Running = Fun ?

I run for a lot of reasons –  because it feels good to sweat after a long day in cubicle-land, because it’s a cheap way to socialize, and yes – because it’s usually enjoyable. But it’s certainly not all fun, all of the time. I was having a conversation the other day with someone who runs every once in awhile and she expressed envy over the fact that I thought running was “fun”. “It’s just so boring,” she remarked. “I can’t make myself go farther than a mile or two!” This got me thinking about how I usually feel when I’m headed out for a run or in the midst of pounding the pavement. Do I really enjoy it more than other people? Is it something you can teach yourself to enjoy?

Running certainly gets easier over time (just ask my 15 year old self who could barely run one lap of the high school track…), but very rarely does it come without a struggle. Is getting up at 5:45am to run in the sweaty, summer heat fun? No, not really, all I wanted this morning was iced coffee. Is running 400m intervals or a tempo run pleasant? No, it hurts. Sometimes, a lot. Is the last mile of a race fun? No, I usually feel like vomiting. So why does my brain keep associating running with something that is enjoyable?

I think, like anything that’s worth your time and energy, running may not be fun in the moment (unless you regularly get a runner’s high, in which case, I hate you), but it’s the rewards that make the effort worth it. Grinding through a tempo run might not feel good, but running a PR in your next race makes it worth it. Waking up early and hitting the roads isn’t the easiest thing to do, but that feeling of accomplishment you get when you’re finished? Golden. So I guess what I’m saying is that the physical act of running isn’t always going to be fun, but as runners we can train ourselves to recognize the benefits that eventually follow. And usually, the rewards that we get from running (time with friends, another piece of cake, 4 miles of stress-relief) overpower the temporary feelings of discomfort. Hmm, deep thoughts for a Wednesday morning.

In other news, I’ve been talking a lot of game about the new one-shouldered sports bra that I just bought. Is it practical? No, not really. But it IS fun to wear. I took it on a test run and here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • -Yes, it “works”. It has two pretty thick straps (that go over one shoulder), so there was minimal bounce.
  • -It’s fun to wear! I like wearing crazy running clothes – lime green compression socks, one-shoulder sports bras, booty shorts, bring them on!
  • -It’s super cute, so you can easily go from the gym to a date, no changing required! Hah, okay…kidding about that one. Sort of.
Cons:
  • -It cost $40, you could easily get a functional and cute sports bra from Target for half the price.
  • -It only comes in one size, so if you’re bigger than a B (errr, make that an A), this probably isn’t a good option.

The bra will be making it’s official appearance during the River 2 Sea Relay on July 30. Watch out.

On the foodie front, I picked up about 18 lbs of vegetables yesterday and despite sauna-like conditions, spent 2 hours in the kitchen prepping and cooking them for the week ahead.

As soon as I bring home my veggies, I wash and prep them.Because, let’s be honest, which are you more likely to eat after a long day at work – greens and squash that have been washed and trimmed? Or ones that are still covered in dirt?

I steamed some kale on the stove and roasted fennel, onion, bell pepper, and bok choy while I cooked a pot of cous cous.

Once everything was done cooking, I mixed the steamed kale, roasted vegetables, chopped squash and cucumber, cooked cous cous, crumbled feta cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil in a big bowl. Done. Lunch and dinner for the week ahead.

I’ll probably be eating this for quite a few meals, so to keep it from getting boring, I’ll change the add-ins every time I eat it. Hummus and sriracha sauce, canned tuna, and white beans all make good additions.

Project “save money so I can afford a new apartment” continues – last night I broke out the ice cream maker and made some homemade froyo. I mixed together 3 cups of fat-free Greek yogurt (whole milk yogurt would be even more delicious!), 1/3 cup corn syrup, and 1 Tbs vanilla and poured it into my Cuisinart. 20 minutes later, I had froyo!

