on a map. Now I look forward to being able to get away from my desk and walk around my (huge) building. My sister uses the same program for running and she loves it – Cardio Trainer for Android phones. It’ll even talk to you and tell you your speed and distance, if you want it to – it’s clever enough to turn down your music temporarily and then crank it back up to where it was. Fun!

That said, I despise running. I go to workout classes - I like this way better. The peer pressure also makes me perform better than if I’m on my own.