Finding Your Routine
Make Running a Part of Your Life
Struggling to make any form of exercise a part of your routine is completely normal. Honestly, it was a struggle for everyone at some point in their lives. Most people start a healthy practice like exercising or eating better and then stop and then they repeat the cycle. This is probably because they are trying to use sheer "willpower" to keep them propelled forwards. Willpower is a fleeting resource that we have as humans, so trying to start a new routine only using will power can be difficult. Though we can't rely on willpower as a source of energy for our new routines, we can try relying on habit itself. We as humans are creatures of habit. I work best when I have routine in my life. For me, I wake up at the same time everyday (even on weekends), I runs around the same time everyday, I start work at the same time everyday, I do my strength training around the same time, and I eat at the same times everyday. Most of the time I am running on autopilot and honestly, I prefer it that way. I wanted to share some actions that may help you make running a part of your daily life, or anything else you may want to make a part of your routine.
Running takes patience. If you haven't run since high school, you probably shouldn't expect to be able to run 5 miles effortlessly right away. If you're new to running embrace methods such as the run/walk method. Small steps will still propel you forward and feel less overwhelming than attempting a "hail mary" by going out full force. If you're looking to get started here's a beginner's guide to running.
Make a Schedule
The most obvious place to start is to make a schedule or plan. Figure out when you have time to add running into your schedule or purposefully carve out some time. Once you know when you have time to run you can come up with a training plan that'll work for you. Once you've got it on the calendar you will be less likely to skip it.
Turn that Schedule into a Ritual
Once you have a schedule down you'll need to turn it into a "ritual." Try developing a specific running routine. For example, run at the same time everyday, have similar foods before your run, and develop a warm up routine for your run. Aerobic fitness is built through consistency, so having a consistent daily schedule will help you stick to your new habit.
Track Your Progress
Keeping a training journal or a running log will help you track your progress. Recording your progress will make you keenly aware of your workout routine which can help you same motivated and develop consistency. There are several ways you can log your progress. You can have a coach keep track of your progress using programs such as Training Peaks or Final Surge, or you can use Excel or Google Sheets to track your own progress. The simplest kind of training log is just using a real journal.
Prep Prep Prep!
If you have a hard time getting up in the morning or finding time to fuel your body the best thing you can do is prep. If you have it schedule to run in the morning, lay out your clothes the night before, that way you can just throw on your clothes and head out the door. If you have a hard time properly fueling your body prep your lunches the day before or at the beginning of the week.
Allow For Flexibility
Life is hectic and crazy sometimes. Injuries, sickness, working overtime, family obligations, lots of things can get in the way of your normal routine. Sometimes you just need to roll with the punches. If you miss a run for any reason, don't beat yourself up over it. Just continue your routine as usual tomorrow. Allowing for flexibility can also mean not doing everything at your normal times. Sometimes you won't be able to run at your usual time. If you can't get your run in during the morning, you can shoot for getting it in that afternoon.
You can keep yourself accountable all sorts of ways. Keep yourself accountable with goals, running clubs or training partners, and races. Having attainable goals can give you a form of self accountability, while having friends to run with will keep you accountable to them. Then having races on the calendar will keep you accountable as well because... hey you paid for that race! You don't want your money to go to waste right?
Early Bird Gets the Worm
Not everyone is an early bird, but I am a strong believer of the morning run. It's easier to squeeze in your running when you do it early in they day. We're all super busy with work, families, and other obligations. All of these obligations can take a toll on our energy levels and by the end of the day you might feel drained. If you run early in the morning, before the world starts to wake, there will be less disturbances and you'll be at your highest energy levels. There is research that actually shows the morning exercisers tend to be more consistent.
Hire a Coach
If you want to take your running to the next level or if you're struggling to motivate yourself hiring a coach may be a good way to go! If your budget permits it, a coach can keep you accountable and training even when life gets busy. A coach will help motivate you and keep you from straying to far from your training program. As a running coach myself, I love working with busy athletes who want to improve their running or are working on starting their running journey. Feel free to reach out to me if you think a running coach is right for you. My coaching page can be found here!