The idea of running is great. Just step out the door and glide round the block, through the local park, and return home for a relaxing shower. Indeed, once you get into the habit, you’ll experience the effects of what is popularly known as the “runner’s high”. Your brain will start releasing feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and endocannabinoids while you are on the move, inspiring you to continue exercising even more. It’s eaaaassssyyyy! But, and this is a really big but, before you can enjoy these benefits, you need to be able to push yourself out the door in the first place. The big question is how to get into the habit of running so you don’t stop after two weeks.
How to get into the habit of running: The simple way
Unfortunately, experts say that you cannot rely on sheer willpower. According to some experts, when we leave it up to our willpower to take action, its limited resources are overwhelmed quickly. Your resolve becomes weak during moments of stress and fatigue, and your willpower succumbs to the numerous other things that look more appealing than running. To overcome this quandary, here is a detailed strategy on how to get into the habit of running.
1. PLAN AHEAD
According to Duhigg, habits are made up of unique groups of cues (such as mood, time, place, music, certain people, etc.), a reward (e.g. smoothie, hot shower, massage, chocolate, etc.), and a routine (in this case, running). From this end, you can begin by choosing some cues (such as the best route to take, the most convenient time to run, etc.) and rewards that will motivate you to run. Using these cues and rewards, write down a proper plan and post it somewhere you can see effortlessly.
If you run in the morning, you could preload your iPod with energizing music mix. Then decide on a long, hot, relaxing shower as your reward. Every time you hear the music in the morning, you set off to run as usual. All with the image of a long, soothing, hot shower at the back of your mind. Write down this plan and post it somewhere you can see it. Try adhering to it for one week. If you find yourself giving in to temptations, try using different cues or rewards.
2. BE CONSISTENT
The success of your new running habit will depend on your consistency. Create and maintain a regular routine that automatically signals to your mind and body when it is time to run. This includes choosing a specific time of day for the exercise and sticking to it. Try placing your running clothes beside the bed before going to sleep. Also listen to the same workout music when you go out. According to experts, this is necessary in order to create neural pathways that will eventually turn the exercise into a habit.
3. REWARD YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY
Prepare instant rewards to enjoy after your run. This could be anything you genuinely love, like a small piece of dark chocolate, a smoothie, or a hot shower. The idea is to help your brain associate the activity with an immediate reward and ultimately make it automatic. And the only way to teach your brain about reward is through experience.
4. ESTABLISH A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM
Try and incorporate stimulating activities into your running routine to make things more interesting. You could, for instance, squeeze in some socializing time by meeting up with a few friends during the run. Remember to keep tabs on your progress and fitness improvements by tracking your miles.
This four step system should set you up nicely to keep you running regularly.
If you have any other tips on how to get into the habit of running, just drop them below in the comments.