Every year, when the clock strikes midnight on January 1, millions of people vow to be better: spend more time with friends and family, work less, and get organized. One of the most popular resolutions is to exercise more, which includes running. This article will look at how to make your New Year’s running resolutions permanent.
A running habit can start out great but by March or April, many people have given up. Luckily, there are a number of tips that can help you stick to your running resolutions, whether it is running more often, improving your form, or finally finishing a marathon.
I will be covering some of these running resolution tips to help you become one step closer to keeping your New Year’s goals.
Slow and Steady Wins the New Year’s Resolution
The first tip to help you stick to your running resolutions is to start slow. A lot of people think that they need to run five miles right from the get-go or start running every day, but this can lead to injury, especially if you have never run before.
The best thing to do is to start small, even beginning with walking and then increasing speed to a light jog. Try to run for one minute first, then increase it to two minutes. There is no shame in taking walking breaks either!
Another important thing to remember is to stretch and warm up before starting any sort of running. This keeps the body flexible and prepares the muscles for activity. During periods of sitting, the body’s muscles are shortened, so stretching allows the muscles to lengthen again.
Find a Running Buddy
The famous proverb “misery loves company” was first uttered by a character in a play by Christopher Marlow called “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.” While running may not be a “miserable” activity for some, for others it can be a struggle. Having someone else to run with you can make things more fun and enjoyable.
There are a lot of ways to find a running buddy:
- Join a running club. A lot of sports stores have running days and there are a lot of national organizations that host events, such as the Road Runners Club of America (I am an RRCA certified running coach).
- Post on social media. Thanks to social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it is easier than ever to ask around if someone in the area wants to go for a run with you. There are likely groups or organizations that you can follow that can connect you with other like-minded people.
- Run in public areas. A lot of places, like parks and beaches, have great areas for runners. If you decide to start running regularly in the same place, the higher the chance that you will start to see the same people and maybe strike up a friendship.
Having a running buddy holds you accountable for the days when you want to skip exercise. They can also make the activity a lot more fun since you will have someone to talk to, joke with, or just catch up with in life.
Related: 12 Ideal Qualities To Look For In A Running Buddy
Make Reasonable Goals
One of the main reasons people give up on their running resolutions is because they set very lofty goals. While telling yourself that you will run a marathon in six months sounds impressive, it can feel overwhelming.
Many running experts suggest making measurable and attainable goals. You can aim to run a marathon but make smaller goals that lead up to the marathon. For example, try increasing your running distance every week by a mile. In this way, it does not seem like a huge increase.
It also helps to get as specific as possible. “Running more every week” is vague and does help with running resolutions; however, saying something like, “I will run an additional two minutes every week” is something that you can explicitly track.
Related: 15 Ways To Help Improve Your Mental Strength To Keep Running Consistently
Progress Reports Are Your Friend
While a progress report sounds dry and boring, it can actually help a lot when it comes to sticking to your running resolutions. It is encouraging to see the progress that you make, even if it does not seem like a lot.
You can create a progress journal, either virtually or physically. There are also several great running apps that can create very detailed reports that include things like exact distances, pace, and even heart rate. Some apps will even reward users with coupons or prizes for reaching certain goals.
Add some excitement to a progress report or journal by writing about other things you observed or felt while on the run. Psychologists have found that journaling (even if it is about something as simple as exercise) can help people sort out their emotions and negative thoughts, which are likely to come up if they are struggling to get into a running routine.
Consistency is Key
A challenging part of exercising is to keep doing it. Consistency is what gets you into a habit, but when it comes to running, many people end up being inconsistent. Try to plan your runs on the same day around the same time. The more you do this, the less likely it will be for you to brush aside running.
Studies have found that setting aside a time to be your “running time” helps people plan around running rather than the other way around. Healthline has found that it takes about 66 days for a habit to become automatic, so the more you stick to a regular running schedule in the beginning, the more likely it is that your running goals will stick around.
Another part of this tip is to plan things consistently that are not running. For example, you could have a scheduled day off or treat yourself to something special every time you run three times in a week. This conditions your brain to associate positive things with running.
Related: Half Marathon Motivation – How To Finish A Half Marathon
Do Not Ignore Your Body
This is important to remember: listen to your body! If you feel pain, exhaustion, or just not well, do not push yourself to continue running. Your body responds to its environment and ignoring signs to take a rest can result in injury and a lack of motivation to continue running.
Get out of the mindset that you are a failure if you can not push through the pain. Having days of rest does not equal being lazy; instead, resting allows the body to recover and repair itself so when you start exercising again, you will be at full capacity.
Feeling pain evolved so humans could survive. If someone is injured, they are more likely to fall victim to predators; it is essentially survival of the fittest. Pain means that something is off and it needs to be remedied.
Related: How You Identify With Yourself Will Determine Whether You Will Stick With A Habit – Long Term
This tip essentially means incorporating other exercises besides running into your routine. Sure, your New Year’s resolution might be specifically relevant to running but by only running, you are working the same muscles and joints over and over. This is the reason why so many runners have knee and shin problems.
Many athletes will include other strength and flexibility training in their running routines. This keeps muscles and joints strong and limber, which can prevent injuries when running. They will also include other aerobic activities like biking, which gives the knees a break.
Another easy way to add variety to running is to run in different areas. Change of scenery can make a huge difference, as can running on different surfaces, such as sand or grass. This keeps things interesting and is better at engaging your mind in the activity.
Even though this is a simple tip, it is one of the hardest to actually follow. Self-kindness is sorely lacking in humans, mainly because we are our own worst critics. Society says that we need to be perfect, so anything less is frowned upon.
Running can make someone especially vulnerable to self-criticism. We didn’t run far enough, hard enough, or long enough. This can sabotage running resolutions though. Instead, you should aim to remind yourself that progress takes time and it is fine to have off days.
The last tip is to reward yourself for working towards your running goals and not just for accomplishing something big. Finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment but it is important to reward yourself with something nice for the smaller goals you reach in between.
Whether it is a massage, a nice dinner, or maybe a new pair of running shoes, rewards keep you motivated and looking forward to something.
Sticking to New Year’s resolutions, especially running resolutions, are challenging but not impossible to make permanent. Most people go about reaching their running goals by pressuring themselves to be the best but that often results in the opposite effect.
With some dedication, patience, and some rewards to look forward to, this year is sure to bring your running resolutions to fruition. So lace up those running shoes and hit the pavement!
Related: Further Reading – How To Make Running A Habit! – 15 Ways To Transform Loathe Into Love
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