If there is one critical aspect of a running program, it is consistency. Without consistency, you won’t get faster, run further, attain a health goal (ie: lowering blood pressure), finish that race in your desired time, or ultimately reach your running goals. You’re also more likely to get injured when you “start and stop, and start again.” As such, some tips to ensure you run more consistently are below.
“What is really required is a little exercise constantly; this will benefit you permanently to a far greater degree than a single heavy dose at long intervals.” – Tim Noakes
And yes, while we may know how important consistency is, it doesn’t mean it comes easy. Motivation and good habits are two key drivers. The below 10 tips focus on both aspects to help you become a more consistent, and successful, runner. Of course, these tips and principles can apply to many fitness related goals.
Tips to Run Consistently
1 Do It Early. A tip to run more consistently: run early. As the day goes on, we are distracted, our energy zapped, and our willpower evaporates. Putting your workout first means you don’t need to contend with any of that, AND you start the day on a positive note. And, likely have more energy for the day as well.
2. Log Your Runs. Keeping a journal of your runs (distance, pace, time, etc.) can be a source of inspiration, and knowledge. It is exciting to see those miles add up, and your speed increase. I use the Nike Run Club App, but there are many options, especially if you have a running watch (Garmin, Strava, etc.).
3. Sign up for a Race. Nothing “scares you” into training like signing up for a race. You’ve paid for it, and you want it to be a successful outing! Not to mention it is a social event, that can inspire you, challenge you, and spark you to sign up for yet another race once it’s complete.
4. Run with Others. Having company makes your runs more fun, and you more accountable. Thus, you run more consistently. Why? You have the “pressure” of knowing that someone, or a group is counting on you.
Stay on the Consistency Train
5. Cross Train. Yes, if you want to run faster/longer, running needs to be the priority. But, little variety also means boredom, and likely more injuries. Both which will sabotage your training plan and motivation. Some good options are strength training, elliptical training, pool running, walking, swimming, etc. Start with adding one cross-training workout a week, and you can vary the type of workout as well.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
6. Find a Coach. I have a coach, and he lives in Pennsylvania, far from Woodstock, GA. Yet, with virtual training apps (ie: Training Peaks, Sixcycle), an amazing amount of info can be shared easily over your computer/phone, etc. Of course, coach services vary, but the majority provide a customized training plan based on YOU; your current fitness level, goals, and available time. This tip frees some of the thinking and worrying around your training plan, and will allow you to run more consistently.
7. Be Ready. Have a runner gym bag ready in your car with the essentials (running clothes/shoes/socks/hat/sunscreen/etc.) or under your desk at work. The night before your run (assuming an early a.m. run), have everything ready to make the morning transition easier. I have a friend who at times sleeps in her running clothes! If lack of time in the morning is a barrier, this tip will help you run more consistently.
Wait, there’s more!
8. Run BEFORE You Get Home. Another tip to run consistently, be aware that once you’re home, distractions zap your motivation! A couch is the equivalent of motivation quicksand. Plan to meet a friend or group on your way home, or run from your office, at a park nearby instead.
9. Stay Hydrated, Nourished and Rested. Good nutrition and hydration before, during and after a run are key, and a whole other topic related to running/fitness success. Suffice to say you are more likely to run if you are not hungry, dehydrated, or tired.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
10. Be Reasonable in Your Goals and Plan. Start Small(er). Yes, the tip to sign up for a race will improve your ability to run more consistently. Yet, if you’re a new runner, a marathon is likely an unreasonable goal, and potentially will lead to injury. Pick a plan and race for example where you can successfully train based on your time, and current fitness level. Nothing is more demotivating than feeling as if you can’t keep up with your training schedule (and again, this is where a coach is helpful). Demotivation crushes consistency!