Why the corn syrup you ask? Homemade ice cream and froyo tends to be icier than store-bought, but using corn syrup instead of sugar helps. Corn syrup consists of large glucose molecules and tangled starch chains which interrupt the flow of water molecules as the ice cream is mixing. Since the water molecules can’t move as freely, they are less likely to clump together and form ice crystals. (Information on molecules is thanks to an old issue of Cook’s Illustrated circa 2008…)

This bowl was about 62% as good as 16 Handles, but A LOT cheaper. The sacrifices I make…

When is running most “fun” for you? 

  • Running is most “fun” when I do it in relays in which my teammates where HAWT one-shouldered sports bras. Are you gonna puffy paint that sucker?

  • Anonymous

    AR also promised me a shot for every mile i run in a tiara. i hope she’s
    ready to pony up.

  • Haha that sports bra IS cute, but won’t you end up

  • Yeehaw! Ride it, girl. You look fantastic. The tan lines will be so astounding, you will want them tattooed. And running is most fun when I do it with pals, and almost as fun when I am kicking ass. Hopefully, R2C will bring both.

  • Kristy@RunTheLongRoad

    Long runs are the most fun for me because I truly let my mind wander.  It’s the only part of the day where I feel my brain doesn’t have to think.  It’s wonderful 🙂

  • Robin

    Haha, that sports bra is hilarious. I can’t believe it works?

  • Corey @ runner’s cookie

    I honestly find the “is running fun?” question so intriguing because I really am not sure how to answer it for me. I honestly think most of the time I do enjoy running while I’m doing it (or maybe I just convince myself of that after the fact?) I could also just be totally brainwashing myself while I’m running…I have no idea. Maybe I’ll pay a little more attention next time I go out!
    The sports bra is so cute on you!!And homemade froyo? Yes please, that’s a great money saving idea 🙂

  • 1)  The kale salad looks AWESOME.  I want to make it right now.

    2)  I used to struggle with the “omg, how can you *possibly* enjoy running??” question a lot more.  At this point, I think that the pleasure we get from running is the same type of pleasure we get from doing anything that requires hard work & effort but is rewarding & gives us a feeling of achievement. I’m sure lots of people have hobbies that can feel tedious at times; they’re just less often physically painful. 🙂

  • Lizzie

    I have to say, I do have fun in the middle of a run, even a tempo run. It happens just for a few seconds when my Garmin beeps my pace for the mile and I realize I’m hitting my goal and still feeling good. And then I get back on focus and try to do it for another mile.

  • Anonymous

    I have to say – I have the most “fun” when racing! Which is funny because I’m probably the most miserable immediately before a race (nerves) but during races I seem to have a lot of fun(as long as I’m not injuring myself or having stomach issues!)
    That sports bra is adorable, I’m getting one.

  • I liked this post a lot. I often struggle with why the heck I am running. I am always cursing at myself in the first 2 miles for running but then after that  something switches over and I do start enjoying it. Maybe it’s the runner’s high? I don’t know. I think it’s the sense of achievement I feel afterwards. That’s what keeps me coming back.

  • Homemade froyo! Another kitchen tool I need to invest in…

    I am so intrigued by the one shoulder sports bra. It’s schnazzy. Running is most fun for me when I’m running with fun pals like yourself (ok, this morning I kind of wanted to die, but usually I enjoy myself), when I see improvements in my speed, get a good long run in. So pretty much all the time except when it’s 3598723 degrees out. 🙂

  • Dad

    Running fun??? Intriguing question… “Back in the day” I always looked forward to getting out for a run. Running felt “good”, especially long runs, nourished the soul, afforded a means to release pent-up frustrations, and mentally and physically challenging. Could I push it to the next urility pole, corner, fence post, bend, hilltop, another mile etc? Yeah, it felt good, so I reckon that equates to fun…

    As for the sports bra… Well, it’s not really my place to comment on such things, but you do look like ya got the Greek Goddess/Athenean thingy going on with it 😉 hee hee…

    Veggies look interesting/appealing. Might have to convert from my “meat an tatter” diet 😉 Home made ice cream – yummm… Winesap apples will be ready for pickin here in another 2 weeks or so. Do you want a box???

