It’s January. The gym is crowded. Everyone is making a smoothie. My feeds are clogged with resolutions and fitness ads. If you are looking to start a new running routine, or return to an old one after the holidays, here are the 4 things that I’ve seen work the best to get the run streak started and keep it going through the end of the year.
1. Do What You Like
For the last five years I’ve tried to get myself to love swimming. I always like when I’m done swimming. It’s a great workout. Low impact. But I just don’t like it all that much. The thought of dragging myself to the pool shuts off any motivation I have like pouring ice water on a fire.
Don’t force it. If biking, swimming, or strength training isn’t your thing, don’t do it. If running is what gets you off the couch and out the door, do more of it. Sounds stupid and simple. It is! But it works.
You know what also sounds stupid, but works? Smiling. Smiling makes running, or at least the perceived effort of running, seem easier. Go figure.
2. Find a workout buddy or a group
It doesn’t have to be all the time but committing to working out with someone will help you stick to your routine and not surrender to the couch and Netflix. Finding a like-minded training group can be both an effective training tool and good social outlet. There are only so many running stories your spouse or partner can listen.
3. Set a Goal
And don’t make it an easy goal either. Pick a slightly scary goal at least five or six months in the future that will push and get you to stick with your training. Better yet, tell all your new friend in your running group (see #3) about your big audacious goal. You can’t back out now.
4. You’ll Save $$$ on Health Insurance
You might hear from non-runners that running will ruin your joints or lead to a knee replacement. But you know what? Not running (or exercising) is far worse. Running is great preventive medicine. Many, many studies show that exercise, like running, leads to lower rates of chronic disease, heart disease and depression.
As I settle into the master’s category, I’m becoming more comfortable with the fact that I won’t be getting faster and that’s OK. I’ve found the key to staying positive in both my running and my fitness is not to look back. I was faster five years ago and could run more miles and that’s OK.
Looking ahead, I have still have a lot of challenges I want to take on that don’t involve PRs and given where I was the last few years, I’m lucky to still be able to get out there and compete. I try to appreciate what I can still do. Fast, slow or in-between you’ll find me running throughout the year and hopefully years to come. Give these 4 strategies a try and you can, too.