Running: Keeping It Up

Perhaps the most important step in running is sticking at it. In this article, a few common techniques to help maintain motivation will be mentioned, with the aim of providing ideas to those who are starting to lose interest.

Habit Building

The hardest runs are the first few. Once you've been running for a while, it becomes a habit, and no longer requires such a large effort to begin. It's important to convert the initial enthusiasm for a new activity into a long lasting enjoyment, until it becomes a part of daily life.

For example, you may choose to run after work on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. The first week or two, it will be a very conscious effort, with each run potentially being the last. However, eventually it simply becomes part of your routine, along with brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. Once this happens, the chance of quitting drastically reduces, as each run is no longer daunting.

Limit Yourself

It's far, far better to run 3 miles 3 times a week than do a 8 mile run every week or two. Combined with the previous section, smaller runs are a far more effective way to maintain the habit. Whilst it can be easy to delay your weekly run by a day, that quickly snowballs into a few days, a week, and then the habit is lost. With small, regular runs your body can improve steadily, instead of being overexerted and damaged with every long, irregular run.

Additionally, these longer runs can very easily be detrimental to your health, and leave you worse off than if you hadn't run at all.

Running Socially

Running with others also greatly helps reduce the risk of dropping the running habit. It transforms running from a solo activity that requires motivation into a group activity that requires basic social etiquette. Finding people to run with can be hard, so many people mix group sessions with solo sessions, depending on what times are possible for their running partners. As I tend to run in the morning before work, finding people willing to wake up earlier to spend half hour in the cold wasn't easy! 

Running with a partner is also a good bonding experience, although if there is a difference in ability solo runs should also be maintained. 

No Excuses

Unfortunately for us, our body likes sitting around doing nothing. If it's raining outside, that's an excellent excuse to stay inside. If it is still dark, another excellent excuse. Friends coming over later? Yet another excuse. Overcoming these excuses is essential, and I found the easiest way to be taking a very hard line to them. No matter the weather, situation, time, I had to stick to my routine. 

Next Steps

The longer the habit has been maintained, the easier it becomes to maintain. Each run will also tire you less than the previous one, as your body begins to anticipate the energy expenditure. Once a certain distance has been maintained comfortably for a couple of weeks, it's worth trying out a longer route. Tactics like these are how people eventually have seemingly absurd 30-40 mile/week routines; by building them up bit by bit.
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