So you want to be a runner, but every time you try to make it a consistent part of your routine, it never seems to stick? The excuses crop up, the lungs burn, the legs drag, and the motivation stays low. Running is like any good relationship. It takes time, commitment, and patience. Especially when you are starting out in this new relationship with running, it is likely that your runs will not feel like the most natural thing. Here are 5 hacks to help get you not only consistently lace up your shoes, but actually enjoying the process.
One of the best ways to actually ensure that you get your weekly runs in is by planning out when and how much you will run. Think of your runs as important work meetings. Create a calendar event, write them into your planner, place a sticky note on the refrigerator, set an alert on your phone. Whatever it takes to ensure that you actually get out the door to run at the day and time you committed to. It becomes so much easier to follow through if before the week gets started, you have a clear plan with the mileage you need to hit each day to hit your weekly mileage goal. It is also really important to plan out the day or days you will not be running. Be intentional with these days off. Use these days off as recovery to help your body feel fully rested the next day you go out for your run.
You have your run scheduled, but when you wake up, your motivation is feeling especially low. Then what? Try to plan ahead for this by setting out running shoes at the door, compression leg sleeves and all your running clothes out the night before. While a small act, this intentional choice of putting out shoes and running clothing, can actually help get you out the door. Especially if you are getting up early to fit your run in or even if you are squeezing it in after a long day of work, it makes it so much harder to turn down a run when everything you need is neatly laid out before you. Similarly to hack #1, the more you can plan and prepare ahead of time, the less likely all the excuses in your mind will win.
While some love to run solo, finding a running group, club, team or even just one other person is a great way to keep you accountable. Running can be a great way to not only be healthy, but it can also be a great way to build community and socialize. You don’t need to be an elite runner to join a club or team. There are clubs and teams all over that accept all experience levels and paces. Even if it is not feasible to find people to run with, you should still find people that can be invested in your running goals. Let close family and friends know your goals and ask them to keep you accountable. It is so much easier to conquer challenges when you have a tribe of people behind you.
Running is a relatively low investment sport. It doesn’t take much to start running. All you really need is running shoes. However, not all shoes are created equally. It is important to invest in good running shoes for your specific foot. It is easy to just buy the shoes you see in ads, but that might not be the best fit for you. It can be helpful to buy your running shoes at a specific running store. The people working there will likely have much more running-specific knowledge when it comes to choosing a shoe. There are even certain running stores, like Road Runner, that have treadmills within the store. They will analyze your running form for free and help figure out the best shoe for you. Along with taking the time and money to invest in the right shoes, there are tools, like the Garmin that are worth considering as well. This running watch can help you reach your running goals by tracking pace, distance, and heart rate. The newer models have even fancier features of syncing with other training apps and scheduling out runs. The main benefit with running with a Garmin, is that you have a log of distance and pace. This can become a very helpful tool to help goal set and also demonstrate your progress as you start running longer and faster.
Your runs will quickly take a turn for the worse if you have not properly fueled and hydrated before and after the run. It is a balance of figuring out what works for your specific body before a run. Sometimes it takes trial and error. While you don’t want to eat anything too heavy before runs, you also don’t want to run on a fully empty stomach. Figure out what works best for your body. Try the basics: bars, toast, oatmeal, and PB&Js are typically good pre-run foods. Avoid certain foods that are rougher on your stomach. Try avoiding super fibrous foods. Give yourself at least an hour after eating before you run. After your runs, have a plan to ensure you get protein to your body within 30 minutes of your run. The better recovery you allow your body to have post-run, the better future runs will feel. Keeping a water bottle on you throughout the day and a bar handy are two easy ways to ensure you are fueling your body.
When it comes down to it, all these things can help, but the thing with running is that it is ultimately up to you. You need to find your own reason and your own internal motivation that keeps you stepping out the door, lacing up your shoes, and pushing yourself to be better than the day before. There will be days where running will be the last thing you want to do. It is on these days that making the choice to actually run will be the most important. Keep choosing to step out the door. Keep logging the miles. Keep returning even when your muscles are sore. It won’t happen overnight, but slowly and gradually, as you keep saying yes to your runs, you will develop a rhythm. Your body will come to crave your runs. You will eventually get to a place where running is not an obligation, but a necessity that brings you clarity and ultimately makes your life better. Stick with it. It is worth it.
Kelli Capel is a Cross-Country Athlete with WCC All-Academic Honorable mention from LMU.
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