As I’m sure you know, regular exercise is one of the biggest components of healthy living. One push-up, one jumping jack, or going for one run isn’t going to give you the health benefits you’re looking for, but if you can actually turn your workouts into a habit (one that you enjoy even), that’s when you will begin to see and feel your health improving.
Running is my healthy habit of choice. I didn’t always enjoy running though. These tips come from some strategies I personally used to help establish running as an integral part of my routine, something that I now look forward to everyday.
So without further ado, here are some tips to help you turn running into a habit. These all worked well for me and helped me achieve my goal of running a marathon while still in college.
1. Create a SMART goal.
SMART stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.” To create a SMART goal, you need to:
Be specific. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to “run more this year.” That's too vague and general. If you’re starting from scratch, you could set the goal of running your first 5k within the next 3-6 months. If you’re already comfortable running 5ks, set a goal for a personal record (PR) or new distance. If the idea of running a mile seems too overwhelming, walking can also be a great way to get more exercise. Think about your goal carefully and then write it down.
Measure your progress using free tracking apps on your smartphone or keep a record of your miles or workouts somewhere prominent in your home. By having a record, you can see how far you’ve come. You can also print out your running plan and put it on the fridge or next to your calendar to track your progress.
Keep your goals attainable. If you’re new to running, it’s not reasonable to expect you’ll be ready to run a marathon after 3 months. If your goal is to run a new personal best, look up a training plan that seems doable and then stick to it! You want to push yourself, but don’t set yourself up for disappointment either.
Be realistic. Think honestly about your time and commitments. If you have found yourself skipping afternoon runs in the past because of your job or family commitments, then it may not be realistic to plan on running more frequently in the afternoons. Maybe, you need to get up a little earlier and squeeze your run in during the morning! Take the time to consider your schedule and priorities carefully to pick the best and most realistic option. That way, you’re more likely to stick to the routine.
Set a timeframe. With running, one of the best ways to do this is to register for a race! Seeing that date in the calendar (even if it’s several months away) will be a powerful motivator to get you out of the door and running. Plus, knowing that you’re working towards a specific event will make each run feel more meaningful.
Now that you have your SMART goal, here are a few other tips to help you stay on-track:
2. Find a running buddy.
Search for that running partner who will push you out the door and hold you accountable to the running goals you've made. My mom has been my running buddy for several years now, and she’s helped keep me accountable! If it’s a chilly morning (or snowing like in this picture), she’s able to motivate me to get out and go.
3. Reward yourself.
Create sub-goals, like getting through a week’s worth of workouts without skipping any runs. When you reach that sub-goal, treat yourself to some new songs for your workout playlist. Breaking down your goal into smaller goals will help it feel more manageable and less overwhelming (Trust me, I understand the idea of running non-stop for 2 hours or more can be daunting at first!).
4. Tell your friends and family.
It will make your goal feel more official if you announce it, rather than keeping it to yourself. There are also a number of online communities you could join to help hold yourself accountable. So, there you go! Hopefully these strategies will help you find some new success with your running.
Nora began blogging after she and her mother ran their first half marathon in 2012. They loved the experience so much, they decided they would make it their goal to run a half marathon (or marathon) in every state. You can read about their journey and progress on Nora's blog 2 Generations Running.
Main photo credit: maradonna 888/Shutterstock.com
Second photo credit: Halfpoint/Shutterstock.com