When you first decide to take up running, it can often feel difficult to find time in a busy schedule for a proper running routine. I know that when I first started, my life was already so busy with work, family and socialising that exercise tended to take a back seat for me. However, running is proven to be beneficial for both body and mind, so I can testify that it’s well worth finding that extra time in the day to slot it into. In fact, you may find that it’s much easier than you first imagined! Here we’ll take a look at the best methods for finding and maintaining your motivation, so that running feels more like a natural and essential part of your life and less like an extra chore.
Join a Running Group
Starting a new exercise regime can feel intimidating at first. So, if you’re lacking in motivation to get started or have questions about the process, I find that joining a running group can be an ideal way to boost your confidence. Take a look around your local area and you’ll most probably find that there are several different groups there with varying aims and ability levels. I recommend that you make sure to choose one that feels right for you, where you can be comfortable with the pace, focus and spirit of the team.
In my experience, joining a running group can be a great way to meet new people and socialise, whilst using the energy and support of others to encourage you in your new training efforts. It also provides a chance to pool information and advice, from the best pre-run stretches to the most enjoyable routes in your local area. It has the added benefit of committing members to an established time and date for running, meaning that you are less likely to back out as you don’t want to let your group down. I know that I’m much more likely to stick to a routine if I have others counting on me!
Sign Up for a Race
Another great way to make sure you are committed to your new hobby is to sign up for a race or a sponsored run. It doesn’t have to be anything big if you’re still just starting out. One of the first runs I signed up for was Cancer Research’s Race for Life. This is a well-established event with different tiers available for people to take part in depending on their ability. Once I’d completed the 5K, I set about training to take part in the 10K the next year!
Signing up for such an event gave me a tangible goal to work towards and an extra reason not to back out of training. It was also an opportunity to make running about more than just myself. Many races have fundraising for charities and good causes as their main focus. If you have a cause that you are passionate about, you can use that passion to drive your determination and help you achieve your running goals.
Use Your Phone to Track Progress
What people tend to forget is that exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body. I find that a smart phone can be a great tool to facilitate a mental workout on the go, with plenty of quick and easy online tasks available. Personally, I like to take a few minutes out of my day to complete a crossword puzzle, challenge a dealer on blackjack or finish a few brain games. I find that this helps me to stay alert and feel like my brain is firing on all cylinders.
If you’re already used to using your phone in this way, then it’s easy to incorporate it into your running schedule too. Most smart phones come ready equipped with the technology to record steps taken and distance travelled but with the development of apps comes the ability to do so much more. Beginner apps like Human and Pacer offer a chance to connect with a wider community of runners who can offer tips, advice and motivation. They also help you to set up a routine and keep close track of your running output.
Once you feel a little more experienced, you may find that you want to record a more in-depth analysis of your progress and this is where apps like Strava or Nike+ come in. These apps have been developed specifically to display detailed information about your routine, progress and accomplishments in order to drive you harder towards your goals. With the added options of comparing your results to others on the same route, or listening to tailor-made coaching playlists whilst you run, these apps can really help you to step up your game.
Just Say Yes!
Finally, we all know that forming a new habit feels difficult at first. However, it only takes 2 weeks for it to become an instinctive part of your daily routine. So, there can be no excuses! Whether that means waking up an hour early to fit a run in or going running with the dog (or the baby in a buggy in my case!), you must learn not to take no for an answer from yourself. Whilst rest days and listening to your body are absolutely essential in order to reap the benefits of exercise, for running to be a success it must be one of your priorities. You’ll thank yourself for it later, trust me!