There’s no denying that running sucks. This widely accepted fact becomes even more true in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Don’t ask me why TJ felt that a small mountain range was the ideal spot to build a large university, but if running for fitness were popular in 1819, we would all be in our dorms at Tech right now with no lawn to streak (so I’ll stop complaining).
As an avid runner and subsequent hater of running, I’ve experienced my fair share of physical and emotional distress while running through Hooville. But – at least I’d like to think – I’ve come out of these painful experiences with a greater appreciation for the gorgeous Grounds we live on. For the Wahoo looking into conquering one or all of the seemingly thousands of hills on Grounds relatively painlessly, here’s a list of ten ways to snag those endorphins.
Make a killer pump-up playlist for every stage of your run.
It doesn’t take long to figure out your running style. Some of us hate the first mile, some of us dread the final stretch, and yes, some of us hate the whole thing. Tailor your running playlist to your most taxing moments. If that second mile really kicks your butt, make sure that your most motivating songs play during that eight-minute period (or 20 minute, you do you!). Likewise, if you’re really struggling to close the deal, put together a line-up that finishes with the song that keeps you awake during that second all-nighter in a row at Clem –“Going the Distance” from Rocky is highly recommended.
Get headphones that STAY IN YOUR EARS.
I think every runner would agree that the SINGLE most annoying part of running is dealing with those sneaky little earbuds that can’t stay in for more than a minute at a time. If you’re like me and you sweat like a linebacker during summer preseason, cheap earbuds will not do the trick. I’d recommend finding some wireless earbuds (or headphones if you’re not a sweaty mess) if you enjoy hearing your music while you run.
Wear supportive sneakers.
For the first two months at UVA, I was running in Nike Free Run 2.0s five times a week, and my hamstrings were tighter than my jeggings. These kicks are ADORABLE and great for everyday use, but they have the arch support equivalent to that of an Old Navy flip-flop. Unsupportive shoes can cause shin splints, tight hamstrings, and overall fatigue– all things you’re trying to avoid by running. Find yourself some thick-soled sneakers that fit your shoe size, because there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve burned no calories on your run due to bad shoes.
Get your hair in order.
Second to the earbud fiasco, messy hair can really derail a potentially “okay” three mile run. Stock your bathroom with hair ties, headbands, and bobby pins to make sure that you can keep your face clear and hair-free.
Pull together an outfit that makes you feel AMAZING.
Some people are afraid to admit it, but when you think you look good, you will feel good. If you are most confident in a baggy t-shirt and basketball shorts–go for it. If you prefer to jog in a sports bra and spandex, do it! Put any potential judgements aside and wear what makes you feel confident and sexy, because I can guarantee that if you do, your run will be that less painful.
BUT, wear something comfortable.
I am ALL for body-positivity and owning your run, but don’t put yourself in unnecessary discomfort or pain just for the sake of fashion. If you’ve got thunder thighs like me, as much as I love my UVA spandex, they leave me with chaffing that lasts three days minimum. Hence, the risk outweighs the reward of looking hip. However, if spandex don’t cause chaffing for you, don’t let me stop you from rocking them! Find outfits that build confidence by making you feel good and comfortable.
Trace your Run on MapMyRun.com before you go.
This website/app is a LIFE SAVER. Just pick your starting point and start clicking away. The site tracks the mileage and changes in elevation as you construct your own running route through Grounds, so if you’re determined to avoid every hill (which is impossible, sorry)–this is going to be your new favorite thing. Once you’re done, save the route and have it sent to your phone. You can then access the route on the MapMyRun app and follow along as you run…even though hopefully you know where you’re going by now!
Run with a friend.
Distractions are THE only way that I survive the longer, harder, hotter runs on my workout schedule. Whether you’re going for a slower recovery jog and want to maintain a conversational pace, or need competitive friends to push you to your limit, running with friends is a huge motivator and can even make the run remotely fun.
Finish with food.
The one thing I love more than working out is eating. About every week, I draw my finish line at the doorstep of Roots, and unsurprisingly, my run to Roots is almost always my fastest run of the week. Not only do you deserve a reward for slaying that route: you need to fuel yourself. Yeah, yeah, N2GO Mac n’ cheese and a pulled pork sandwich aren’t the most nutritious post-run snacks, but if they can get you off your couch, then don’t let me discourage you.
If you’re a first year or transfer student, it’s likely that your grasp of the size and layout of Grounds is pretty limited. Keep your head up as you run through Grounds.
Not only will doing so help you get your bearings, but it will distract you from the miserable physical activity you’re currently enduring.
We have one of the most beautiful campuses in America, so I promise it’s worth the look. Don’t get too distracted along the main road though, unless you’re on the hunt for free tuition.