How to develop a running habit

We have noticed a larger than normal number of ‘new’ runners out recently. This could be a sign of spring, the “marathon effect” where runners start after a large race in town, or perhaps we were so bundled up all winter we could not see them. For whatever the reason, we hope these ‘new’ runners keep at it.

Here are some tips for developing a new running habit or sticking with/renewing an old one.

-Set aside and plan a regular time each day to run. Morning works best for many as obligations, fatigue and responsibilities tend to pile up as the day goes on.

-Set a goal, like trying not to miss a day for a week, or training for a race. Make it a little goal you can achieve, like just getting out the door. Have a whole list of goals for each run, starting with getting out the door. Thus, your run will be a double “success” even if all you do is get out the door. (1: you got out the door and 2: you ran another day.)

That said, run for the run itself, not for the results.

-Make a commitment, to yourself, and also tell others about it.

-Get a training partner, human or canine. Come to the Wed night runs.

-Start small. Go slowly, walking is ok, and don’t set distance goals (go for time not distance for runs). Even if you feel bad or have little time, plan to get out the door and just try it for 15-20 minutes. Just getting out the door should be an inviolate rule, unless you have serious injuries or illness.

-View running and each run itself as a new reward. It will be something selfish that you are indulging in just for yourself and your own personal luxurious benefit. Running will be a soothing, empowering thing.

-Reward yourself for meeting intermediate goals. Something on the order of “I will get _____ (a long hot bath, a massage, a new pair of socks, a good exotic healthy meal, a hot spring visit, a new pair of shoes, or etc) if I run _____(every day this week, every day for 2 weeks, for over 2 hours total time during this week, or etc.)”

-Only plan on doing what you can do now. Today is today and it is not where you will be a year from now, or where you were 1,5, 10 or 20 years ago. Don’t expect anything more than just living in the moment and experiencing the run.

-Keep it simple. If you can find an acceptable route to run from your home do it. You are more likely to run if it does not involve a production

-Find out what you like, and do not try to fit into the mold of someone else’s program.

For example, some people thrive on the same place, pace and time/distance each day. Others like to mix things up. Experiment with both.

-Plan to commit to sticking with this new running thing for 21 days. Studies show that this is how long it usually takes to develop a habit. Odds are that you will like it, feel better, and want to continue running long before that.