  • beth pretti

    Running is most fun when I see the sign that says “Mile 26”

  • Running is most fun when done with friends, the feeling you get after you set a new PR in a race, the feeling when you’ve accomplished a long run and know you mentally and physically pushed yourself, and those amazing (but all too rare) days where your legs are flying and you could run forever!!

    That kale salad looks great– I made one the other week but kept the leaves raw. It was fine raw and I actually quite enjoyed it, but I think steaming them would help make a bit better. And LEMON sounds delicious with this recipe.

    I <3 that sports bra. And the (future) tan lines to come with it.

  • For you friend/coworker/whoever, I think that with any sport you have to stick with it through a “critical threshold” or something until it becomes fun. Running was MISERABLE for me at first. So, I had to make tricks to make it fun – making it social, mostly. I’m sure when people play tennis for the first time, its really frustrating because they can’t carry out a rally. But, once you can, its awesome.

    I think you make running fun for yourself if you know what you want out of it. I want to get better so I put myself through some highly unpleasant workouts which are “fun” for me I guess, because I know (or at least hope) it will pay off in a race someday. And somedays, like today, I want a purely social run to shoot the shit with a friend and thats always fun. 

    So, I guess running is most fun for me when a) I PR or surprise myself in a race b) have a purely social run that takes my mind off things or c) have that sense when I’m running that I am awesome and can conquer the world.

    I am sorry for this novel!

  • That bra kind of cracks me up! Rarely do I look that cute when working out… lol

    Running is most fun for me when I’m in the middle of a few miles and feel myself hitting my stride. It makes me feel strong. 🙂

  • First of all, I love that sports bra! Maybe not entirely practical, but it’s so cute!

    Secondly – I was just thinking about the running = fun? question this morning as I felt like I was crawling through my run. The run itself wasn’t completely awful, but it certainly wasn’t fun and I found myself wondering how we can all keep doing this crazy sport when it isn’t really all that fun a lot of the time. But then I finished the run and showered and suddenly I felt so good. I was excited that I had started off the day with a great workout and when I looked back on my run, it really didn’t seem all that bad.

    I think we runners have a little bit of a selective memory. The okay times are easy to forget when we have great runs when everything falls into place, new PRs, runs with friends, etc. While I do have some runs where I feel like I’m on top of the world, I think the best part about running (what makes it the MOST fun) is what we get out of it.

    And finally – I need to get myself an ice cream maker! I think I would put that to very good use this summer.

  • Anonymous

    So true about the selective memory! I read somewhere that cool-down jogs help your body to forget about the pain of running hard (and hence you’ll be more likely to do it in the future…). The study suggested that because you were ending your workout on a “high note”, you’ll be more likely to associate workouts with positive feelings.

  • Anonymous

    I like the idea of a critical threshold – it definitely takes a while (a few months?) before running starts to feel somewhat do-able. Just ask my 15 year old self, it took the entire track season before I could run 2 miles without stopping!

  • Anonymous

    I always struggle with what to do with kale (I think I mentioned that on your Kale recipe post…), but steaming it allows me to mix it with other things more easily. I bet I could add it to cooked pasta or maybe even eggs as well!

  • Anonymous

    haha, Dad comments are the best. btw, i received the pizza stone in the mail the other day (and the latest issue of People magazine). thanks! can’t wait to try it out! 🙂

  • oh dude.  Maybe I’m in the minority here, but running is 99% FUN for me.  It’s my obsession, not because I’m compulsive or manic, but because I truly love to run.  I love the way it feels almost every step of the way, and if I ever don’t, I just slow down until it feels good. 

    I feel great after.  I feel great during.  I feel great charging my garmin and ipod.  I feel great writing about it on my blog!!

    The only painful part is those 5 minutes after your alarm goes off, and it crosses your mind how much energy you are about to expend, even though spending zero energy lying in bed feels so nice. 

