Looking to make running a daily habit?
Then you’re in the right place.
Running can become automatic, as easy as brushing your teeth.
However, getting to this point does not happen overnight. In fact, it takes a bit of smart planning (and a lot of work!).
And truth be told, it’s never easy to convince yourself to run when the rest of your life might be running out of your control (busy schedule anyone?).
But fret no more. Today I got you covered.
How Beginners Can Turn Running Into A Healthy Habit
Here are some simple strategies that can make it easier to make running, or any other exercise, a lasting habit.
1. Start Slow
When embarking on the fitness path, you’ll never go wrong by going slow. That I cannot emphasize enough—regardless of your chosen sport and your fitness background.
So, when you’re trying to establish a new running habit, it’s never a good idea to commit too much from the get-go.
Trying to run 30 miles the first week can only lead to one place: failure, whether it’s in the form of pain, injury, or a soul-crushing burnout.
Instead, start with a routine that’s so easy that you can do it even when every cell in your body (and everyone you know) says otherwise.
So, for instance, if you have your mind set on running three to four miles a session, run two miles, and build it gradually.
In other words, when it comes to setting running goals, do less than you think you can. Then, over time, slowly increase your total training duration.
For beginner runners plans, check these posts:
2. Plan Ahead of Time
Failing to plan is planning to fail, as the saying goes.
By the same token, make sure to plan, down to the letter, your weekly and monthly running schedule.
In fact, regardless of your running and fitness goals, you’d need to come up with a personalized running plan that makes sense for your current fitness level and lifestyle. Not the other way around.
Write It Down
Research confirms the effectiveness of planning when it comes to achieving fitness and health goals.
In fact, in an experiment conducted at the University of Hertfordshire, subjects with no plan had a hard time reaching their goals when attempting to fulfill New Year’s resolutions.
Therefore, once you decide on the building blocks of your running plan, write it down, and post it where you can see it on a regular basis.
Just make sure to be specific about each detail. These include:
- Running distance
- Running time
- Running duration
- Type of a run
- Walk/run ratio (for the complete beginner)
- Training pace
- Running route
I have written a comprehensive guide to running program design. You can find it here.
Also, prepare in advance your running shoes, clothes, water bottle, and running backpack, preferably the night before. This helps eliminate any excuse to skip the run.
3. Keep it Regular
Consistency is the backbone of habit formation success. Without it, rest assured that you’ll achieve NOTHING.
So, to create a lifelong running habit, commit to 30 days of consistent training. To err on the safe side, go for 45 days as research suggests that it can take up to six to eight weeks for a habit to develop.
Pick A Time
Whether you’re more likely to stick to training in the morning, lunchtime, or after work, make sure to run at the same time of the day.
I have set the time of 6:45 a.m. every day to exercise, and though I’m not perfect, I do my best not to vary from that time.
To get going, schedule at least five workouts per week:
- Three runs and
- Two cross-training routines—think strength training and yoga.
On rest days, stay active. Go for long walks or hikes. Or hop on the bike.
The principle is, as long as you keep moving during the first few weeks, you’ll further ingrain the habit of exercise into your daily schedule.
Prioritize Your Workout Schedule
Once you choose a training schedule, treat your running dates just like any other appointment that gets scheduled. What gets prioritized, gets done.
Your fitness and health are the most crucial reasons to stick to a regular running routine, so don’t cancel appointments that will enrich these vital facets of your life.
4. Reward Yourself
If you associate a habit with pain, you’ll shun it.
But If it’s fun, you’ll be looking forward to doing it. And one of the best ways to make running more enjoyable is to savor your victories.
So, to expedite habit formation, make the benefits of running more tangible by rewarding yourself upon reaching a specific goal—even if it’s just a tiny goal.
Experts, like Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do what We Do in Life and Business, emphasize the importance of rewarding as motivation for making behaviors changes.
So, once you set your mind a running goal, be it completing a certain distance, or running three times per week, reward yourself upon reaching it.
Next, decide on the next goal and a prize, then go after it. Rinse and repeat.
The reward can be a smoothie, a night’s out, Netflixing your favorite show, buying new shoes; whatever gets you going and excited.
5. Track Your Progress
You cannot progress on what you cannot measure. This is one of my favorite productivity and management sayings of all times.
And when it comes to physical exercise in general, the rule couldn’t be more relevant.
In fact, whether you track progress using old-school pen and paper, or with an app, logging your runs is crucial for keeping up your activity.
By keeping a record, you’ll start noticing training trends, which can help you determine what works best for efficient and successful training.
How would you know what to do next if you didn’t know what you did in the first place?
It’s always a good thing when you can run longer without getting tired or when you can lift heavier weights, or when your summer clothes fit better.
These are all signs of progress—and something you should be proud of.
The Things to Track
Keep tabs on your achievement and every everyday exercise details in a workout journal or store them digitally for review from time to time.
These may include:
- Running Workouts
- Heart rate
- Running goals
- Running times
- Mileage on a running shoe
- Running performance
- Cross training activities
- Body measures
- Before and after pictures
- Sleep patterns
- Weekly mileage
- Calorie intake
- Aches and pains
And that’s it. The above guidelines are you need to get started on the exercise habit formation path.
So, what are you waiting for? Start now and stop thinking about it.