Archived Story

Tips on how to enjoy time spent running

Published 9:35am Friday, May 23, 2014

Things I Tell My Wife by Matthew Knutson

“I just wanted to give everyone a high five,” I told my wife after my evening run. Because my neighborhood has a dedicated walk/run/bike path that is well utilized, my traditional solitary runs are now a much more public affair. It’s become a pretty common occurrence that someone will come huffing and puffing toward me and I’ll have to restrain my inner voice shouting, “Look at us! We’re doing it!”

I’m not one of those runners that enter every 5K and half marathon in the state. I’m just out there trying to get a little exercise to keep the cancer away, and I’m clearly not the only one a little out of shape that struggles deep inside with an internal voice saying, “You should exercise!” and an external voice saying, “Cookies.”

That’s why when I see other people out on the path, I just want to cheer them on. Why does everyone become so stoic when they put on running shoes? A friendly smile as people cross each other’s path is a rarity. Instead, an awkward eye glance normally occurs which leads to both parties quickly pretending they didn’t see each other. That’s simply not a fun way to run.

I recall an episode of “Friends” where Phoebe and Rachel agree to go running together, and Rachel becomes incredibly embarrassed by the way Phoebe jogs through Central Park. “I run like I did when I was a kid because that’s the only way it’s fun,” Phoebe explained. If we’re going to exercise, we might as well have fun doing it.

I’ll admit I stay away from most physical activity because I don’t know what I’m doing. If you put me in a gym, I likely wouldn’t know what to do with half the equipment, and I’d be slightly paranoid using the other half just in case I was doing it wrong. That’s not fun, so I go running instead. Plus, running is free.

As a fitness novice, here are my tips for enjoying your time running.

1. Go running someplace scenic or meaningful. When I lived in Forest City, I’d often go running past the spot where I proposed to my wife. Reaching our proposal spot marked the halfway point, so everything after that seemed easy. That’s probably the only time in life where everything after a proposal seems easy. Here in Rochester I’m blessed with a running path that goes from a peaceful wooded area with a river running through it to a brilliant view of downtown. The combination of city and country keeps me distracted as I pretend my stomach isn’t cramping.

2. Listen to music. Having a playlist filled with a variety of songs makes the time go faster. If you’re looking to increase your speed, I recommend a playlist filled with awful songs to motivate you to reach the end of your route faster, thereby lessening the amount of time you have to listen to bad music. Anything by Taylor Swift should do the trick.

3. Don’t care what you look like. You’re not going to look awesome, I can guarantee that. The running path is literally outside my townhouse’s window, so my wife and I get to see plenty of people running past our place. Rarely does someone not look goofy. Sometimes someone’s hands go ridiculously high when they jog, other times people weirdly keep them at their side. Have you seen someone who widens their eyes when they run? I have. Because running naturally brings out the goon in all of us, have fun with it.

4. Embrace that your time doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that you’re exercising. Sometimes my 5K takes 40 minutes, and sometimes it’s 30. Sometimes, often when I feel like I’m running my fastest time ever, my iPhone gets bumped and doesn’t record my time at all. Acknowledging that you’ve taken time out to improve yourself should make the run at least a little more enjoyable for you.

Maybe nobody will ever find me high-fiving the other runner socially acceptable, and maybe the people passing by will continue to awkwardly pretend I don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t exercise. Here’s to hoping you go on one more fun run this year than you did last year.


Rochester resident Matt Knutson is the communications and events director for United Way of Olmsted County.