kindler1You’ve been at it for as long as you can remem­ber, and while you know your love remains con­stant, your rela­tion­ship with it at times has like­ly become a bit strained, lack­lus­ter, or neglect­ed. Every run­ner goes through ups and downs in their rela­tion­ship with the sport but there’s no need to suf­fer through a breakup. Here are five tips for a life­time of hap­pi­ness with the sport you love to hate.

1. Switch it Up
If you’ve been run­ning for a long time, chances are you’ve got a rou­tine route — maybe even two. While this can be good, it can also get bor­ing. Try some new ter­rain and tech­nique to re-ignite some pas­sion in your run­ning life. If you typ­i­cal­ly run on the road, try head­ing out for a trail run instead. If you usu­al­ly run a ten-minute-mile pace, try chang­ing that very pace or incor­po­rat­ing fartlek or inter­val work into your run. If you always start by bolt­ing out through the front door, con­sid­er rid­ing your bike to a new route or bring­ing your run­ning gear with you to work and head­ing out from the office dur­ing lunch or after you’ve fin­ished your day.

2. Make it a Pri­or­i­ty
If run­ning has tak­en the back burn­er to every oth­er activ­i­ty in your life, the hon­ey­moon peri­od is over and it may be time to re-pri­or­i­tize. Do this by writ­ing down the miles you’d like to run on the days you’d like to run them or enter them into your Google Cal­en­dar. If you’re a to-do-list lover, add run­ning to your list and be sure to check it off once you’re done; you’ll expe­ri­ence pos­i­tive rein­force­ment every time you check ‘done’ or cross it off altogether.

3. Get Social
As in life and in love, bal­anc­ing time alone and with friends is impor­tant. If you’ve spent too much time hit­ting the pave­ment alone, bring a friend along for the ride. Make a new “run­ning bud­dy,” some­one who you can count on to join you for miles on a reg­u­lar basis and who will be hap­py to talk to you while you’re out there. Also, con­sid­er join­ing a free run­ning group in your com­mu­ni­ty. Many local run­ning stores offer group run­ning nights or have the infor­ma­tion you need to join one elsewhere.

kindler24. Make a (Race) Date
Sign up for a run­ning event such as an upcom­ing 10k or half marathon. You don’t have to actu­al­ly plan to race the event, per se, but sim­ply know­ing you’ve got a date on which you have to join many fel­low run­ners at the start­ing line will remind you to train and get back in the groove. What’s more, run­ning events are much more ener­getic and excit­ing than any run you can do alone, which may help remind you why you fell in love with run­ning in the first place.

5. Be Nice
Remem­ber to lis­ten to your body and your mind. If you’re hurt­ing, don’t force your­self to run. It’s nat­ur­al to take a break every once in a while. With that, don’t be too hard on your­self if you’re injured or sim­ply too busy, burnt out or pre­oc­cu­pied in your life. The good news is: run­ning will always be there when you come back to it, so don’t stress over missed days. That said, get back into it when you’re ready and rekin­dle that relationship!