How to Form a Long-term Running Habit
Running, like other physical activities, is most beneficial when done consistently. Let us explore why we need to make running a long-term habit versus an on-again-off-again pursuit.
How long does it take to form a habit
According to author Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of doing a particular task to make it a habit. While the exact duration is up for debate, it is clear that any activity needs quite a few repetitions before it can turn into a habit. However, it is likely that this duration would differ from person to person.
How to make running a habit
Think about some of your current habits. Maybe you get out of bed and make a beeline straight for the coffee maker, or put on the seatbelt immediately after you get into a car. These behavioral patterns have been developed over time through numerous repetitions as your brain “wires” you to get accustomed to the activity.
Time it right: For running to become a habit, you need to ensure that it encounters as few barriers as possible. For instance, if you schedule a run during lunchtime, what are the chances of it being postponed or canceled due to myriad work commitments? Quite high, right? But if you schedule it early in the morning, all you’d need to do is to convince yourself to get out of bed.
Persist: For beginners in running or any other sport, there is some inevitable initial discomfort. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common companion of new runners. Other “pain points” are fatigue and muscle/ joint discomfort. These typically subside as your body adapts to the running process. However, it’s important to not give up and continue running to allow your body the time to adapt.
Be consistent: Chalk out a routine and follow it. For instance, perhaps you run every Monday after work, and meet your pals at the local running club every Wednesday at 6.30 am, followed by a Friday run again post work. Continuity is the best way to establish habits and before long, you’d find yourself covering your running schedule on autopilot.
Strategies to maintain a running habit
Chalking out a few strategies can help maintain your running habit in the long run.
- Join a running club or pair up with a friend for weekly runs
- Work with a coach to keep you accountable
- Set short and long-term goals
- Use a step/ fitness tracker
- Keep a running diary
- Create a reward system
- Sign up for a race
Like all things new, creating a running habit is largely about pushing yourself to take that first step till you don’t have to think about it consciously at all. It’s about reminding yourself why you started running in the first place till you can’t imagine living without it. As any experienced runner would tell you, this sport is a way of life and for keeps.