Note: this post was originally written by me for Run Farther and Faster blog.
Some weeks can be particularly chaotic, consistent with the regular ups and downs of life. Needless to say, the moments of stress do not inspire me to lace up my running shoes and head out for a run. However, there have been workouts where I set out feeling down, but returned home afterward flowing with energy, with a clear mindset and perspective, and a more positive attitude. During these runs, I could feel my outlook change as my Garmin beeped at each mile marker. I was so thankful that I had chosen to run, mostly because it has become a habit of mine.
There are many ways to manage the rollercoasters of life- whether it be sitting back, breathing through your frustrations and letting the anger or sadness pass via meditation, or more proactively working against the angst through active pursuits such as running or another favorite form of exercise. Everyone can benefit from habitually getting outside and being active in some way on both emotionally down days as well as those feel-good days. You won’t ever regret regularly spending some of your valuable time participating in a mind-clearing activity such as running- you will only regret not doing it.
PC: @meredithmckee @Wanderlust
Here are a few tips that have helped me make running a habit (and for more tips, check out these suggestions from coaches Lisa and Julie in Runners World:
- Follow a running plan. Closely adhering to a set plan is the best way to stay on track. Even better, hire a coach to design a plan that meets your particular goals, ensure that you are training smart to achieve your goals and avoid injury, and who will help keep you accountable. Here is an example of my Phoenix marathon training schedule generated by coaches Lisa and Julie of RFF:
- Make an appointment. Treat your run like an appointment and set aside time in your busy day for exercise. On days when time is extremely limited, consider heading out for just a few minutes, which is always better than no run at all.
- Run regularly. Consistency is key for habit-building! While you’ll want to make sure you give yourself at least one day a week for recovery with no running at all, you should aim to get into a regular weekly schedule of runs. On days when you feel you are just too tired, head out and apply the ten minute test—if, after ten minutes, you cannot get in a groove, give yourself permission to stop. Most of the time, you will find that after ten minutes, your groove will appear, and your desire to stop will subside.
- Run first thing in the morning. This can take some planning and action, especially if you are not naturally a morning person or if you’re often up late at night. Morning runs require going to bed earlier as well as preparation the night before such as laying out clothes and gear so you’re ready to dive in at an early hour. Stay tuned for a future post on this!
- Make running fun. Running with other runners and friends, exploring new routes to vary up the scenery, buying a new running outfit and shoes or making a great playlist or purchasing some new music or download fresh podcasts are a few suggestions to make running more enjoyable.
- Get the appropriate go-to gear. Along the lines of treating yourself to some new running clothes and gear, make sure that they fit well, particularly your shoes, so that you’re running comfortably. For first-time purchases, go to a local running store for shoe and gear sizing. This will save you time, money, and pain!
- Check in a month from now. Know that habits take time and patience. Allow yourself some flexibility. Sure, you want to be dedicated in your running routine. But do not get too worried when you miss or cut short a run or two.
Making running or another favorite form of exercise routine a habit is one way to maximize your happiness. What are some ways in which you have made exercise a habit?