Everyone knows that running is a great habit to get into, and it can be very beneficial for your health to become a runner. However, knowing that isn’t always enough to get you to put on your trainers; you need a bit of momentum to get going, and then you need an extra push to keep yourself training even when it’s tough.
How do you turn running from an occasional “if I have to?” that peters out after a while into a proper, fixed pattern you can work with? Here’s the answer to how to make running a habit? 15 ways to turn your loathe into a habit.
Tip 0: (The most important tip) – set your expectations realistically low
Yes, I said realistically low. One of the biggest problems with trying to create new habits is that we all have the notion that habit formation only takes 21 days to form a new habit….this is incorrect!
“…if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days” 1
“On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.” 1
What happens when you set your running habit expectation too high?
- You shoot at your goal
- You miss your target goal, date, or both thus not forming the new running habit
- you give up and may never try to run again
When you reach for a goal that is unobtainable, you’re reaching into the zone of disillusionment, in other words, unachievable expectations for the current version of yourself. I want you to take up the running habit, easily and slowly, for the rest of your life, even if it takes 10 weeks to form the running habit. (Why is running so hard – a deeper dive)
Tip 1: Track Your Progress
A great way to make yourself feel responsible for your progress and keep going even when it seems hard is to keep a written record of how much running you do on a weekly basis.
Whenever you’re struggling to keep up your running or you feel like “just skipping a day” too many days in a row, you may find this helps you to hold yourself accountable and gets you back on track.
Having a sense of what you have achieved so far can make it easier to say “yes” on difficult days, and can also make you feel your running has more of a point, adding up to a goal that is constantly building.
Make notes on your improvement, and reward yourself when you meet certain milestones. Keeping track of your progress is a great way to make a habit stick.
Tip 2: Have A Schedule
It’s very easy to get out of the habit of doing something if you don’t have a specific schedule to hold yourself to. Make yourself a running schedule, build in other kinds of exercise to keep things interesting, and try to stick to it.
It’s okay to miss the odd day; your schedule doesn’t need to be treated as hard and fast, especially if you are busy, but it will help you stay on track and may make it easier to realize when you’re missing out on a lot of runs. You can then readjust your priorities to make more time for them.
Tip 3: Get The Right Gear
Really good running gear makes a lot of difference to helping the habit stick, especially if you live somewhere with a lot of wet weather. Having waterproof gear, or gear that is comfortable in heat (think breathable mesh clothing) can make your runs much more comfortable.
Feeling good while you run will make it a lot easier to go running regularly. This is also true of your shoes; make sure your running shoes offer good support and feel very comfortable on your feet. You may want to get a specialist to fit your shoes for you.
Tip 4: Make Your Language Positive
You can drastically alter your feelings about something by changing how you talk about it. It might feel insignificant to say things like “running is hard work” and “I don’t feel like it,” but you might be surprised by what a difference this approach makes.
Try using positive phrases about running instead, and talk about how much you like it.
Tip 5: Change Your Running Route
Are you struggling to keep up your running because you’re bored? Try changing your route. Even if you have to drive, choose a really nice place to run at least once in a while. This can make running feel more interesting and less monotonous.
Tip 6: Sign Up For A Challenge
Signing up for a running challenge can make you feel accountable for your running. If you are able to, get a friend or family member involved with you, so you can encourage each other.
Most challenges will give you mini-goals to work toward and these will help to give you a boost and make you feel like you’re making progress. You don’t have to choose a hard challenge, and you could come up with your own if none of the standard ones appeal to you.
Tip 7: Take Rest Days
Having a habit does not mean you have to do it every day. It just means you have to do it most days. Taking rest days is actually a great way to return to the sport feeling refreshed and enthusiastic, so do not be afraid to say “no” to running occasionally, or to build rest days into your schedule.
Like anything, running can become boring if you do it too much. Taking a short break is a good way to revitalize your enthusiasm and make you miss the best parts of running.
Tip 8: Go For A Short Run
If you don’t feel like running, make a compromise; just go for a short run. Sometimes, once you’re out there, you’ll find you actually enjoy it and you’re happy to go the normal distance. Sometimes, you’ll just be glad to stop – but either way, you will have completed a run and you’ll feel good.
This can be a great strategy if you’re having a lot of days where you feel unenthusiastic, but you don’t want to give up on running. Ease up a bit, make your training more enjoyable, and you’ll find it easier to sustain the habit.
Tip 9: Think About Later
Some people find that thinking “how will I feel when I go to bed if I don’t run?” is a great incentive to get themselves moving. You know you won’t regret a run once it’s over, and taking this attitude can be a great method for building the habit.
It’s also okay to reward yourself for running after you’ve finished. If you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to make this a non-food-related reward (though you don’t have to), but doing something nice is a great way to ensure that running feels satisfying – and that’s important for making a habit stick.
Tip 10: Get A Running Buddy
This one can backfire if your friend proves a lot less enthusiastic than you are, but it’s certainly worth trying. Running with someone will change your focus and make running about socialization as well as exercise.
It can also be a great way to feel less self-conscious about running, and to keep it up; you can both inspire each other when your motivation levels are low. Make agreements and hold each other to them, and also be prepared to step in if you think your friend is training too hard. They will hopefully do the same for you.
Tip 11: Be Organized
Think about this like any other task; if you have to go to work on Monday, do you make sure you have your work clothes ready the night before? It’s even more important with running; if you have to spend an hour searching for your shoes and clothes, you are much less likely to actually get out and run.
Specify a place where you keep your running gear and be strict about putting it away. Schedule a slot in your day so that other things won’t get in the way. The organization is key to making running a regular part of your life.
Tip 12: Don’t Increase Too Fast
You might feel that once running is a habit, you ought to be able to keep increasing and increasing. While it is true to a degree, treat your body with respect and be realistic. You can’t always be looking to improve your speed and cover more ground.
You will find that your runs plateau at a certain point and while you may set new goals and keep changing your approach, you aren’t going to keep seeing massive improvements.
Tip 13: Listen To Music
Make yourself some running playlists with songs you love and only listen to them while you’re running. These will serve as a sort of mini reward for running and will keep you inspired.
You can also change the playlist as a way of bringing a bit of freshness to your runs. Audiobooks are a great option too, especially if you get into a series and only allow yourself to listen while running.
Tip 14: Set A Time
If you have a hectic schedule, this may be impractical – but it might also be even more important, or you may find you never have time to run. Choose a time of day to run, and try to stick to it. Morning runs are popular as then the run is completed before other things have a chance to interfere, and it also leaves evenings free.
The time might vary according to the day of the week (perhaps evenings are more practical at weekends?), but try to have a particular running time.
Tip 15: Keep It Up
That might sound obvious, but habits take a long time to form – usually about eight weeks. Make yourself hit the eight-week mark, and you will probably find that running has simply become part of life.
Getting into the habit of running is not easy, but it is worthwhile. Try to reward yourself and make running feel as good as possible to help the habit stick. Remember that endorphins will kick in after about five minutes of running, so if you can just get past the five-minute mark, it should get easier!
|Help support me and subscribe to my YouTube channel.
YouTube video - 30 ways to make your runs less painful!
Coach Scott's Credentials:
To sign up for a FREE half marathon training schedule, log sheet, and pace predictor CLICK HERE.
Connect with me: