Six Ways to Make Training for a 10k (or 5k or Half Marathon) Easier

Some people get a runner's high, I think I get a runner's low.
Some people get a runner’s high, I think I get a runner’s low.

Five runs into my trail run training session and it’s official:

I still don’t like running.

To get you up to speed: About six weeks ago, I signed up for my first 10k, which also happens to also be my first trail run. Anyone who has ever talked exercise with me knows that I loathe running. It’s just not my thing. Even during stints where I ran regularly, I don’t think I’ve ever run anything faster than an 11 minute mile.

Now that I’m drinking the CrossFit Kool-aid, I don’t even understand why you’d ever go running. It’s so boring, and apologies to you runners out there, but the only “results” I’ve seen after committing to running is that I’m a little better at running and have joint pain. Months of CrossFit, on the other hand, has lead to me finally being able to do a pull-up, a crap load of push-ups and has also made me a better runner. Go figure.

Anyhow, the beyonce and I are training together. Since he’s done a bazillion races, I let him create our training plan. We’re both going to CrossFit a few times a week, so he thought one run a week would suffice. I was happy to hear that because, hey, remember how I hate running? Like I said, we’ve got five training runs under our belt, the longest being a six-miler in beautiful Theo Wirth Park. I mean, it sucked, but it was beautiful. See? I am trying to be optimistic! And on that note, here are the five ways I make running more enjoyable.

1. This American Life.

For a few bucks, you can get the This American Life app which grants you access to their entire library. Hundreds of hour-long radio shows that will make you laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously. In fact, last week I listened to the “Death and Taxes” episode and had tears streaming down my face. A shout out to Freakonomics, the Moth Radio Hour, Radiolab and Stuff Mom Never Told You. You take the pain away!

2. Go on a Quest.

I probably should’ve put this one first, because it’s my best running tip. I like efficiency, and so I’ll use my run as a means to check something out. For example, when I was looking for a house, I’d plan my runs around houses I’d been eying online. It was a great tactic– visiting a place on foot gives you a much different feel than driving there. Other ideas? Run to a new restaurant and check out their menu, make a deposit at an ATM (I have a small running pouch aka fannypack that makes this easy) or try to spy on an ex. No, actually don’t do that last one.

Patsy, trying to give me CPR.
Patsy, trying to give me CPR.

3. GPS Watch.

I’m not a gadget person, but the beyonce has one and it’s awesome. Now I don’t have to plot out my routes prior to puttin’ on my running shoes, and it tells me my pace. My very s-l-o-w pace. I think you can probably upload your runs to the internet and have some app track your progress. That’s a bit too much technology for me, but maybe you’re into that.

4. Leave the Dog at Home.

I love my dog, but she is the worst on a run. The beyonce can deal with her (or maybe he just runs fast enough that she doesn’t jump all over him). As much as leaving her at home bums me out, it’s torturous enough just running in general. So maybe you don’t have a dog, or your dog runs like an angel, or maybe you have a very athletic cat who makes your runs endlessly entertaining… my point is, if there is anything that makes your run less enjoyable, skip it.

5. Breaks are Okay.

I always see these nimbly-bimbly runners hauling ass around the lakes. Meanwhile, I am slogging through my first mile, repeating “don’t-quit-don’t-quit-don’t-quit.” Seeing these speed demons always made me feel crappy… until one day, it occurred to me that I’m almost exclusively seeing people for 15 seconds or less. Who knows, they could be sprinting until they just passed me, then collapse in a heap of exhaustion. I’ve decided that sometimes it’s okay to take a 30 second break or a minute or whatever you need. Some people even implement breaks as a training strategy. I like those people.

How could you possibly prefer a treadmill to this?
How could you possibly prefer a treadmill to this?

6. Make Runs Pretty!

Last week, we did six miles in Theodore Wirth. It’s a beautiful park right in the heart of Minneapolis. Tons of trails, a few waterfalls, hills (ugh to the ups, yay to the downs), a weird bog… being in the beautiful great outdoors took my brain away from the pain. Plus, we saw nine deer! In the city! Although, maybe we saw the same three deer in three different places. At any rate, it was the best.

* * *

What makes running more enjoyable for you? Please elaborate in the comments. I need all the help I can get!

