As many lifelong runners can attest, running sometimes feels like the worst on-again, off-again relationship. While we all go through seasons where our running routine is less than ideal, choosing to commit to your running habit is one of the best decisions you can make. Creating a personal habit of running can take time. Follow these 6 easy to implement tips below to help you make running a habit!
Perhaps the hardest part of starting (or rediscovering) your running habit is being content with being a beginner. It can be frustrating to get started when you are remembering the miles and long runs from long ago. While those memories of your previous performance are important when setting goals for yourself, they are not encouraging when developing a new habit.
Though it may seem elementary, you can easily make running a habit by challenging yourself to simply move daily. Whether your movement is a short jog, a stress-relieving long run or a hilly hike, moving your body daily is instrumental in creating and eventually sticking to a habit of running. Some days you will feel up for longer, more challenging runs, while other days will leave you craving a mild, low-impact walk. Choosing to stay in motion, regardless of your circumstances, is a foundational mindset to creating a successful running habit.
Every runner chooses to lace up for their own reasons. While no two runners have identical experiences, it is their shared goal of running that will keep them moving forward. Before you head out on your run, take time to reflect on why you are choosing to run in the first place. It could be for your health, for stress reduction, for fun, or to challenge yourself—whatever the case, being clear on your internal why will carry you through hard runs and early mornings better than any external motivation!
Once you clarify your reason for creating a running habit, set a goal for yourself and (literally) chase after it! There are many great, free apps that you can download on your phone that help keep track of your running streak, distance covered, and other performance-based goals. If you tend to be more socially influenced, consider joining a local running club or group. These groups will offer not only the social aspect you desire, but can help hold you accountable.
Another great goal to fuel your running habit is signing up for a race. Registering for a race, whether it be a local 5K or a fun destination race, is a great way to create a habit of running. Training often requires a following a strict schedule to optimally prepare you for future race day success. A training schedule also serves as a great accountability tool and can keep you on track to creating your habit of running!
The idea of being comfortable while running may seem contradictory, but it is critical in establishing a good and reliable routine. While individual runs can vary in their difficulty for a multitude of reasons, selecting comfortable gear can help make those hard runs a little more tolerable!
Perhaps the most important place to begin is with your shoes. Selecting a good pair of running shoes is instrumental in determining the success of your running habit. Since no two runners have the same type of needs, drop into your local running store and have an expert help find the right shoe for you. Working with an expert will ensure you are in a shoe that not only fits and supports your unique gait, stride, and foot strike, but also your overall running goal.
Once you have found your dream shoe, take time to find running clothes that will help you get through the miles in style. Though may be tempting to drop tons of money on expensive running gear, remember it is less about the brand than it is the fit and durability of the clothes you purchase. Having a dependable pair of leggings or shorts will help cut back on any uncomfortable chafing that can seriously impede on your newfound running habit.
There is arguably nothing that will disrupt your new running habit quite like worrying about whether or not your route or new routine is safe. Before you begin, start by driving through the neighborhoods or areas that you plan to run. This will give you not only an idea of the route, but also any potholes or other dangerous spaces that you will want to avoid.
If you are a nighttime or early morning runner, invest in tights or shorts with reflective seams to ensure your safety while in the dark. You may even consider purchasing a head lamp or additional reflective gear to make sure that you can clearly see where you are running, and oncoming vehicles can see you.
Another great way to ensure your safety while running is to know the rules of the road when it comes to runners. If you are running on the road, stay on the shoulder and run in the direction of oncoming traffic. While this may seem counterintuitive, it is actually safer as you are able to see cars coming and adjust accordingly, rather than cars coming up on you from behind.
One of the best ways to ensure that your new running habit sticks is to optimize your nutrition. As a runner, what you eat and drink matters! What you choose to put into your body can either fuel your habit and help you improve or can severely impact your success. A good place to start is by prioritizing your daily water intake. Aim to increase the amount of water you drink as this will not only help your training, but will improve your overall health.
For meals, begin to incorporate one or two more servings of fruits and vegetables into each meal. Fruits and vegetables contain important nutrients that can help with muscle recovery as well as provide energy for your next run.
Equally important to your hydration and nutrition is your sleep routine! Nothing makes maintaining a good running habit harder than feeling tired and worn out. Aim to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours a night or challenge yourself to go to bed half an hour earlier than normal. Establishing a great sleep routine will help provide the energy you need to stick with your equally important running habit!
It should come as no surprise to you that every runner’s routine is different. What is important is to create one that works for you and your current goals. Do not worry about comparing yourself to other runners you see out and about! Simply find the distance, pace, and place that works for you and commit to it daily.
Regardless of whether you love long sunrise runs, treadmills sprints, or your favorite lunchtime loop, begin each run with a quick and simple warm up to prepare your muscles for action. After you finish your run, take time to cool down, slow your heart rate and stretch your muscles. These small steps will help to prevent injury and make your runs easier and more enjoyable!
Finally, find the time that is best for you and your daily life. Not everyone is the type to roll out of bed and head out the door, so do not stress if early morning running is not for you. Instead, find the time of day that fits into your schedule that you can commit to. While life gets busy and you may have to rearrange your runs from time to time, carving out a specific time for your run will make help your habit sustainable and enjoyable!