The first month is a crucial period for anyone looking to improve their health and fitness by getting into the habit of running. Various studies have examined how long it takes to form a new habit, and the answers have spanned from an average of 21 days to 66 days.
People start running for a diverse range of reasons, from wanting to run a half-marathon to losing weight to improving their mental health. Regardless of your reason for running, if you are a beginner, you should consider the following five tips to not only start running but maintain it as a part of your daily routine.
Time Your Run Consistently
A solid foundation for making running a habit is to go for a run at the same time each day. Set an alarm on your phone to act as a cue for getting into the workout mindset. Have your running gear visible when it comes to your scheduled running time to act as a visual cue for priming your body to run. The underlying mechanism is that you are literally creating new neural pathways in your brain that direct your behavior towards daily running.
Don’t Overtax Yourself
While ambition is nothing to be ashamed about, it is crucial to balance your ambition with a healthy dose of realism. As a beginner, your body is most likely not yet used to the intense physical demand of lengthy running sessions. Start out with a manageable workout time that makes you sweat but doesn’t leave you exhausted for three days. Worse still, over-exerting yourself increases the risk of an injury that will halt your running before you’ve made it a habit.
Create a Running Plan
When you create your own plan around running, you give yourself a structured framework that makes it easier to transform running into a daily habit. Plan your running route in advance, have a music playlist or podcast already selected before leaving the door, and plan a small reward for yourself to act as motivation for completing your run each day.
Consider Becoming a Morning Runner
If you live a busy lifestyle, you will often find that the demands of daily life interfere with your running routine. You might establish an evening running routine only for it to be interrupted by having to stay late at work, for example. If you run early in the morning, you give yourself a better chance of turning running into a habit. The beauty of becoming a morning runner is that you feel more awake and productive for the rest of the day.
When running seems like too much hard work without much enjoyment, you’ll be less motivated to stick with it. It’s a good idea to try and maximize the enjoyment you get from running. Maybe you think running on treadmills is monotonous and dull—go for a run in nature instead. Alternatively, maybe you like being able to track every detail of your run while listening to upbeat music or an audiobook, in which case, use a treadmill. Everyone’s concept of enjoyment differs, but it’s important to run in a way that you find most pleasant.