If you’re new here, you can read Step #1, Step #2, and Step #3.

Now that you’ve been running a few times, you know a little more about your body and what you can do. You know that you can make yourself do more than you thought you could a month ago, and you know that you like how it makes you feel. You can visualize yourself running and loving it. Now it’s time to have some fun.

I love running, but it can get pretty boring. In the mornings, I run starting at my house, and since I’m only running 15 minutes at a time this week, I can only go for 7 minutes before I have to turn around and head home. I don’t have more time, so I can’t get in the car and drive somewhere interesting. I save that for Saturdays, when I run a longer run. All week, I run my puny little runs thinking how fun it will be on Saturday, when I can go to a nearby park or forest. Sometimes I just run into the neighborhood just west of us, where there are “houses” that belong to families you would have to marry into to ever be able to live there, and the family you married into would have to be the Darcy family, because you would never be able to afford a house like that on the income of a mere mortal. I affectionately call that neighborhood “Darcyville.” There are black swans at one of the homes. I mean, they are at the lake.

Anyway, the weekday runs are the practice time. They’re sort of like those times tables you did in the third grade, the full page 1×1= 1×2= 1×3= etc., etc. You need to practice before you can do the really fun stuff. And you think of the fun stuff to keep you motivated to do the mundane stuff, or the painful stuff, or the butt-freezing stuff. I once asked my dad (an ultra-runner who does 50-milers in the summer) how he gets himself to run in the bitter cold of central Utah in the winter. He said, “I just think of all the fun things I’m going to be able to do in the summer.”

So this week, plan a fun run on the weekend that you can look forward to. If you live near the mountains, and they are not covered in snow, consider finding a trail to run on. Trail running is so very much better than road running, and you can run twice as far as you think you are able, because the ground is easier on your legs, the scenery is so pretty, and you can forget that you are running. I used to run on the Provo River Trail, which starts at Vivian Park and goes all the way to Utah Lake. I think it’s about 15 miles, so you can get a lot of variation by starting at a different point every week. It’s paved, so it’s not quite as nice as a dirt trail, but it’s still pretty. Here in Ohio, I’ve found a couple of trails that are fun.

You can also make different goals for your weekday runs. You may like to alternate hard days with easy days. For example, if your hard days are Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and you run for 10 minutes total on those days (maybe you run it in one shot, or maybe you alternate running at a moderate pace with walking), then on Tuesday and Friday, you could run an easy 5 minutes, really slowly, or even have a good long walk for your easy day. Sometimes it helps if you have some days when you can just run without thinking, and you know it’s not going to be hard, but you still need to do something.

So where are you going to run this week?

Next, Running Bonus Tip