How To Make Running Fun When You're Not A Runner

By Rachel Brandt
In Culture

It’s easy to set goals; reaching those goals is a different story. If you used to be a runner and have fallen out of practice or if you’ve always wished you could take it up and just don’t know how to start, we’ve got you covered.

Photo of Kourtney Thomas by Jon Koch

Photo of Kourtney Thomas by Jon Koch

Meet Kourtney Thomas, a personal trainer, running coach and creator of Lagniappe Fitness. Thomas has years of experience working with people who have set and accomplished all sorts of fitness goals. We sat down with her to talk about running, specifically running for non-runners.

For Thomas, running didn’t always come easy. In fact, for most of her life she avoided it, “We’ve all been there. You decide to go to the park to take a stroll, find a nice place to lie on a blanket and read a book. Inevitably, you see the runners. Like, 50 of them. Who are these people, anyway? They’re just, running on purpose! My friends, running is for everyone. You can do it, trust me. Coming from the girl who avoided running like the plague for most of her life, I can confidently say, you got this. The key is to just get started. How do you do that? It’s much easier than you’d think.”

Photo of Kourtney Thomas by Jon Koch

Photo of Kourtney Thomas by Jon Koch

Thomas’ advice for starting out doesn’t involve specific plans, speed drills or any complicated strategies. She believes the best way to get motivated to build a running practice is to simply get moving. She says, “Go outside. Walk for 5 minutes. Then run for 1 minute, followed by walking for 9 minutes. Do that two more times. In 35 minutes, you’re back at your door feeling accomplished. Do that two more times this week. Next week, increase the running time to 2 minutes, followed by walking for 8 minutes, then repeat. Follow the pattern for 10 weeks, and boom, you are running for 30 minutes straight. The idea is small bites. Fit it in when you can. You are not too busy (or hungover).”

So the next looming question is how do we stay motivated? Most of us know all too well the heavy weight of failure when we set a goal to start running only to quit after a week. Thomas says that it’s not as tricky as we make it seem. She shared 5 tips with us for staying motivated.

1/ Be Competitive
Maybe you were a star athlete in a former life, so sign up for a race. Start with a 5k. Have a goal to run the whole race. Once you smash that, sign up for another and try to pick up speed. Pro tip: Find a small race with 5-year age groups. You’ll stand a better chance of placing in your age group, and that will most definitely leave you motivated and feeling like a million bucks. Not to mention, you’ll get a snazzy medal to hang in your office.

2/ Go The Distance
If competition isn’t your thing, set distance goals.  Again, start with a 5k. Then gradually work your way up to running a 10k. Perhaps commit to training for a half marathon. Not only are there hundreds of races around the STL local area, but thousands across the country. Seeing a city on foot is an awesome way to keep your running mojo going.

3/ Enjoy The Outdoors
If you’re the type who likes new scenery, there are countless neighborhoods, parks, and trails in the area to explore.  Every time I get bored with my usual routine, I hop in the car and go somewhere else to mix it up. It’s the best way to discover St. Louis, or anywhere else for that matter. Just remember runner safety.

4/ Hire A Running Coach 
Maybe you like a bit more personal encouragement and someone to hold you accountable. Hire a running coach. It’s not just for the fast guys or Olympic athletes and it’s not nearly as expensive as you assume. A coach will work with you to determine your goals, write a plan to help you reach them and support you along the way. They will probably even bring funny signs to your goal race. What could be better?

Photo courtesy of Happy's Running Club

Photo courtesy of Happy’s Running Club

5/ Join A Running Group 
Don’t fall into any of the previous categories but still want to find a way to make hitting the pavement fun? Join a fun running group like Happy’s Running Club Saint Louis. Meet at a bar, go for a little jog through Tower Grove Park, and meet back at the bar to replenish carbs with delicious cold beer.

Thomas stresses that running isn’t just for the dedicated marathoners. She is confident that running is a great way for people of all walks of life to stay healthy. She says, “Run alone to clear your head or with a group to meet new friends. Sweat out that vodka from the weekend. Y’all, I’ve seen runners tattooed from head to toe and I’ve seen runners in their 90s going strong. This is not a ‘fit people’ thing. It’s an anybody thing. Take it easy, make it a habit and soon, you’ll be one of those folks running the path instead of just picnicking.”

Thank you to Kourtney Thomas for these great tips! Check out Thomas’ company, Lagniappe Fitness for more information and consult her great health and fitness blog for more advice. Thomas has pledged to live healthy for 31 days by participating in #31DaysOfMovement. Will you? Join the conversation on social media and subscribe to Be Well STL for regular posts.

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