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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

Can running ever be joyful movement?

Updated: Feb 27

Joyful movement prioritizes moving for the sake of how movement makes you feel.  Prioritizing joy and pleasure in movement turns movement activities into embodied acts of self-care.  Tuning into our physical and mental needs allows us to nurture and respect ourselves and our miraculous bodies. 

So... is it possible that a high-intensity exercise like running could ever by joyful?!

You might choose running because you remember how it made you feel

fast and invincible as a kid. 

You love the rhythm of your feet and breath. 

You love the idea of bounding through the woods like a deer. 

You might be lucky to have a trail nearby and the option of a easy-paced cruise with

your dog a few days a week. 

You know that running clears your head, limbers up your body, energizes you for the day, wrings out your worries. 

It might be a thing you do with your teen or your partner. 

Maybe you’re a midlife woman wanting to keep your bones and muscles strong. 

Maybe your social time dovetails nicely with your running group meet-ups. 

Perhaps you notice you sleep better when you’ve run. 

Maybe your doc has suggested exercise to help regulate blood pressure,

cholesterol, or blood sugar. 

Running might be the cross training that supports other fun movement activities.


All of these are GREAT, positive reasons to run that emphasize the self-care, body-respecting aspect of joyful movement. 


The thing is, most of us are MUCH more familiar with running as disciplined self-torture than as a movement that brings pleasure. So how do we shift our perspectives and start to enjoy our running workouts?

Know your why.  Why is it that you want to run?  Think – what positive gains are you running toward?  These will keep you motivated far longer than running away from something, like negative body beliefs.


Check in before your workout.  Do a quick body scan, and take your mental temperature.  What kind of movement would make you feel best today?  If it’s running –


Choose an enjoyable workout.  What kind of running workout will give you the benefit you desire, and at how much duration and intensity?  Run/walk intervals might serve you on a day that you need to reserve energy for a big work project.  Running hills might help burn off nervous energy before a presentation.  A walk might give you precious conversation time with a kiddo.  Taking a work break and zipping around a field barefoot might awaken your inner, rebellious little kid.  All movement counts! 


Check in again after your workout.  How do you feel now?  Did you get the energy/focus/relaxation you needed for your day?  If not – this is not failure, just information.  Try again, and change something.


Make damn sure your clothes feel good.  It sucks to be forcing yourself into clothing that doesn’t work for you, either because you can’t find the sizes you need or you’re forcing yourself into workout clothes from years ago.  You’re worth it.  Find something comfortable, no apologies. Here's my ever-evolving list of size-inclusive outdoor brands.


Eat.  Eat well because food is delicious.  Eat well before your workouts so that you can run happily without bonking; eat well after your workouts to strengthen your body and thank it for what it’s capable of.  Go here for resources on joyful movement’s founding concept, intuitive eating.


Rest – or do another movement activity.  Some days this is what you need.  You’ll be a happier and stronger runner and mover for having taken rest days or switching it up!

What helps you keep your movement joyful? Scroll down to comment below - yep, fully at the bottom of the page!

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