Running is a great sport, but it’s not easy.
To become a runner, you’ll have to be patient, determined, and motivated to keep training through thick and thin.
In fact, even when you have the best intentions to run regularly, life can happen, and excuses are so easy to find.
“The weather is bad,” “I don’t have time,” “ I’m drained.” “There is a new show on Netflix,” etc.
The list goes on.
That’s why, according to my own observation, most people who take up running give up after no more than a couple of weeks.
6 Ways to Actually Help You Stick to Your Running Plan
Here are some strategies that can make it easier to stick with a running plan.
Incorporate these guidelines to maintain (and improve) your motivation and resolve to keep exercising for the long haul.
1. Start Easy
Running too much too soon is the recipe for soreness, injury, and burnouts.
That said, I see many newbies make this stupid mistake.
Most people take up running assuming that they’d be able to run a five-miler on day one.
Then, sooner than later, reality catches up with them, and they end up feeling exhausted, injured, or discouraged.
For this reason, when first starting out running begin small, commit to no more than three easy runs per week.
You don’t need to be a hero from the get-go. You still have the rest of your life to become the type of a runner you aspire to be.
How to Get Started
The best way to get fit without getting hurt is to opt for the walk/run method. Here is the full guide.
2. Have a Plan
I started running roughly 11 years ago, and if the practice has taught me anything is that planning is key to success.
After all, failing to plan is planning fail.
Sure, this seems extremely cliché, but it’s true.
“But, David, I just want to run off a few pounds; I have not intentions to become a “serious” runner!”
I completely agree.
Just hear me out
Even if you’ve no racing ambitions, it’s a good idea to follow a planned out running schedule to help you stay on track and keep motivated.
Without such a plan, a beginner runner may risk increasing their mileage too quickly beyond what their body is capable of handling, which, definitely, will result in injury and disappointment. And you don’t want that.
The Plan(s) You Need
Here is the good news.
You don’t need a complicated plan.
At a minimum, aim for 140 to 160 minutes of exercise per week. That equates to roughly 30 to 45 minutes a day, for four to five times a week.
A typical weekly training template involves running on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday—covering 3/4/5 miles on those respective days.
Then cross training—lift weights, do yoga, bicycle, swim, whatever—on Tuesday, Thursday and/or Friday.
Sunday should always be a rest day.
Coming up with a plan, even one as simple as this, can help you maintain your running routine long term.
3. Set The Right Goals
Another critical key to sticking to running is setting the right training goals.
So, as a rule of thumb, remember to keep your running goals within reach.
Otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
So, how to set the right running goals?
It’s quite simple: Set SMART goals.
This is an acronym used to set goals and is incredibly helpful for building habits. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
For instance, “I want to start running” is not a SMART goal.
“I want to be able to run for 30 minutes, non-stop, at a conversational pace by July” is more specific, quantifiable, and incorporates a deadline.
Write Your Goals Down
Once you decide on your goals, put them up in a prominent place to serve as a reminder, which can help you keep your resolve.
Doing so can also place a little pressure to keep exercising consistently.
4. Be Accountable
Plenty of people set goals, but far fewer are willing to do all it takes to turn their vision into a concrete reality.
The fact is, simply setting goals, then writing them down is just one piece of the puzzle.
That’s why having some form of accountability is crucial.
When you’re accountable to someone other than yourself for doing what you said you’d, you could achieve colossal progress because you enlist the power of social expectations.
Not only that, knowing that those holding you accountable will be asking you for updates on your progress will help you stay motivated to keep running.
And science agrees.
Research has found that people who share their goals with others are twice as likely to achieve them than if they keep the goals to themselves.
How To Build Accountability
It’s a two-step process.
Firstly, set the right goal (we already talked about that), then be willing to let others help you achieve it.
Involve everyone around you. Good candidates include your partner, a family member, a friend, or even a pro such as a personal trainer or a coach.
Next comes the hard part.
Once you share your goals, keep track of your short-term goals and set a deadline, then schedule regular appointments to report back to your circle on your progress, or lack thereof.
The rest is just detail.
5. Keep Track
To Track your progress, keep a training log or journal.
Monitoring your workouts is also helpful because it helps you detect a pattern in training, which is vital in uncovering what works the best for performance and injury prevention.
The Tools of The Tracking Trade
Simply grab a notebook and write some note after each of your runs.
You can also monitor your goals online by using an app likeLogMyRun to prompt you to enter data about your training,
After each workout, note the following:
- Time and distance
- How you were feeling (physically, emotionally, and mentally)
- Comments about how you felt
- Approximate mileage
- Weather conditions
- Pre-run meal
- Calorie burn
- Sets performed
- And anything else relevant to your running routine.
6. Beat Boredom
Last but not least, one thing you need to beat to stick to your running plan is, plain and simple, boredom.
In fact, along with injury and burnouts, boredom is one of the top reasons people give up on running.
You can make running fun in a lot of different ways.
Here are some ideas:
- Instead of running solo, peer up with a friend or co-worker. Misery, after all, loves company.
- Create a playlist of your favorite songs that only listen to when you work out. Or
- Listen to a fiction audiobook and get lost in the story.
- Find a good podcast. My favorite is the Joe Rogan Show.
- Run somewhere pristine and beautiful. Enjoy the sights and sounds as you go.
- Make your running time your sacred time. Practice running meditation.
- Create a reward system in which you treat yourself to a treat whenever you reach a specific running milestone.
- Vary your routes and workouts
The options are almost endless.
Regardless of what fun means to you, as long as it’s working, you’re good to go. This will help you stick with it.