How to Start Liking Running

“I let people lean on me as the coach,” said Becs Gentry, one of Peloton’s running instructors. Since she records classes while running herself, Ms. Gentry uses her own internal battles as motivators. If she feels exhausted she’ll say: “I know this sucks, guys, but we are gonna do this together. Don’t let me down.” Or: “You can do this for three minutes. Think of all the things that take longer than three minutes.”

For a less chatty virtual trainer, you can use the Couch to 5K app, a beginner-friendly program that lets you choose characters like Johnny Dead, a brain-chasing zombie, or Runicorn, the running unicorn, to tell you when to run or walk.

Experts will advise sleeping in your running gear — compression tights and all — so there is nothing between you and starting your morning run. The idea is that you’re putting friction between you and getting out the door. And, as Tara Parker-Pope explained in our 7-Day Well Challenge, removing obstacles like this makes it more likely you’ll achieve a new health goal. But there was no way I was sleeping in a sports bra or getting myself out of bed before 7 a.m. to run.

The light bulb moment came when the woman who leads my running group, Helen McCaffrey Birney, told us over Zoom that she just doesn’t always wear clean clothes to run. She re-wears her cute leggings with pockets, and no one is the wiser. Since the one thing I need less of during the pandemic is laundry (a close second to dirty dishes), this has been the perfect way to cut down on friction and housework.

If you’re also OK re-wearing gear, just be sure to keep those dirty clothes in one spot in your room, perhaps on a hook so the sweat dries in time for the next workout. Eventually, you should wash them before they start announcing themselves as they enter a room — my experience is probably after three wearings.

You may not think of yourself as speedy, but you are probably running faster than you need to. Think you’re moving slower than if you were walking? Slow down more. Feeling like a turtle? Put the turtle in slow-motion.

You will be able to run longer this way, and the slower you go the more you can pay attention to your body. That ache in your shins is telling you something, but not necessarily that you need to stop running. Maybe you need to put your foot down differently or try a different recovery stretch.

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