Would running be different if we called it “playing”?

Watching my crazy dog Romeo running circles around the trees in our backyard, I wondered if we would enjoy running more if we thought of it as “playing.” As adults, we use serious words like “training” and “workout” to describe our exercise. But at the end of the day, isn’t running supposed to be fun? Shouldn’t running with people we enjoy spending time with be joyful? Do we have to make it hard to make it worthwhile?

When did we lose the joy for the simple act of running that we felt as kids?

If you work full-time, 40 hours or more of the day are devoted to your job. Subtract time for family, eating and sleeping, and that leaves you with only a few precious hours left. If we can carve out a few of those hours for running, we owe it to ourselves to enjoy the experience as much as possible. We’re adults and our lives are already stressful.

Does it make running any less effective when it’s fun? I don’t think so, especially if the fun motivates us to keep running. How can you expect to stick to any activity long-term if you don’t enjoy it?

Here are some suggestions for making your runs more fun:

Get together with your running friends for a run followed by a post-run coffee, meal or cocktail.

Run with your favorite music. Forget about what other people will think and sing out loud.

Explore a new running route. You won’t be able to stress out about the hills in advance – you’ll find them when they’re staring you in the face.

Go online to find a new running group, which is a great way to meet new running friends.

Try one of the new novelty running events like the Color Run or the Mud Run. Don’t expect a PR, but you could have a bunch of fun.

Bring a camera and take pictures along the way. You can capture amazing pictures of nature’s beauty before the rest of the world wakes up.

But the first thing you need to change is your mind-set. Instead of thinking about how worn out you are after a day at work, you can tell yourself that you’ve had a tough day but that’s over. You get to run now.

Running should be fun. And you owe it to yourself to make it fun. Life is too short and your time is too precious not to.

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