Experts say that it takes 30 days to create or break a habit: Experts fail to point out that living out each of those 30 days can be EXTREMELY trying. I am positive that lifelong smokers, non-morning people, and other habit holders can all testify to that. In the world of running, this rule makes no exception; getting our lazy tails out of bed and onto the pavement can lose its spark after the first few “motivationally driven” days. What will keep your drive after the excitement of a new adventure subsides? Let these five concepts keep your game face on when things get boring and tiring.
1- The Rhythm of your Run: If you have been running sans music this entire time, I have a secret for you: Music is the game changer! It serves so many purposes during a run. Not only do you get to pick the tunes that will keep you motivated, it allows you to ditch the stopwatch and use different playlists as a time tracking device. Create a few playlists that vary in length (one 30-min and one 1 hour, for example) and you are all set to enjoy your run with a little more spring in your step.
2-Have a Partner in Crime: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – having a friend can add some motivation and excitement to your routine. The random small-talk can keep your brain focused on what your friend is saying and not on how your body is feeling. It is also less of a challenge to hit the trail when your friend is at your door, decked out in sportswear and ready to go. No excuses!
3-Have a Daily and Goal-Based Reward: I’m sure you’ve heard of these reward incentives before: “One month of consistent running and I shall buy that cute running outfit from Cut & Run”. If a distant goal works for you, go with it. If you’re like me, I need something daily that will be my prize for finishing the day’s run. Whether if it is an hour of Netflix, an iced Starbucks drink or a manicure, a small daily goal will keep you feeling accomplished on a daily basis.
4-Opt for New Adventures: If I had nothing but eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, I would end up with an extreme hatred for eggs and would probably avoid them forever. If you are running the same street every day, your run will become monotonous and the temptation to skip out on your workout would be strong. Opt for different routes – by the beach, a dirt trail, different streets – and watch as your mind becomes preoccupied more with looking at the new surroundings, and less on counting down the minutes.
5-Competition: Friendly and Fierce: Give yourself a running-related goal and develop a strategy to get there. If you are competitive by nature, check out local listings for marathons and races and build your stamina to compete. If you cringe at the thought of losing, opt for a charitable event (we have the Terry Fox Run in Canada that supports cancer research) and practice to be successful.
Allowing yourself the freedom to actually like your run can lead to establishing strong habits in life. If you can beat the first 30 days of creating a running routine, then what can’t you do?
By Amber Goguen, health-conscious writer and published poet.