Every fitness journey starts with a decision to change your lifestyle and adopt a new habit. You probably have read about the benefits of running and started running a few miles every morning. A few days into it and you realize that waking up early for your morning run is not as easy as it was in the beginning. You have to force yourself out of bed and sometimes find excuses not to run. Most if not all people go through the same when starting a new fitness journey. Many give up and keep setting new fitness goals without accomplishing any of them. How do you keep yourself motivated to run every day? Here are some practical tools to keep you motivated.
- Develop a plan
The common saying that failing to plan is planning to fail applies to fitness. You cannot make running a habit without a plan. Have a plan that shows the time, place, and route for your morning or evening run. You can print out your plan and post it in a strategic place in your house where you can see it times in a day. Your plan must include your goals and rewards after making running a habit. Include short-term and long-term goals in your plan and a reward for achieving each goal. Coach Culpepper advises that every runner must have a specific end goal. Your goals should be specific, challenging and realistic. According to coach, written goals remind you that running is important and give a reference point. Goals refocus your mind when you lose your enthusiasm to run. Remember to update your plan and reward yourself for achieving a goal.
- Start small and increase mileage gradually
One reason why many people fail in running consistently is starting with long runs. Your body needs time to adjust to the new exercise and routine. You will get exhausted quickly if you start with long runs especially if you have not been doing any strenuous exercises. Increase your mileage gradually as your body develops resistance. You cannot create a new habit in a day or two. It will take several weeks of daily runs to make the exercise a permanent habit. Ben Moreau who is a successful marathon runner advises runners to build their training slowly to avoid injuries. Many sustain injuries because their bodies are not ready for an intense workout session. Injuries will slow you down.
- Maintain a regular routine
Follow the same routine every morning or evening before your run. Your daily routine should include a few warm exercises. Start your workout the same time every day and play the same music if you decide to include music in your run. Take the same route every day until you master the habit. Your routine should include preparing your running gear. Prepare your complete running gear beforehand to that it is easy to possible to start your run on time.
- Keep track of your progress
Tracking your progress motivates you and helps you identify handles in your journey. One easy to way to track your progress is to create a running log. Record the mileage covered and time taken every day on your log. Include brief notes each day including your physical state after the run. You can share your running log with your connections on social platforms and update every day to remain accountable. Be honest with your entries because one of your connections may be following your log for inspiration. Coach Culpepper indicates that recording your workouts is a way of creating significance and purpose for your running.
- Build a support system
It takes more than willpower to create a new habit. You need to engage other people in your journey to remain consistent. Your support system should include accountability partners. Share your goals and running schedule with them. You can share your running log with them as well. Find out if there is a running group in your area that has the same running time as you and join the group. You can also engage a trainer to help you set the right pace and mileage for your run. It helps to join a group of people who are equally motivated to achieve their fitness goals.
- Reward yourself
A reward system will keep you motivated to achieve your goals. Your plan must include a reward after every run. Rewards can be as simple as a good breakfast, a spa treatment at the end every week or a new running gear. Take a hot cup of tea or coffee after your run as you allow your body to recharge. However, your rewards should be in line with your fitness goals. For instance, do not reward yourself with junk food if you are trying to lose weight. Take a healthy snack or consider non-food rewards for reaching your goal.
- Get enough rest and eat a balanced diet
It is difficult to keep up with any exercise if you do not get enough rest every night. Your daily routine should include going to bed on time every night. Your body requires enough time to rest and recover from the exercise and daily activities. Avoid strenuous exercises just before bedtime. If the most convenient time for you to run is in the evening, run hours before bedtime and then warm down to help your body recover. Take one day off in a week to allow your body to recover. You can do a few simple exercises on that day or take a walk and just enjoy nature.
If you are struggling to wake up every morning for your run, consider an extra hour of sleep. You can cut down your mileage to allow your body to rest. Dr. Robert Oexman advises runners to go to bed earlier if they run early in the morning. Getting enough sleep improves your performance and speeds up recovery in case of injuries. Running is important and hence the need to make it a habit but you must make sleep a priority as well.
Your diet determines your physical strength during and after a run. Whether you are planning to shed off some weight or not, a healthy balanced diet is important when exercising. Avoid fatty and sugary foods because they add extra pounds and make running even harder. Instead, increase your intake of vegetables and low carbohydrates. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants that help your body recover after an exercise.
Culpepper, Allan. 2015. “Six Steps to Developing a psychology of success.” March 21, 2016, http://running.competitor.com/2015/03/training/coach-culpepper-6-mental-tips-for-running-success_125565
Jessica, Smith. 2016. “The Best Running Tips of All Times.” http://www.shape.com/fitness/training-plans/best-running-tips-all-time
Sarah, Phillips. 2012. “How to Avoid Running Injuries.” March 21, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/19/how-to-avoid-running-injuries