The motivation to start (and keep on) running has to come from yourself. External pressure may help to an extent, but will hardly lead to happy and long lasting performance; Being forced into a session or being told a million times that you should get some exercise might do the trick to get you started, but it’s not the most sustainable way to get you up and running.
So what can we do to keep the motivation up to lace up our running shoes and go out for a run without needing to find silly excuses? Here are a few tips and tricks to keep the spirit high…
Rely on Cues and Habits
“Once it’s a habit, exercise feels easier and doesn’t take as much willpower when you don’t feel like it.” We easily adapt to habits. For instance, if you wake up to an alarm clock at the same time for a few weeks, even if you set the alarm half an hour later, you still wake up around the same time as before. We can apply the same principle to running. Aim to always run on the same days at the same time, even if that means sacrificing a one-off social event. Once you are conditioned to keep the same running schedule, everything will fall in place. You can easily pick up again if you have to miss a run and your social environment will keep your runs in mind and start planning events at other days so you won’t have to miss out on them. Run at the same place, but avoid places that you visit often outside of running. This is where our curiosity comes into play; if you happen to pass by places that change on a regular basis (flower gardens, parks, outdoor event locations), you start to wonder what is going on in there and get distracted in the process.
Find Your Tribe
Run with the same people. Try joining a running group where you meet people who at least have one thing in common with you – the love for running. Hence, the moment you skip a few runs, they will inquire what is going on and try to get you back on track.
Keep your running schedule visible. Mark your runs on a wall calendar or print out your running schedule and leave it at a place so that you (and your housemates) can’t miss it. The door of the fridge is one such perfect spot.
Reward yourself on days that you find it harder to run. You might have had a hard day at the office and it is raining outside and your best friend won’t make it today, plus another 100 more excuses not to go out for a run. Those moments are perfect opportunities to give yourself a small reward. Plan to go for a milkshake after the run, or plan to have a nice relaxing bath afterwards. Make running a habit and after a while, the running itself will be the reward and not being able to go for a run will feel like missing out on something important! 🙂
The Happy Pacer series here plans to bring you all sorts of information about running on a bi-weekly basis. In episode 3, I will talk about how to handle the first few runs without getting demotivated.