Once you’re doing it regularly, running is extremely rewarding. In addition to checking the exercise box for the day, running is therapeutic and great way to get some alone time, or to nurture a friendship or relationship if you prefer to run with someone.
Having said that, getting there is tough! The beginning of your running training is undeniably the hardest part, and it only gets easier over time with regularity.
So how do we get there? How do we make running a habit in 30 days? Below are some crucial tips that helped me learn how to run properly and stick to a running program, which builds the habit that now feels like a total privilege.
Why Am I Running?
This is a crucial question to ask yourself early on. For many of us, running has always been mandatory, or it was used as punishment. We either had to run the mile for time in school, or a sports coach threatened us with laps if we didn’t behave accordingly.
Now that we’re aiming to make running a habit and to truly reap its benefits, we need to know why we’re doing it. More specifically, we need to make sure we’re not running for the wrong reasons.
If you feel pressured to run by someone else, you’re right back in P.E. class. Be sure that this is your goal and no one else’s, and get excited by that!
It’s a privilege to be able to take time for yourself, clear your head, and improve your fitness along the way.
For me, my mindset towards running shifted when I joined a running club in high school. The club was totally recreational, and peoples’ skill levels were varied. The club was not necessarily aimed at running for beginners, but there were many such aspiring runners like me in the group.
We were united in the fact that we wanted to run. It was the first time running had been on my terms, and I felt liberated by that. And when you are choosing to do something, you are more willing and able to see the benefits of it.
Run Club was the first time I noticed the beautiful trails around my high school, and the mental clarity I had when I was finished. All of this may have been there when I had been made to run, but I was too busy feeling forced to notice.
Take pride in the fact that this is your goal, and soon it will be your habit.
Finding A Running Program
The key to make running a habit is to do it consistently; there is simply no way around that. In order to do this, find or create a running program.
This can be as simple as you writing down your running plans for the month in a planner and checking them off as you go. If you’d like a bit more structure, there are many running training plans online that have already designed your workouts for you.
Choose a training plan that aligns with your goals!
Whatever you’re after, spell out how you’re going to get there. Making running a habit in 30 days is going to require consistent running for 30 days, so be sure your running program spells out your runs and workouts for the full month.
The longer you go without missing a workout, the more you’ll want to keep your streak going!
If your running program is too difficult at the beginning, you will likely give up before running becomes a habit. This often happens because your runs are making you feel defeated, which is not a feeling you want to return to.
However, if your running program is too easy, you may move on to something else because you’re not seeing results.
This strategy worked extremely well in order for me to improve and see results without doing too much too fast.
These numbers are geared toward beginning runners, but feel free to adjust given your experience level.
To begin, walk for 90 seconds, and then run for 30 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about your speed or your distance, just focus on running consistently for spurts of 30 seconds, and walk for 90 seconds in between to catch your breath.
Aim to do this workout 3 times per week, 4 for a bonus. Every week, increase either the time you spend running, or the overall span of the workout (maybe on week 2 you keep the structure as is, but bump up the elapsed time to 12 minutes).
As your body adapts, you will be able to minimize the time needed to catch your breath, and you will be able to run for longer.
One of my favorite things about this method is the tangible results you start seeing right away. Once I felt like I was making progress via this run-walk method, I was motivated to keep going until I could try other, more challenging workouts.
Before I knew it I was running for 30 minutes without stopping, something I had never been able to do before!
Who’s Holding You Accountable?
Running only gets easier by running. If there was a shortcut to make running easier, everyone would be a marathon finisher, right?
This is why committing to a running program for 30 days is far more likely to make running a habit than running once a week for several months. The 30-day approach allows you to check off more runs in a shorter amount of time, which means running becomes easier and more enjoyable quicker, making you want to stick with it for longer.
So how do we ensure that we stick to our 30-day program? Find a way to hold yourself accountable.
Friends + Family
If you like running with someone else or with a group, there’s your answer. Grab a friend or a few friends who are also interested in making running a habit, and set up your training plans together.
Don’t worry about experience level! All you need is someone who knows whether or not you ran when you were supposed to. Just make sure you start (and end if possible) with your training partner(s) so that you both have someone to hold you accountable for your run schedule.
If you prefer running solo, no worries. If you feel comfortable sharing your run goals with a spouse or a friend, do it! This way even if they were not present on your run, they can still shoot over a text or ask you that night if you got your run in that day like you were supposed to.
Online Running Communities
Online running communities are another stellar option for accountability. There are plenty of Facebook groups and things of that sort with a whole network of people who support you, and just want to see you succeed.
Maybe you post in the morning sharing that you plan to run for 20 minutes that day, and then a fellow member comments to see how it went? Little interactions like that will go a long way in holding you accountable. The main goal is just to make sure you stick to your plan until running becomes enjoyable enough that you don’t feel the urge to skip your workouts anymore.
It feels great to post a view from your run or a post-workout selfie and have a support system excited to congratulate you! Be proud of what you’re doing and utilize the benefits of a large supportive online community.
And if running is a totally private endeavor for you, that works too. I recommend starting a training journal where you simply write down your running plan, and then write on each day what you did to accomplish your running goals.
Having to write down that you didn’t make it out for your run that day will likely motivate you to stick to your plan.
No matter your method of accountability, use it to track not only whether you’re sticking to your schedule, but also how it’s going. Are you falling asleep easier than you used to? Do you have more mental clarity at work? Are you losing weight? Whatever the benefits might be, it’s great to look back and see how far you will have come in 30 days.
30 days is not a long time in the grand scheme of things. Tell yourself that you are committing to something for just one month.
I promise that once you see progress and start to reap the benefits of running, it will become a habit naturally. You will want to continue well after the 30 days. Who knows? That one month may inspire you to sign up for a 5K or an even longer race, and by that point you’ll be ready to bump the training to pre-race level.
Find a running program, utilize the run-walk method, be sure you’re not overdoing it too quickly, and be sure to hold yourself accountable.
Once 30 days are up, running is going to feel easier and that means it will be more enjoyable. You are capable of whatever you set your mind to, and you can set your mind to anything for just 30 days. Happy Running!