    I’m not usually a smiley, optimistic nut.  But really, when it comes to running I am.  God I love running

  • I’ve somehow been blessed with a love for getting up early in the mornings, so I run every morning before work at 5am. I have so much fun running at this time because it is still dark outside and I feel like I’m sneaking around the neighborhood on an undercover secret agent mission. It’s also incredibly peaceful to be outside before the world wakes up and life gets hectic.

  • I’ve somehow been blessed with a love for getting up early in the mornings, so I run every morning before work at 5am. I have so much fun running at this time because it is still dark outside and I feel like I’m sneaking around the neighborhood on an undercover secret agent mission. It’s also incredibly peaceful to be outside before the world wakes up and life gets hectic.

  • Alexis

    I steamed some Kale the other night and it turned a brownish color. It was still tender and tasted great, but the color was not green. I’m trying to figure out if this is normal or not!

  • Jen B.

    I think I’m going to ask for a ice cream maker for Xmas…I see lots of froyo in my future.  As for the question when is running most fun for me???  I love the feeling that I get in the middle of a long run when I can just zone out to my music and my body goes on auto pilot.  Then, all of a sudden I “wake up” and think to myself “hey, I just ran X number of miles and didn’t even realize it!!!”    Ahhh, bliss. 

  • Melanie

    ZOMG I need that ice cream maker. Like, now. Also: are you getting interesting tan lines from that sports bra? 

    I think running can be amazingly fun and absolutely soul zapping, depending on the day. But here’s the thing – I’ve never REGRETTED going for a run. Even the very worst ones. I’m always glad I went.  

    Maybe it’s a necessity? I feel like I’ve gotten to a point now with running that it’s just become my for of normal. I’m simply not myself if I haven’t run my usual mileage. I get edgy, fidgety, nervous…. ok fine, I get bitchy. Maybe it’s the pent up energy?  I dunno. But I was injured after the NYCM and it was HELL…. for me and for my poor husband who had to deal with me.

    Know what never stops being fun about running? The bragging rights 🙂 

  • omg your tan lines are going to be EPIC. can you wear that sports bra on a long run on saturday morning so i can experience them in person at the beach on sunday? 🙂

    i think it’s important to focus on the runs that *do* feel fun (i’m sure they happen!), because without all the ones where you feel slow or achey or in pain, you wouldn’t have the base you need to actually have runs that feel good.  and for those just starting out like the person you were talking to, i really believe you can teach yourself to enjoy exercise when you set goals – there’s nothing better than achieving a goal you set, whether it’s running 3 miles without stopping or doing 50 pushups or running a sub 1:30 half.  like you said, a lot of times it’s the rewards that make it all worth it.

  • Running is a lot more fun now that I’ve joined a running team- speedwork is more fun when there’s someone cheering you on! and running is most definitely fun AFTER the run when you pat yourself on the back for being so awesome 🙂

    PS. love the bra! I also second the epic tan lines

  • I have to agree with you that running is fun 🙂 I think the key is to keep it interesting. If you run the same distance/route/etc. everyday it can get mundane quickly…

  • I have a hard time explaining to people when they are critical of running, aka why I love it.  First, I love finished a hard race and setting PRs but duh.  I think what I love is that I feel like I’m part of a community.  We runners speak a common language.  I love that!

  • I definitely agree with the “critical threshold” idea…when I first started running consistently, it was two weeks before high school started, as that’s when cross country practice started.  My legs hurt so bad and I really wanted to quit and had no idea why people liked it.  Clearly I’m soooo glad I stuck with it!  I had another round like that after I got injured last year…getting back into running after taking two months off was rough!  I knew I could push through it, but getting those first miles back under my legs was no walk in the park and I definitely understand why people don’t stick with running.  It’s hard at first until you realize how great of an accomplishment those miles really are.

    Can’t decide what I think about that sports bra, although it looks really fun!

  • I get a runner’s high. I think the scenery makes it, along with great music. Plus the energy burst too.