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5 Ways to Boost Your Mood During a Run

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Updated March 27, 2013

Running usually helps me relieve stress, but there are times when I'm either bored or tired and I'm not feeling very upbeat when running. When you find yourself in a bad mood during a run, try some of these ideas as a pick-me-up.

1. Ditch the treadmill and run outdoors.

Runner Outdoors
Janie Airey

If you've ever thought that running outside makes you feel better mentally than running indoors, you're not imagining things. Research does show that even small doses of outdoor exercise can have a significant effect on mental health. In a meta-analysis of 10 studies, researchers at the University of Essex found that moving outdoors for even just five minutes improved both mood and self-esteem.

2. Play the "this could be worse" game.

Runner Wearing Sunglasses
John P Kelly

When I'm in a bad mood during a run, I try to make sure I'm not taking running for granted. I feel fortunate to not be injured, stuck in a work meeting, or doing an undesirable house chore like cleaning the bathroom. Before I know it, my mood is elevated and the time starts passing much more quickly.

3. Use a mantra.

Man Running in Rain
Chase Jarvis

If you let negative thoughts, such as "I feel tired", creep in, they’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep saying a mantra, or a positive phrase such as, "I feel good" or "I'm feeling better".  You'll eventually start to believe it.

4. Be a friendly runner.

Three women running
Yellow Dog Productions
Say hello or make a positive comment to other runners you pass. Doing so can really break up the monotony of your run and will definitely perk up your spirits.

Also see: How to Be a Friendly Runner

5. Smile.

Runner smiling
Matthew Leete
Smiling activates your endorphins, and it's really tough to stay in a bad mood when you're smiling.

Also see: Quotes About Mental Aspects of Running
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