For runners, lack of training consistency is the bane of our existence. You miss one day, you tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow. You miss tomorrow, you might push it to next week. If you’re off long enough, picking it up literally feels like starting over again, which means you’re going to want to put it off even more. Much like all of our other habitual routines, running requires a schedule. It has to fit somewhere, comfortably.
You wouldn’t schedule morning runs if you’re not a morning person (at all) or evening runs if you like to go out (every) night unless, of course, you enjoy exercising Herculean self-control. But you do have to start somewhere, so let’s get to it!
First: you start with a goal.
I’m going to run twice a week for a month, a mile every other day, or 10 minutes every evening. Any goal. Just make sure you set one. And choose something that you could be excited about! Start a brief running streak or try for a personal best on your mile.
Having a goal teases out your inner stick-to-it-ness. If you were running 100 days in a row and, on day 99, they forecast that a hurricane will roll in at 5am – you can bet yourself that you’d be up at 4am to knock out that second to last run. And if that storm’s still around on day 100, you’d probably run around your house to make sure you finish off your streak.
Plan it and put it on a calendar.
You won’t do it forever, but having structure around the early repetitions give you momentum. And looking at a calendar, or some kind of training plan, really does give you a sense of where your running fits. Try out these resources:
- Training Logs in the form of spreadsheets
- Create your own training plan
- Calculate your training paces with McMillan’s Running Calculator
- Train for a race and shoot for a time
When I get stuck in a rut and each run feels like work, I create a running schedule. I plan out each and every run, right down to pacing and my running route. Once I’ve invested the time in planning it, I actually feel more compelled to do it.
It’s okay to compromise.
Having a to-do list doesn’t always mean things get done. Train intuitively. If you’re having a bad day, you might not feel like going out for a proper run, but you might really enjoy blowing off steam by sprinting a few hundred meters (several times) – then have a beer after (yeah!)
Occasionally, we overestimate ourselves and plan (silly) 10-mile runs on a weekday only to change our mind the day of. That’s always tough, because changing the plan is almost like missing a day.
Do what works for you, then more forward. Pick up wherever you left off the day after. Every runner has his/her bad day(s). Accept it and then realize how awesome you are for having knocked out a run anyway
Remember that you are the sole beneficiary of your training schedule. Don’t make it (too) hard on yourself. Here’s some ideas for finding your ‘perfect’ time to run:
- If you’re an early-riser, schedule your runs around sunrise – it gives you something to look forward to.
- Keep your running gear close to you. Bring it to work. Leave it in your car.
- Have a running partner – it forces you to be committed. Better yet, try out a running group.
- “Run” errands if or when you can – as in run to the store, the post office, or the gym.
- Run to work or run home. You might be surprised to find yourself running faster than public transportation.
- Make running an excuse to clear your head. Like an appointment for weekly therapy, but free.
- Run faster, shorter runs.
- Break up your planned run – 10K today? Run what you can in the morning and finish it off in the evening.
No excuses. Just make it happen.