Running is one of those things that you don’t miss until you try it again after a long hiatus. I’ve recently been reminded of this as I just starting to get back into running myself.
I’ve been a runner for the past 13 years, about 9 of those competitively. I’ve run a couple of marathons, and know quite a bit about the sport. I believe it to be one of the best sports for individuals (though definitely not for spectators). I love running, but I took a long hiatus over the winter holidays because, well… it was really stinkin’ cold and snowy. As a result I slowly started gaining weight, and losing my shape. Bleah. With Summer just around the corner, it was definitely time for a change.
I’ve run all sorts of distances and races, and I can tell you that the absolute hardest runs are the ones when you’re just getting started. I’ve never been more reminded of that until recently.
While long-distance running is a test of perseverance, actually running on regular intervals can be an even bigger test of persistence. I’ve found that actually getting my lazy butt off the couch is usually harder than the runs themselves. Sound familiar to anyone else?
Luckily, there is hope. Once a runner has been running at regular intervals for a while, getting motivated for a run becomes much easier.
At this point, our bodies start craving the run.
Yes, we can actually become addicted to running (or physical activity in general). There are many benefits to running, from health to psychological (I’ve argued it boosts productivity too). But the addictive part mainly comes from the way pheromones (which improve your overall attitude), are released while running.
Running, especially outside and on trails, creates a release of endorphins that can cause euphoria (runner’s high) or just a general sense of happiness. Running has been used for years to treat clinical depression and addictions of all kinds. Less tension, less depression, less fatigue, and less confusion are just a few of the changes that patient’s have seen after beginning a regular running program. Running gives something for them to focus on, allowing them to see something besides their depressed state or addiction.
Interestingly enough, it looks like a running addiction can cure another addiction! But we’re straying from the point. Getting addicted to running is great for someone wanting to start a regular exercise schedule, but just hasn’t found the motivation. If you can force yourself to start running at regular intervals throughout the week, eventually it’ll be hard to stop. You won’t want to stop running.
Here are a few tips I’ve found stumbled upon over the past decade that can really keep you motivated and eventually at the point where running is a (good) addiction.
- Don’t give yourself any excuses. Everyone’s got reasons why they shouldn’t be exercising. But if you make it an important part of your day, it will be harder to make excuses not to.
- Run with other people. Nothing helps develop a habit like a little accountability.
- Reward, reward, reward. Give yourself little rewards for your diligence. There’s nothing wrong with a little superficial indulgence for diligence. It’s amazing how much these can help your overall outlook at running. Small bits of motivation add up.
- Run at the same time every day. Creating a running routine can help you quickly become accustomed to releasing those endorphins at the same time every day. Pretty soon you’ll be looking forward to your running times (no joke!).
- Run first thing in the morning. While it takes a bit to get your body accustomed to running in the AM, you’ll find that this is probably the best time for running, no matter where you live. While the rest of the world sleeps, you can navigate the streets or countryside without the heavy traffic of the rest of the day. It’s quieter, and there’s nothing like waking up to a beautiful
- Slow down, Tiger. One of the biggest problems people encounter while starting running is that they try do to too much too quickly. This will only burn you out, give you some injuries and quickly instill a hatred for running. Start slooooow. Build up your endurance. The only way to keep running every day is to take it slow at first.
- Be mindful of the benefits. Notice how much weight you’re losing, how much better you feel and all the other benefits that running gives. You’ll start seeing/feeling some of them instantly.
- Set goals. There’s nothing more empowering than accomplishing running goals. It boosts confidence and adds a little swagger in your step because you know you’re a champ. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
- Find a running routine that fits you. Plenty of people smarter than me have published running routines and goals to help you gauge how much to run each day. I’d recommend the Runner’s World Smart Coach to tailor a running plan that’s going to work for you.
- Track your progress. Like any activity, tracking your progress will keep you motivated to improve. If you’re into digital tools, try the Runner’s World Training Log. If you’re into paper, a paper calendar works fine. Just record your progress each day.
- See running as a release, not a chore. You’ve got to develop the mindset that this isn’t something you have to do, but rather something you get to do.
If you wanting to read more on the benefits of running, check out the entire article about the benefits of running at About.com. Very convincing if you’re thinking about starting it up.