In March, 2003 I participated in the World Cross Country championships in Lausanne Switzerland. I represented the US Virgin Islands in the long course (8K). This was my first World Cross Country championship and I was excited about it. It was such an honor to be on the starting line with the likes of Deena Kastor and other greats. Because the Virgin Islands had such small representation (I was the only female), I shared my starting gate with a couple of other countries with small representation.

One of the women in the gate with me with me was from Malawi, a small country in Africa. What do you like about running After the race, my new acquaintance from Malawi came up to me for a chat. During our conversation, I asked her what she liked about running; she said it was fun. I had never heard someone use the word “fun” to describe running before. I enjoyed training and competing to my core, but never described it as fun. But for some reason what she said impacted me in a way I couldn’t forget. I thought “what a great way of looking at the sport;” it had a sort of lightness about it.

What is your definition of fun

I used to describe  fun only as something that made me feel good while I was doing it—laughing, talking, joking and enjoying. And running didn’t always do that. Sure, doing an easy run with a group of friends down a shaded trail was always fun, but tempo runs, fartleks, track and hill running were all hard work— with little to no laughing involved. Going to the beach, attending a party or spending time with a good friend seemed to be easier activities to describe as fun.

What’s the point

But I have always thought that if something isn’t fun, it isn’t worth doing. Sure there are chores that we have to do to keep our day to day life moving forward, like going to the bank, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house and various other things that we may not consider fun, but something like a hobby, if that isn’t fun, what is the point doing it?

And so I began to reshape my definition of fun. It is fun to achieve the tempo pace that you set out for. It is fun to conquer the hill that defeated you once before and it is fun to achieve the goal time you have spent several months training for.

It’s a matter of perspective

It is about your perception. How much fun you have and what you have fun doing is directly related to YOU. If you want to have fun in your running, take a look at what barriers or beliefs that you have that may be preventing you from doing so. Are you overly serious? Did you have healthy role models for having fun? Do you feel like you don’t have permission from yourself, partner, family or others to take the time to have fun?

How you answer these questions should give you insight into your ability to have fun. For example, if you are overly serious, your ability to have fun is probably very low. If you discover that your ability to have fun is low, investigate the beliefs that may be holding you back. Common beliefs that take the fun out of anything include:

  • It selfish to indulge in personal, fun things.
  • It takes away from family time to participate in individual, fun activities.
  • You have to have a serious outlook on life in order to survive.
  • Fun is illusive or unobtainable.
  • The only fun things are immoral, illegal or fattening.
  • Fun is bad if it becomes an end in itself.
  • I feel so guilty when I’m doing nothing and just relaxing.
  • The only real relaxation is sleep.
  • I don’t have time for fun.
  • Having fun at work or school is foolish, immature and irresponsible.
  • What will people think of me if they see me acting so unprofessional!
  • It’s OK to have fun once in awhile, but you have to come back to reality.
  • It is impossible to have fun when you are loaded down with all my responsibilities.
  • I’ll wait until I retire to enjoy myself.
  • I have got to be crazy to enjoy this.
  • I have to “serious” to be successful

So you see, whether running is fun or not, is completely up to you. Photo credit