Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
*Courtesy of Red Head On The Run
Running is not an easy sport. It’s so much more than just opening your front door and deciding to go for a run. It takes time, patience, consistency and dedication to make it stick. One of the things I hear most often is “I can start a running routine, but I just can’t seem to stick with it.” I get asked all the time how to stick to running. So let’s talk about that.
This isn’t complicated–I promise. Just a few simple steps can have you on your way to racing or simply just running recreationally. Either way, if it’s something you are wiling to commit yourself to, you can absolutely become a runner.
1. Have a Plan
I know this seems extremely cliché, and it’s not rocket science, but it’s true. Find and FOLLOW a training plan. C25k (couch to 5k) is a great place to start. It’s practical and doable for any beginner. It progresses you SLOWLY into running, which a lot of people don’t have the patience for. If you want to avoid injury and burnout, you have to start and progress slowly. If you want to get to the other side of the hard (and you will still have hard days. Everyone does), you have to stick to a plan and finish it. Getting through the first few days but then quitting because it’s hard and you decide you “just aren’t a runner” isn’t acceptable. You have to push yourself and get through it to reach the other side.
2. Prepare Mentally
Learning something new is hard. In one way or another tackling a new task can challenge you mentally, physically or emotionally. So, prepare mentally ahead of time. Tell yourself that quitting is NOT an option and that even WHEN this gets hard, you will stick to it. You are dedicated and committed. According to details.com, 66 percent of Americans set fitness goals as one of their New Years resolutions but 73 percent of those people give up before meeting their goal. Decide ahead of time that you won’t be part of that statistic.
3. Get the right gear
Running honestly doesn’t require that much in terms of gear and equipment. However a few of the right things will make a huge difference. Shoes are number one. You need a good pair of shoes. Go to a running store to have a gait analysis done so they can put you in the RIGHT shoe for your body, stride and foot strike. If you are on a tight budget, you can usually find last year’s model on sale online. So if you try on the “8” of a particular style of shoe, go look online to find the “7” from last year and more than likely it will be at a discounted price. Also, wicking fabric will go a long way in both winter and summer. This post on winter running gear should give you some ideas.
4. Set a realistic goal
Perhaps setting out to run a marathon when you’ve never run before is a bit of a lofty goal. Not at all impossible, but maybe not the best place to start, especially if you have struggled to maintain a running routine in the past. I’m not saying don’t set big goals, but start with goals that are attainable short-term that will eventually get you to those long-term goals. Start with a 5K. Heck, start with getting to the end of your street and back. Maybe that’s where you have to start and that’s totally ok. Whatever the goal, write it down and put it up where you can see it to serve as a reminder that when it’s hard and your body wants to quit, you keep pushing. One small goal can lead to great big ones and they are all worth being proud of.
5. Change your nutrition
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you can’t out-run a bad diet.” It’s true. You can’t put crap in and expect great results to come out. Feed your machine. Fuel your tank. I’m not a nutritionist but it’s not rocket science. Whole foods, lean proteins, veggies, fruit, water and low sugar intake will make running so much more enjoyable because your body will be thankful for the good fuel. You must eat. You need calories to do what you want your body to do, so treat it right. Please don’t starve yourself. And please don’t eat burgers every day and expect change. I ate a burger Friday night, so know I’m not talking to you as someone who never enjoys a good meal. But it’s not on the daily. It’s about moderation. Don’t restrict to a dangerous degree. It’s not wise or healthy and it won’t do your body any favors. It needs fuel, so give it some and do it in a way that is smart and healthy for not just your body, but your mind as well.
We could talk for days about running, fitness and how to stick to a new routine. If running isn’t your thing, it’s ok. Apply these same principles to anything new related to fitness. It’s going to be hard. Your body will be mad at you. But it is also so incredibly rewarding! Knowing you did something that you never imagined possible and seeing changes in your body you never thought you could see is amazing. But it starts with you. No one is dragging you out of bed, getting you dressed, feeding you and pushing you out the door. It has to come from your self-discipline, determination, consistency and drive. You can do anything you set your mind to.