Running is a great form of exercise that gets you out of the house and can help relieve stress. But the most difficult part of becoming a runner, yet the most essential if you want to build any kind of endurance, is having a consistent routine. And when you’ve got a million other concerns in a day, making time for even the shortest run can be a challenge.
These tips aren’t for those who are looking to maximise your metabolism or gain spiritual enlightenment from running. This quick guide is for those of us who have trouble sticking to our running resolutions – despite our best intentions.
I started training for the London Marathon in August 2015, and since then I’ve discovered a few things about building running a routine. Most importantly, I know what motivates me, what excuses I tend to make, and what kind of routine I’ll actually stick to.
#1 – Don’t make your run the first thing or last thing you do in day.
I know there lots of articles out there about the benefits to waking up and starting the day with a morning jog. And yes, running in the evening can help relieve the tensions of the day. But if you’re new to running and you’re having trouble sticking to it, I’d advise against a morning or evening run – because they’re so much easier to skip.
I can easily make a list of excuses a mile long about why it’s OK to skip that 5K I had planned to complete: I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m sleepy, it’s too dark outside, I need coffee, the cats need to be fed, the house need to be cleaned, I’ve got dinner plans, I have to Skype my mum… the list goes on.
So for me to successfully get my butt out the door and my feet on the pavement, it’s all about choosing the path of least resistance. I schedule my run for about midday on weekdays, and I take an hour (my allocated lunch time) to complete it. It’s in my work diary, and the office has a shower room. There’s no real reason for me to skip that 5K anymore: I’m awake, I’m fed, and honestly I’m usually just looking for any excuse to take a break from my desk. Time to get my run in, tick it off my to-do list and feel productive.
#2 – Make your run schedule known, and ask people to respect it.
Schedule your run during the day, and make sure it’s a) visible in your work calendar and b) that people know you’ll be out of office during this time. Letting people know you’ll be unavailable will help carve out some “sacred”, unimpeachable running time for you, and you’ll feel strange if you don’t respect it. Colleagues will notice if you’re still in the office – so in a way, their expectations will push you out that door and through your daily miles.
#3- Visualise and prepare in advance.
When creating a regular running schedule, think about the best time for you to carve out some training. When is your body in optimal conditions for a run? Is it in the morning, the afternoon, at lunch? For example, late morning is best for me: I can have a snack pre-run, use an “early lunch hour” to get out, and have a nice hearty lunch at my desk to help me recover and ease back in to my work.
Listen to your body, and pay atttention to when you feel energetic throughout the day. Once you think you’ve picked the best time of day, visualise how you’ll feel – will you need a boost of fuel, or extra hydration? Plan out what you’ll eat (before and after), and how you’ll get kitted out. Then, with that plan in mind, pack your bag the night before with the essentials you’ll need – including food and drink.
#4 – Bring your running gear with you in a separate bag.
Did you have to carry two large bags with you on a long commute? Well, all that sweat, discomfort and awkwardness will feel useless if you don’t use the stuff you packed in your running bag…
The key here is to use your morning motivation (“I should go running today”) to commit to transporting your gym bag to work – and once it’s there, by your desk, it will serve as a constant reminder of your commitment.
This tactic is most effective if you can force yourself to carry the bag back and forth to work with you. Plus, bringing it home every day will give you a chance to swap out sweaty clothes for fresh ones – and you can use a smaller bag. Score.
Did you find any of these tips helpful? Do you have any tricks or tips you can share? Leave a comment below!
If you’d like to help me survive my first marathon and get to the finish line in one piece, you can support me through my sponsorship page. I’m running for a children’s charity and hope to raise some valuable funds for a good cause. Your support is keeping me going even when my hamstrings are crying out for mercy!