Before I started running regularly I obviously was curious about the possible benefits running could provide in my life. And so is a majority of runners. The top ranking benefits from a survey I took last year were mainly health related. The goal to lose weight with running or have a better sleep and an increased overall fitness, is what brings most beginning runners to the sport.
But a high percentage of people who stick to running show a shift in the goals and the reasons why they go out regularly for a run. After the first month and after healthy and fitness benefits become visible, a lot of runners just really don’t want to stop their running habit. Ever. Until the day they die.
This was exactly the case with me. I got addicted to running! But there are also a lot of people who want to run but they seem to not be able to manage to get to the addictive stadium where a workout run is no more something you should do but something you can’t go without.
In this article I want to throw out some ideas that help you get to the point where you caught the running bug and stick with it. Because that is where the magic happens and what gives you a guarantee of permanent improvement and health benefits.
I put this first because it is the most important. Don’t tell lies to yourself and find excuses so you don’t have to run. As with many other things, the beginning is the hardest part and not easy at all. Otherwise every last living person would finish marathons each year.
It is tough but it’s constantly getting easier. So just be honest to yourself and always keep in mind that nothing comes by its own. Work hard now and reap the benefits for years to come.
Ok this is a big one so read this paragraph really carefully.
Set a realistic goal you want to achieve through running, plan your training towards the goal and most important: Stick to the plan!
Having a goal is the most crucial thing when it comes to establishing a running habit that lasts. But it’s not that easy. Your ability to be able to stick to your plan is highly dependent on the goal you set yourself.
You have to find that sweet spot between a too easy goal and too tough one. A goal needs to be measurable and realistic and also suit your lifestyle and needs.
To get you started on how to find a good running goal, check out this post:
How to set your next running goal
Running is a great way to overcome an addiction you have. In fact many use running to get away from drugs or alcohol and find a substitute in regular exercise that is a much healthier addiction than substance abuse.
But it doesn’t need to be hard drugs you want to get away from. Maybe you have another bad habit you want to reduce or remove from your life at all. If you dig deep you most probably find something in your life too. Let me give you some hints with these examples:
Does anything of the things mentioned above ring a bell? If yes, then try to recognize the moment you’re falling back into your habit. And then just go for a run.
I give you a personal example: My big guilty pleasure is chocolate. So when I sit at home after work, finding myself craving for some sweets I recognize the moment, head over to my wardrobe to get my running outfit, lace up my shoes and just go running. Depending on your habit you’ll probably run a lot 🙂 But be careful and don’t overdo it. If you smoked a pack of cigarets each day you won’t be able to go for a run 20 times a day.
With this tactic you slowly replace your bad habit by a running habit. And before you know it, you are addicted to an activity that might change your life in a great way.
You think peer pressure is something bad? Well it can be but it can also be one of the best things to friendly force you to go running regularly.
Joining a running group or fix a time each week to go running with one or more friends makes a big difference. You get questioned if you don’t show up and get bad comments all the time. The fact that you’re not alone in the running game and that there are some people pushing you, can be the one thing that make you stick to running.
The best thing here is to have the same running goal as a friend of yours. For example you can sign-up for the same race. You not only get a fair amount of competition but you can learn from each other and train even better.
This is just how our brains work. Do something good and get rewarded for it. With running this often comes by itself. The awesome feeling after a good run and the endorphins rushing through your blood are a great reward by itself.
However you can get yourself a reward after a completed workout or after a week where you stuck to the plan every single day. Get a nice dinner or treat yourself with candy. That’s completely fine if you don’t overdo it.
A great reward I regularly give myself is going to the Spa. This is not only very relaxing but also speeds up the recovery process of your body. So with that you can kill two birds with one stone.
Talking about rewards there’s probably nothing more rewarding than seeing that your effort pays off. So monitoring your progress is a major thing that can get you hooked on the process of training.
I love tracking and analyzing my training runs. It is kind of ritual to sit down and look how I did. So what should you have an eye on?
Well the most obvious thing is mileage. How far did you run? When you train regularly, running the same distance becomes easier and easier and you can constantly increase the distance of your training runs. Have a look at your weekly and monthly mileage. These can be astonishing numbers. Just check on the map the places you could reach with your monthly mileage. And all this with the power of your own body!
The next thing to review would be your pace. As your body adapts to training you will run faster at the same effort (heart rate), which is a great sign of increased fitness.
Depending on the goals you want to achieve with running, there are much more things you can have a look at. If you wanna slim, regularly note your weight. Or if you want to improve your sleep, note how fast you can fall a sleep at night, how many times you wake up and how much you sleep in total.
But don’t get too focused on these numbers. Always remember that your progress should not come with any health issues or injuries. Take your progress as a motivational boost but don’t get addicted trying to reach great results as fast as you can.
Ok I mentioned some things you can do to increase the possibility of catching the running bug and establish a lasting running routine. But let me show you some signs your running addiction finally arrived.
There are many more signs you caught the running bug, what’s yours?
Running is beautiful. Running is freedom and running is me-time. Just try to enjoy every time when you head outside for a run. Breathing in fresh air and, if possible, cherish the great nature you’re running in, are things that make running much easier.
After all benefits you want to achieve with running, also always remember: Running is fun. It’s supposed to be something you like to do regularly apart from the goals you have in mind. So try to have an approach that puts pleasure and fun in the center and build everything else around that.
In my experience it doesn’t need years to get somebody hooked with running. Normally it happens pretty fast. But the first few weeks and months are crucial and decide if you become that marathoner your dream of or stop running out of frustration.
No matter your level and the goal you set yourself, three months is always a good span for a training block or an entire training program. Within this timeframe it needs to be in your focus to avoid any injuries or other major setbacks. If you succeed to go running regularly during three months, chances are high you won’t stop for decades.
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