Running is one of the easiest sports to get into—you don’t need access to any fancy, expensive equipment. Plus, it’s something you can do for the rest of your life; 70- and 80-year-olds are still out there breaking records. But it can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to starting a running routine—even making it around the block feels intimidating if you’ve never laced up before or are coming back after a long hiatus.
The decision to start is the first step, and while your journey might not always be easy, it will always be worth it. Here are four tips to get motivated for—and stay committed to—your new pursuit.
→ Find your why
What are you hoping to get out of this? Have you answered that question? Do you want to meet new people? Do you hope to work through issues you’re dealing with at work or in life through movement? Do you just want time away from technology to clear your mind? Consider what’s going on in your life and how running can enhance your overall experience. After all, running is an investment in yourself. If you understand why you’re doing it, you’re more likely to stay committed. When things get tough, focusing on the reasons you started will help ground you and keep you moving.
→ Put a plan in place
You should map out your runs the same way you plan the rest of your week (meals, family obligations, social commitments, etc.). Think about which days during the week will work best for running, and include a day or two for recovery as well. Add your runs to your calendar so they’re in front of you whenever you think about your day or week.
Of course, an emergency may come up, forcing you to postpone your run to a later time or date. That’s okay; you can be flexible. But barring unexpected situations, having a plan makes you less inclined to cancel on your run. You’re making a commitment to yourself that you’ll do something, and you’ll feel proud that you didn’t bail or talk yourself out of it.
→ Focus on the finish
Think about what it feels like to be on the other side of a run. Too often we’re quick to think of excuses: “It’s too early”; “I don’t have enough time”; “It’s too hot.” Instead, focus on the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have after 30 minutes or a mile, or whatever your chosen time or distance, as opposed to the apprehension. You can also think long-term: What larger running goal do you have? Each mile along the way is one small step toward a bigger achievement.
→ Stay positive
As a runner, you already do something that many others don’t. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. If you start thinking about skipping a run, become your own motivational speaker. Positive self-talk and reinforcement are skills you’ll need to continue running for the long haul. Appreciate that you’re able to get out there at all. Remind yourself that it’s okay to take a walk break, catch your breath, then try again. Instead of framing those moments in a negative way—“I had to stop and walk”—frame them in a positive way—“I was able to restart.”
Practicing these four tips will help you make running part of your lifestyle, not a chore you have to check off. Soon they’ll become second nature, and you can rely on them as your goals grow with you.