Everybody has trouble staying motivated sometimes, whether it’s on an assignment, studying, a project on a co-op term, or when you’re trying to make a new habit. People often say that it takes 30 days to make or break a habit, but what they forget is that those 30 days are typically far more difficult if you’re trying to form a good habit rather than letting a bad one take root.
If you’ve decided to make running a habit, congratulations! If you haven’t started yet, it’s never too late to begin something new. Try your best to stick with it regularly for 30 days, and you’ll be on the road to running success in no time at all!
Some of the biggest hurdles in those 30 days will be the frustrations you feel, no matter your personal reason for running. These frustrations can be disheartening; no matter how long you’ve been running. They make that little voice in your head ask you questions you don’t want to answer: what do you think you’re doing? Are you crazy? Did you seriously think this would help you?
If you let that self-doubt get the better of you, your response to it might be: “maybe I’m not cut out for this.”
Don’t feel that way! It’s normal to get discouraged. The fact is that there is no such thing as a small achievement when it comes to forming a healthy lifestyle habit, like running regularly. It’s no easy task, but it’s incredibly rewarding once you’ve achieved it.
One of the first things you might have noticed if you’ve just started running is how sore your legs are, or maybe how stiff your back feels. What you’re feeling are tiny tears in your muscles, and these tears actually build more muscle as they repair themselves. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s also a reminder that the rewards from your hard work are building slowly and surely. A word of caution, however: if the soreness doesn’t go away in a day or so, you may need to back off running a little bit to give your body time to adjust. Use your common sense and you should be just fine.
If you’re discouraged because you haven’t seen any physical improvements yet, don’t worry. That’s normal! It takes time for change to happen. Focus on the little things you’ve been feeling. Are you more awake and energized? Has your mood improved? Are you able to focus better during the day? Do you sleep more soundly at night? Do you feel better about yourself in general? These are things to be proud of! Celebrate them, and remember that you’ll notice the big changes very soon.
If you’re having trouble with the little things, like getting out of bed in the morning to do your run or workout, there are a few tricks you can use. The first is to set out your workout clothes the night before, so that when you wake up you’ll be reminded of your commitment. If you have a coffee machine with a timer, set it to have your coffee ready as soon as you come in from your run. You could promise yourself little rewards, like treating yourself to a great dinner if you run 5 out of 7 days during the week. Whenever I’m having trouble motivating myself, I count how many miles I’ve done in my running shoes and figure out when I should replace them during my training plan. Having a date on the calendar to remind me that a reward in the form of new running shoes is coming really helps me get out the door.
You can also find a running partner. This person can be someone who is at the same point in their running as you are, or could be someone who is a little bit of a stronger runner. Setting a running date that you can both commit to will help get your run done, because you’ll have someone to hold you to it. Running with a partner is fun and can help you push yourself. If you don’t have a friend who wants to run with you, the EngSoc running club, the Accelerated Masses, meets every Monday at 6pm and Saturday at 11am on the POETS patio, and everyone is welcome to participate.
If you’re having trouble getting out the door because you don’t see where running will take you in the long term, the best idea is to set a goal you want to reach after a certain period of time. For example, if you’re just starting out, your goal may be to run 5 km by the end of the summer without needing to stop. If you’ve been running a little bit longer, you could set your sights on completing a road race in a certain amount of time. Or, if you’re up for a challenge, you could sign up for a half marathon in the fall.
It’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way. Did you work out or run 5 out of 7 days this week? That’s awesome! Did you run a little bit further or faster than you did the last time? Amazing! Did you roll out of your warm and cozy bed to go run even though you didn’t want to? That’s definitely earns you a pat on the back.
Hopefully these ideas will help you through those first 30 days. Remember: be proud of your accomplishments no matter how big or small, set a goal, and try not to lose heart. It’s never too late to start running, and it’s totally possible to learn to love it. You can do it!
If you have any questions about Accelerated Masses or about running in general, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The other pacers and I aren’t experts, but we might have the answers you need. Run happy!
Next IW issue: Eating well to run well