Whether you’re picking up running to lose weight and improve fitness levels, boost your mental health, or run an event, as with anything it can be difficult to add a new daily routine into the mix. It’s easy to set out with good intentions to start a healthy new habit, but the challenge is making it stick. If you’ve wanted to turn the occasional run into a regular activity, we’ve compiled our best advice and tips for how to make running a habit.
FOLLOW A TRAINING PLAN
Seek out a beginner’s training plan to guide you through getting started and help ensure you don’t over-train by attempting too much too soon. Starting with the run-walk method in the first few weeks is a great way to ease into a routine. Gradually building up is the best way to avoid experiencing burn-out right from the start.
Becoming a runner is much easier when you make running part of a daily routine. Try to take 15 minutes each Sunday to sit down and prepare a training schedule. Consider choosing the routes you’ll take and type of run you’ll do. Adding your runs to a calendar will help hold yourself more accountable for when you’re going to run. If you know you’re working late or have certain obligations on some days, plan for success by planning ahead.
SET SMALL GOALS
A good key is to focus only on the workout at hand and take things one step at a time. Set small attainable goals every week so you have something tangible to work towards when the going gets tough. For instance, running just 5 minutes more on your next run. Setting good running habits in the long-term will gradually come from reaching those small goals. Remember where you’re going and use your smaller targets to help you along. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to feel like progress is slow. Keep your head up, trust the process, keep striving for those goals and remember, “a short run is better than none”.
GIVE YOURSELF A CHALLENGE
One of the most powerful ways to find self-motivation for running is to commit to participating in an event. Your daily runs will feel that much more important when you’re preparing yourself for race day. Start with an achievable goal to work towards like a couch to 5k. Check a local running calendar to find an event right for you and register for it.
Or consider trying another substantial goal like a run every day challenge. It doesn’t have to be a great distance - maybe just 2km - but this is a great way to quickly make running part of your daily routine.
There’s nothing that will keep you moving forward like looking back at how far you’ve already come. Seeing incremental gains will help push you to keep going. Use a run tracking app and follow along with the progress you’ve made so that you can learn from what you’ve accomplished and use it to get excited about what’s next.
Seeing change requires time and consistency, and every little thing adds up, so don’t be disheartened if your progress feels slow or daunting. Every day, every run, every training session gives you an opportunity to practice the habits that will get you a step closer to any goals you may have.
JOIN A RUN CLUB
Use the motivation of others to help keep you on track by joining a running club or heading out with friends to enjoy the social benefits of running and gain support from others. Making plans to meet for a run will also help hold you accountable by sticking to a schedule. You’ll find the running community is extremely supportive and there are a plethora of people ready to help you along the way.
DON’T LET A BAD RUN GET YOU DOWN
We all have them, the ones where our legs feel heavy, or mentally we just aren’t feeling it. One bad run does not mean all runs will feel that way. Persist and stick with it. Also, the chances are your first few runs may feel awful, but it does get easier. Remember, whatever your running or even fitness-related goals are, it won’t happen instantly, or in a week or probably not even in a month. It takes time and perseverance to reach those running goals.
CELEBRATE THE LITTLE VICTORIES
Ran 5kms without walking? Pat yourself on the back, mate. We can’t emphasize this enough - rewarding yourself for doing well is an important way to encourage the creation of a new habit. Right after a run treat yourself to something you enjoy like a nice hot shower, healthy smoothie, or another favorite snack. As always, run for fun and it’s impossible to go wrong.
Remember, you don’t have to be athletic or in shape to become a runner. All you need is the motivation to put on your shoes and get out the door. Whether you want to lose a few pounds or prove to yourself it’s possible to do anything you set your mind to; you can become a runner as long as you’re willing to take that first step.
So what are you waiting for? Take that first step. Become a runner today.