Do not ever make the mistake of choosing the wrong incentive to reward good habits. If you are running for health, it’s purpose defeating to reward you after each running session with junk -but tasty- food. You are in fact telling your mind junk food is great. It isn’t.
But if you don’t love doing sports, then you have a problem? How do you reward yourself? I mean on a daily basis. On the long run, you’ll feel more healthy and that would become a great reward on its own. But the first day you run you’ll feel tired, maybe even embarrassed that people see how slow you are or how soon you get tired. That while a more fit fellow races pasts you, without even thinking about it.
You need results of some kind, now.
Need? Well, maybe you don’t. If your will is strong enough -and try to get a good will, it helps with everything- you don’t really need those.
But why to have it the hard way? Why should you run as if it were boring and stressing when it can be is fun.
Imitate the fun masters.
Who are the fun masters? Kids, of course. Go to a park, you’ll see adults running a circuit for so many miles or so many minutes. What are kids doing? They race around, arms stretched, pretending to be a fighter plane. That’s fun. Or dodging trees as they slalom through them. Or chasing a guy holding a ball. Or playing football, soccer or even jumping to avoid the terrible marks on the pavement. You touch them, you are dead. Our even scaring the soul out of pigeons, which might be a wee cruel, but still is fun.
Meanwhile, this adult has been running for 25′:12″, still 4′:48″ to go.
Now tell me, who’s more likely to return?
Follow your heart.
Now, you aren’t a child anymore. It could be interesting to wake up one day, as in some movies, and discover you are 12 again. It would be fun, for one day or two, but then you’ll have to live through the tough part of being a kid again (and with elderly parents if you get lucky, or maybe in foster care but I’m getting silly).
What I’m saying is that, I know, many of the things we did as kids are not so fun now. (Some might be, if you only try and forget what anybody would think about it, though). However, you can still find fun with movement. Do you like car races? Watching sports? A rock concert? A classic orchestra concert? A passionate preacher or speaker? Do you know what do they all have these in common? Movement.
Kids put their passions and dreams in their games: Dinosaurs, planes, being a rugby star, visiting Uranus, being a Pokemon, whatever.
Do the same, but with your passions. I’m sure you can. Let me use an extreme example, very extreme, some dealing with Philosophy. If I can put philosophy into running, I can put anything into running.
So let’s suppose you are a fan of this guy Husserl. Phenomenology and all that. Nerd stuff, sorry to be one. Anyway, you could do a phenomenological study of your running as you go. Yep, it can be done.
OK, that was extreme. But what about movies? or stories? or dreams? Why can’t they be incorporated into your running? Running is the perfect time to relax and just let your mind get creative. Why can’t you imagine, as you run, that you are in Vienna, Austria, dancing in the Imperial Palace? You can if that’s your dream.
Praying… what better place to worship than the Earth God built? Art… what better place to get inspired? Every flower, tree, every face you meet has a story hidden for you to discover.
(By the way, have you noticed I’m implying you aren’t using a treadmill? )
Take a fun master with you
If you have children, chances are high they might want to run with you. Hey, chances are high they might want just to be with you. So guess, how much they might want to do something fun with you.
…and those little cubs can be useful…
I mean, if you want to go “spitfire” or “mustang” or even “corsair”, you could get some funny looks. After all, you don’t expect a running adult stretching out his or her arms and doing some jolly machinegun fire, do you? Or pretending to be Kim Possible or Jake Long of American Dragon fame?
But if you are with a kid, it becomes OK. It becomes great, actually, you are having great quality time with your kids.
You are not only running, but also being a great role model, communicating the best way, you can:
- creativity -> you are running for fun, remember, incorporating what you love into your running.
- healthy habits (duh)
- good parenthood
- you value your child
And that’s just top of my head. Encourage your critter to be funny, not dangerous, lead and allow yourself to be led from time to time. And see the calories running away.
(And do I need to say anything about dogs?)
You can even get overboard.
Perhaps not everyday, but you can make your running an event without having to resort to competitions. What about an adventure?
Choose a theme: Sci-Fi, for example.
Choose a story: While in deep space our ship is about to explode and there’s an alien running after us
Choose some complications: A door needs a code to be opened; that can only be guessed solving a riddle. Or the automatic fire extinguisher system is broken down and we are going to simulate the effort needed to put the fire off with some push-ups -or whatever you feel safe to do-
Now, assign the story and complications to your running. Let’s say where you start in real life, it’s the bridge of the ship. After the first 5 minutes of running (or whatever) you (or your young one) has to solve the riddle. Let’s say after ten minutes running you’ll need to extinguish that fire through the push-ups (or abs or…). When you arrive to the end of your circuit you are safe in the escape pod.
That makes for a very basic game, that can be quite fun, though. But if you want, to make it a bit more full-fledged, consider having a look at EABA Anywhere, (pdf file) which is an 8 pages free roleplaying game by Greg Porter, the friendly chap behind BTRC. It goes diceless (actually it uses paper-rock-scissors + bonus as a way to solve who wins), its character sheets can be held in a wallet and so it could be played literally on the run.
These are just some ideas, go grow some of your own, and please, do not ever run bored again!