Congratulations! You’ve made a resolution to start running, and feel totally stoked about all of the awesome runs in your future. For a couple weeks, you’re getting out there right on schedule, pounding the pavement and feeling like a rock star.
But then…life catches up, the enthusiasm fades and soon you’re finding excuses not to run.
We’ve ALL been there. It’s human nature. When something is new and exciting, it’s really easy to stay motivated. The trick is to find ways to stay committed over the long term.
1. Stop dwelling on the negative
If you think running is too hard for you, and that it will never get easier, you’re not going to stick with it. Here’s a newsflash: we all have days when it feels hard. But that’s just a thought, an opinion you’re telling yourself. You don’t have to believe it, and you can choose to think differently. Focus on what went well with your run – even if it’s the simple fact that you ran at all – to keep the negative thoughts in perspective.
2. Just put your shoes on
Sometimes it’s as simple as that. All you have to do is put your shoes on. Next, tell yourself you only have to do 10 minutes. Most of the time, once you’ve gotten that far, you’ll stick with it for longer. But even if you decide after 10 minutes that you’re ready to stop, you’ve still made progress towards establishing a running habit.
3. Keep your WHY front and center
If you don’t know why you want to run, it’s going to be a lot easier to stay on the couch when you think you should be out running. What do I mean by this? It’s simple: when it comes to a choice between being uncomfortable and sweaty (i.e. going out for a run) and staying home with a glass of wine, the immediate gratification of the wine will win out every time – unless the reward associated with the run is greater.
Spend some time understanding what running means to you. What are you getting out of it? What do you expect to accomplish? Why are your running goals important?
For example, my primary reason for running is because I feel proud of myself every time I put my shoes on and go. And I really like that feeling. So when it comes down to a choice between wine and running, it’s easy. Running will make me feel much better an hour from now than the wine will – and the feeling will last a lot longer.
4. Set a goal
Incentivizing your run by making it a step towards a long-term goal can be a great tool to keep you active. It helps you define your ‘why’, and provides a reason to ignore the pull of instant gratification in favor of a greater reward.
The most important thing is that the goal be meaningful to you. Think about your lifestyle, how you want to feel when you accomplish your goal, and your current skill level. Saying you’re going to train for a race just because everyone else is doing it will not be enough motivation if you don’t feel invested in the goal.
What is important to you? How do you want to feel when you accomplish it? Answer these questions first before you pick a goal and you’ll be more likely to get there.
5. Find a support system
Going it alone requires a LOT of strength, which can be a real challenge when you’re just starting out. The power of a group can make all the difference – so enlist the help of others to keep you focused and excited. A running buddy or group, or a virtual support team, are great ways to both create accountability and provide that feeling of being ‘in it together’.
Here’s the great news: if you employ the tactics above, eventually running will become a habit, and getting out the door will be much easier! So tell me – how do you make sure you stick to your running resolution?