• Helen Phillips

Make Running a Habit

If you've just started out running, or you've been guilty in the past of being a yo-yo exerciser and runner (going all out for a few weeks, then nothing for months) and you're planning on training for a marathon you need to start to build regular running into your life and Make Running a Habit.

Sometimes it can be hard to get your trainers on and even make it out of the door and relying on willpower alone might not work and can have the opposite effect if you decide to "rebel" against your good intentions! On those days when you’re late home from work, tired or stressed the last thing you want to do is run and no amount willpower will get you going (even if you know deep down that you'll feel better for it after!)

Here are 5 ways that have helped me build running regularly into my life that might help you too.

Habit builder #1: Have a goal

Ok, so you have a goal to run a marathon. But that race is months away. It's so far into the distance ... it feels like an eternity!

If you're running a spring marathon, or a race that's more than 6 months away then I find having a few smaller mini goals helps me to stay focused on my running.

I set myself mini challenges, that 'contribute' and move me closer to my main marathon running goal. Such as running a half marathon, or getting a PB in a Parkrun or 10k.

We're in the middle of summer, so it's a great time to start planning and preparing for an autumn race, a 10k or half. Why don't you enter an autumn half to keep you focused and on track for your spring marathon.

Once you've set your goal set write it down and pin it somewhere prominent. I have my running goals on the wall above my desk to remind me of what I'm training for to keep me focused.

Habit builder #2: Use a Plan

The easiest way to get distracted and off track with exercise or running is to "wing it". If you just go out running or to the gym when you feel like it, or exercise without focus and do the same workout or run every time you're less likely to stick to it.

If you're not used to following a plan, using one might feel a bit too rigid and structured, but it will definitely keep you on track and help build your running habit.

So sign up to Marathon Club Hub for our marathon preparation and training plans, or use other plans as guidance for the running and workouts you should be performing each week. If the running days in your plan don't work for you, then switch running, workouts and rest days around to fit your schedule, making sure you take rest days after hard running days to allow your body time to recover.

"Life" happens to us all, and often the best intentions to stick to a plan have to drop by the way-side now and again. If you have to drop or pause your plan, for holiday, sickness or a crazy work schedule, pick it back up as soon as "life" allows.

Depending upon the length of your break, and its reason, you might need to ease back into your running over a few weeks to get back to where you were. This can feel frustrating, and if you didn't have a goal to work towards it would be easy to quit. But, make a plan to get back on plan, and you'll soon be back on track with your running habit!

Habit builder #3: Have a Routine

Are you a morning, evening or lunchtime runner? I find running or working out at the same time on my running days really helps me stay focused. I run late morning, just before lunch, but in the past I've been an evening running (until I worked for a woman who regularly held 2 hour team meetings at 6pm) and a morning runner (with my 6pm meetings in the diary, I started running before work).

Find a time that suits your schedule and stick with it.

it also helps to write your runs and workouts into your diary or calendar, as you would any other business or social event. That way they're scheduled into your life, just like other important activities.

Habit builder #4: Run with Friends

It's so easy to 'put it off 'til tomorrow' when you start out running. But running with a friend you're more likely to stick to your training plans, and motivate each other as the weeks progress.

Lots of running clubs host new runners programmes and have groups of runners all training for the same marathon. Some clubs are very focused on training and performance with others more about group running and the post run social. Check out your local clubs to find which is right for you. Running with a club you'll be running with other beginners or marathon-ers and making new running friends to keep you on track.

Habit builder #5: Share your Journey

I started running as a way to take back control of my health and fitness. I had lived a crazy lifestyle, working away from home most of the time and at weekends I'd meet friends, which included lots of late night drinking in after hours bars. So when I started out running I was on my own. None of my friends were remotely interested in exercise, healthy living or running!

It was lonely, but I had a goal, a plan and a routine, and gradually I ran more and saw less of my friends (running an early morning half after drinking bottles of hard liquor and eating junk food doesn't really go).

Over time I discovered a number of Facebook Groups, met and made a lot of friends with likeminded individuals in similar "billy no mates" situations.

Social media gets a lot of rap, but I have found Facebook Groups a great source of advice, support and friendship.

If you're in Marathon Club Hub use the private Facebook Group as your personal support network. Share the ups and downs of your running journey. We are there to support each other. High 5 the successes and give big hugs when runs and life doesn't go to plan.

Happy Running Folks!

If you've got a marathon coming up and want support with making running and your training a habit for life then come and join Marathon Club Hub. Click HERE to find out more.