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What's the best way to make running a habit?

25 Apr, 2019 • by Admin

Go as many days in a row you can. The more days you score a run, the faster the habit sets in, the faster you’ll look better.

Once you’re doing it regularly, running is extremely rewarding. In addition to checking the exercise box for the day, running is therapeutic and great way to get some alone time, or to nurture a friendship or relationship if you prefer to run with someone.

So how do we get there? How do we make running a habit? Below are some crucial tips that helped me learn how to run properly and stick to a running program, which builds the habit that now feels like a total privilege.

Even though we humans are creatures of habits, the truth is that developing and maintaining healthy habits—especially the running habit—is no easy feat. But no worries. Today you’re going to learn some valuable lessons to help you turn your existing running routine into a habit. Are you excited? Here we go…

Set your intention

Habits are formed when new neural pathways in your brain are created--pathways that transform running from something you try to do, into something that often feels automatic. The process for clearing these pathways varies for each of us.

The most common resolutions made each year are to exercise, lose weight, and get in shape. Whether the resolution is made on January 1 or when we think of warm weather and swim suits, the result is often the same. We start with good intentions and within a few weeks we are back to our old routine, and have stopped running.

Now that we’re aiming to make running a habit and to truly reap its benefits, we need to know why we’re doing it. More specifically, we need to make sure we’re not running for the wrong reasons.

Start small

Most people who start a running program sabotage their new resolution by running too much too soon. This is the wrong approach, and a recipe for disaster. It will only lead to injury, severe burnout, and unneeded resentment. you must start with an extremely manageable and realistic goal and work up from there.

Starting small—like opting for the walk-run method, or just doing a short run around the block—will make running easy to stick to in your first few weeks. This can make or break your running resolution. “A short run is better than none” is one of my favorite affirmations, and it usually gets me out the door when I’m running low on willpower and motivation. This mantra resonates even more with beginner runners.

Whatever you want to achieve—whether it’s losing 20 pounds, running a 10K, or just being able to jog for 20-minutes without losing your breath—make sure your goal is realistic and small.

Mix it up.

One thing I like about triathlon training is that daily exercise isn’t boring — instead of running every single day, now I’ve got a variety of sports to do, and that makes it much more interesting. But perhaps just as important is that with each sport, I’m using different muscles, especially with swimming. Sure, some of the same muscles are used, but they’re used differently with different stresses on them.

What that means is that I’m not pounding the same muscles, every day. That gives them a chance to recover, because without recovery, you’re just breaking your muscles down over and over.

Missing a day is okay.

Research support the notion that even taking a couple of weeks off, you will not lose much fitness. While I do not recommend this when you’re just getting started, it’s important to know. Consistency is important, but you have my permission to miss workouts and feel okay with it. Get back on the horse soon again though.

Make it pleasurable.

If you associate a habit with pain, you will shy away from it. But if it’s fun, you’ll look forward to doing it. That’s why, in this beginning stage of my new habit, I’ve been focusing on pleasure. I go slowly, enjoying the scenery, the fresh morning air, the beautiful sky as the sun rises, the quiet time of solitude and contemplation. It’s actually something I enjoy doing. An mp3 player with some great music helps.

Train for a race.

Running for exercise is one thing. Training for something bigger than any one run, something that right now might seem downright impossible, is an entirely different experience. And it happens to be my favorite part of running.

Not everyone likes having goals, and not everyone likes racing. But even if you don’t care about how long it takes you to finish (“race” is a misleading term), training to run a certain distance can be what reveals the runner you never knew was inside you.

So once you’ve achieved a basic level of comfort with running (enough that you think you’ll stick with it), consider what signing up for a race and committing to a training plan to get you there would do for your motivation level. If it gives you butterflies just to imagine crossing that finish line, you know you’re onto something.

Plan It Right

If you plan your workouts like you plan meetings or play dates, you’ll be able to find time to get them in. “Sit down at the beginning of each week and put your runs into your calendar.

  • Be flexible: Even if you don’t have the entire hour you planned to devote to running, get out for as long as you can
  • Be prepared: Lay out your running clothes the night before a run if you plan to run early in the morning, or pack your running shoes and a change of clothes if you plan to run at work
  • Be open: Let others know about your goals, and seek their support. Ask a spouse, parents, friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to help so that you can carve out time for your training, and honor your commitment.

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