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How to run for fun

Cynthia is a mom of three little kids living in the DC area, who is also a runner and a triathlete. With a challenging but rewarding job in performing arts management, her work hours are often long and involve weekends, evenings, and tra...

Embrace these five ways to find the childlike joy and fun in running.

I didn’t always run for fun. I started running about 11 years ago during my quest to get more active and lose weight. But somewhere along the way, I fell in love. Don’t get me wrong, it took some time.

I think back to high school softball practices where we moaned and whined about running the bases or jogging around the perimeter of the field. I think back to all the jokes that I’ve made in my life about running; "not unless someone is chasing me!" is the prime example, and I smile.

These days, running is a way to stay happy and healthy as a busy working mom of three. But still, it took a while for it to be considered "fun." I described the things that I "Run For" on my blog recently, and "fun" still isn't listed. It still doesn’t come to mind as "fun," despite the enjoyment that I get from running.

Last weekend, my daughter accompanied me to Dick’s Sporting Goods to try on and purchase a new pair of running shoes.

She’s 8 years old and very easy to have around during errands, generally helpful and supportive. But then we had an idea: She should also try on running shoes. She could become a runner too.

She has expressed an interest in doing a kids’ run, or running alongside me during shorter training runs, but she’s never had real running shoes.

So as we laced up each other’s shoes, I asked her "what will you run for? What will be your reason?" And she said "I want to run for fun!"

I thought about the childlike enthusiasm and how, as adults, we often lose the joy in our activities. We are mission-driven, we "get it done," we check it off the list of things we need to do each day.

So I thought about what could make an adult run for fun rather than fitness, weight loss, self-competition with previous race results or any other less-than-fun reasons, and decided that this spring I will embrace these five ways to find the childlike joy and fun in running.

Ditch the watch

Once a week, I will try to run without a watch and without my eye on the clock. I’ll run by feel and just be in tune with my body.

Look around

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the mission to run X number of miles or to get X minutes of exercise that we forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses, to look around at nature, the other people enjoying the outdoors or just at the horizon.

Run with others

Making a social event out of your run can turn it into a time of conversation, laughter and bonding.

Carry a happy list

A happy list? Yes, a happy list. Write a happy thought on a piece of paper for every five minutes you will be running, and check the list as you go. If you’re running a longer distance you can make it one happy thought for every mile.

Fake it till you make it

Have you ever noticed how serious people look when they are running? Try smiling, plaster a huge grin on your face from ear to ear; it’s contagious.

If these five tips don’t help you reclaim the childlike joy of running, then create your own fun and discover the joy of a great run.

What do you run for? How do you find joy in running?

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