4 tips to help form a running habit

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One of the ways of achieving my New Years Resolution of toning up, is to form a running habit. Over the years I have had an extremely sporadic relationship with running. At my best, I ran the Reading half marathon and frequently ran 10ks around the hour mark. There has been lots of other times where I can’t muster up the motivation to go out for a run at all, or if I have, I’ve really hated it, as it has felt so awful.

As with all my resolutions this year, I’ve broken it down, to help me identify how I am going to achieve it. With the running its all focused on creating a mini habit and building it up over time almost without me even realising:

1) Run, every day

Come what may I will go for a run every day. Even if it is 5 mins, I will go, in order to form the habit. The less time I run for the faster I will aim for, so I am still challenging myself even if I am spending only a short time running.

2) Work towards targets

I have given myself small, manageable targets to achieve, so I have something to aim for. With this I am in competition with myself, always trying to better my time or distance.

My 1st target is to master 2.5k in 15 minutes. You can always find 15 mins out of your day to exercise. If I keep at it, I should be able to complete 2.5kms in 15 mins, then try to do it without it being uncomfortable and make it feel like second nature.

Once I have cracked the 2.5k, it’s about building it up to 5k in 30 minutes. I have an excel spreadsheet that shows how far I need to have run in how many minutes to build up to 5k in 30 mins. I will keep on building up my time little by little and if I am running for shorter distances, I’ll start to try and run faster and beat the times. If I can achieve 5k in 30 minutes, I will be satisfied I have been successful at this goal.

3) Using Technology to track progress

There are loads of apps that help you track your runs and any other exercise you might do. These allow you to monitor progress and see how you are improving over time. I use Runkeeper which shows you how far you have run, how quickly you ran and it also breaks it down into average speed per kilometre as well as overall. The great thing with Runkeeper is that it keeps a record of all the runs you have done, so it makes it very easy to track your activity and see how you are progressing.

4) Add a competitive element

If you find someone else interested in running, even if they are not physically running with you, you can still compete with them. I am trying to get my run at the same time as one of my friends, so if we run together I will not be trailing behind. You could also enter a competition to give yourself a target to aim for and to help have something to train for.

If I am using RunKeeper, it makes me run faster as I know my results will be visible to my friends also using the app. As I am running I get spurred on thinking everyone else will see my time, so I don’t want it to be really slow.

If you follow these 4 steps, I am certain you will have formed a running habit in no time!


Have you formed a running habit? I’d love to hear how you did it in the comments.

1 Comment

  1. Dan Johnson January 11, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    I certainly have! I wrote a blog post just over a year ago when I started, and another just recently about forming habits in general.

    Like you, I found the best thing was to do it every day, even if it’s only a short distance. Even now, my regular daily run during the week is only 2 miles, with a longer one most weekends. I have definitely noticed that those 2 miles get much easier over time, and I can run them faster than I used to.

    I also listen to audiobooks while running, or occasionally some music if I’m lacking energy and need a bit of a boost. I can sometimes get lost in a good audiobook and lose track of time.

    I prefer not to track myself though (unless I’m trying a new route, or I need to run a certain distance), and just focus on enjoying the run without thinking about time or distance.

    Whatever works for you though! It’s over a year later, and I’m still running almost every day, so I consider that habit well and truly formed!


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