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Comments (11)

  • the beyonce 3 years ago Reply

    Running with you makes MY runs better! But seriously, running buddies make all the difference in the world. Even if you are just running next to someone and listening to different podcasts…

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Even if the person running next to you runs 11 minute miles when you run 8 minute miles… ?

  • Molly 3 years ago Reply

    More things I do to make running more fun (and I love running):
    1. I make playlists of all the upbeat songs I’m loving at the moment.
    2. I buy super-duper bright running outfits and mis-match the colors for tops and bottoms.
    3. Every once in a while, to shake things up, I run like Phoebe from the show "Friends".
    4. I paint my nails with a bright color and then include and even bright accent nail.
    5. I plan a delicious post-run snack to look forward to.
    6. I wear dark sunglasses, so I can "people watch".

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    I like #6, and definitely do that in all aspects of my life. 🙂

  • Josh from Joshland 3 years ago Reply

    When I was running (before I hurt myself by pushing myself way too hard and trying to soothe my already incredibly fragile male ego), I would find a few different places to run around the cities and landmark pivotal points along each run telling me where I was and how far I had to go. That way I broke my run up into segments. Example…I’ll be running around my neighborhood, look to my left and say to myself (sometimes outloud) "Oh look! There the the neighbor with the shitty car in her driveway. That means I only have a quarter mile to go to the next marker!" or "Oh rapture! It’s the house with the killer dog that’s the size of a polar bear. It’s the sprinting part of my run! Only a half mile to go."

    The other thing I do, as you mentioned, is create a playlist of songs, but do it a little differently. I structure the playlist to elicit an emotional response. Mostly movie scores and TV themes. You start with Rocky theme to get you in the mood to punch meat and/or run with a sweatsuit on while children are chasing you, then transition into The Pirates of the Caribbean score…because piratey music is fun. You get the idea. I always end with with either the Ultimate Warrior’s theme song or the William Tell Overture. Both very different kinds of music that get your ass moving.

    Best of luck to you and the Beyonce!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    I love looking for landmarks! That’s a good one, Josh.

  • molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    My friend Melissa tried to post this, but apparently my comments section wasn’t working for her (people… please let me know if you are having issues posting. Comments are my fave!). I loved her suggestions, especially the Zombies, Run! Suggestion. Downloading as I type this! From Mel:

    I agree with you: picking a pretty place to run and taking walking breaks are key!

    "Seeing these speed demons always made me feel crappy… until one day, it occurred to me that I’m almost exclusively seeing people for 15 seconds or less. "

    EXACTLY! When I realized that about the people running on the trail in Austin, I felt ever so much better!

    I like to make up a story about why I’m training — I’m a spy so I have to be able to run over rooftops… I’m a freedom fighter so I have to be able to outrun the Nazis… stuff like that. I make myself the star of my own movie. I can only hope the other spy can only run a 12- or 13-minute mile so s/he is far, far behind me 😉

    Also: the Zombies, Run! app is amazing. Kickass story, excellent audio production, built-in zombie attacks for a few intervals during the run… I love it!

    Also: the song "I Was Made For Dancing" by Leif Garrett. It’s hilarious and has the perfect disco beat for running.

  • Melissa McMeekin 3 years ago Reply

    This American Life Podcast is the BEST. Loved "Death and Taxes"….but, I can only listen to music while I run. My pounding heart and ragged breathing distract me from really listening, so music works just fine. I REALLY want to do crossfit, but can’t convince my husband that it’s a good investment. Yet….

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    It took me 4 years to try CrossFit and I’m not sure I will ever stop! You should just try it for one month (like twice a week) and you’ll see what I’m talking about. So little time working out AND big results.

    The podcast thing can take me to a far away land where I forget the pain in my legs/lungs/arms/feet/knees. But I do love some music too, specifically Paula Abdul radio on PAndora…. or Metallica/Rob Zombie. I am weird like that.

  • Caran Mollner 2 years ago Reply

    I don’t run….but I do walk and find that I would be lost without my Iphone and Audible – audio books make the time fly! Also a few podcasts such as An American Life, or Go Fork Yourself give a little variety and make look forward to my walks!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Other good ones: Serial; Death, Sex & Money; Stuff You Missed in History Class; Radiolab. It makes the time fly!

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