How To Start A Daily Running Habit
by DARIUS FOROUX
Many of us love the thought of running. But running every single day often seems like an impossible thing to do. However, starting a daily running might be more achievable than you think.
12 months ago I ran exactly 0 miles a week. But now, I’m running 20 miles a week. I’m not saying that to brag. I know people who run three times more than that. Compared to them, I’m a rookie runner.
I’m not an athletic person, nor was I in great shape. I just went to the gym two times a week. That means this: If I can start a daily running or exercise habit, so can you.
I don’t know where to begin when people ask me about the benefits of daily exercise. My intention here is not to get into the science, but this is what daily exercise has done for me:
- It cured my lower back problems
- It gave me more confidence
- It made me less stressful
- It gave me tons of ideas
- It made me look fit
If you want to get into the science of all those things, I recommend you to read Spark by John Ratey.
Running every day is easier said than done, so here are 7 lessons I learned that can help you build this habit.
1. Don’t Think
Previously, I‘d have a conversation in my head that went like this:
“Should I go for a run or not? Well, today was a long day, and I just want to relax now. Tomorrow is probably better. Or maybe I should go for a quick one.”
Admit it, you’ve had that conversation at least once in the last week. That thinking process is called ‘analysis paralysis’, which is state of over-thinking.
End result? You end up making no decision at all.
How about this: Run every day. There’s nothing to decide. You just go—every day. That makes things a lot easier.
2. Find A Schedule That Suits You
Try to fit your daily run in your current lifestyle. You don’t have to wake up at 4 AM to go for a run if you’re not a morning person. Try different things and stick to what works best for you.
When I started, I tried running in the morning, I tried before my lunch break, and I also tried running before dinner.
Currently, I prefer to exercise after a day’s work and before dinner. There’s no best time for exercise. There’s only a best time for you—find out what that is.
When exercise becomes an integral part of your day and you feel weird if you don’t go for a run, you’re building the habit.
3. Minimize Landing Shock
Many think that running is easy. In my six months of running, I’ve read countless articles, talked to experts and running coaches, and read books about running.
One of the best books that I’ve read on running is Daniel’s Running Formula. The number one advice I got from that book is to increase your stride rate. Daniel’s advice is to run with a stride rate of around 180 steps per minute to minimize the landing shock.
When I started, I took long, heavy strides. That will increase your chances to get injured. Instead, try to make smaller, lighter strides. And try to keep your feet under your upper body when you land.
There’s no conclusive evidence that either front-, mid-, or rearfoot landing is superior. Instead of figuring out what’s the perfect strike, try run at 180 steps per minute. You will automatically use a foot-strike that is natural to you when you increase your stride rate.
When you start a daily running habit, the last thing you want to do is over-complicated things. Just focus on your stride rate — try to run like a feather.
4. Start Slowly
If you’re completely out of shape, start with walking 15 minutes a day. In your second week go out for 20 minutes. Keep increasing your daily walking distance with small increments until you reach 45 minutes a day.
If you’re in slightly better shape, try running and walking. Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes, run 5 minutes, etc.
When you start, the point is to focus on the habit, so you don’t want to worry about strict running plans.
Tell yourself that you’re creating a habit, not a marathon-ready body. Try to improve your shape just a little bit every day.
5. Rest Before You Get Tired
Because you want to run every day, you can’t give it your 100% every day. If you go all out every day, you’ll be dead tired after a few days.
Listen to your legs. If your muscles are aching, go for a 30-minute walk. Remember: You’re building a habit — consistency is key.
Even when you’re more advanced, always rest before you get tired. You don’t have to run daily from the start.
It took me 8 months before I could run 6 days a week. Before that, I would run 4 days and walk the other days. And even before that, when I started, I ran 2 times and walked at least 30 minutes on the days.
6. Buy 2 Pairs Of Running Shoes
This is the easiest thing on this list. Trust me—get two pairs of running shoes.
My feet slightly over pronate when I run. So I have one pair that has support, and one pair that is for neutral runners.
Try not to wear the same shoe twice in a row. Also, I like to switch shoes. Running feels different with different shoes — and since I started running with a neutral shoe, my over pronation has been less.
If you’re serious about running every day, you need the gear to support that habit. How much is a gym membership? I don’t get that people try to save money on running gear while they are paying for a gym membership that they never use.
7. Love It
The effect that running has on your body and mind is magical. I love to talk and read about running.
Even tough it’s not a technical book — every runner should read Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It’s a great story about why people run.
I also keep a journal of all my runs. I use a heart rate monitor to train more specific nowadays. And currently, I’m getting into dieting for runners.
Running is a fantastic sport that never bores you. There are unlimited ways you can train, and there are countless places on earth you can run.
The possibilities are endless, and so is the road ahead of you.
This article was originally published on dariusforoux.com.