At the new year, thousands of people make resolutions to change or improve their health habits.
An upgraded fitness routine often sets its sights on a larger goal, like a completing a marathon. But it's a long way from your couch to pounding out those 26.2 miles, and many of us leave our resolutions in the dust by the time February rolls around.
This year, try something new with these tips to make your running resolution outlast the season. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. Once you have the OK, here are some steps to make it happen.
1. Set Yourself up for Success
While running is a great activity because it requires very little equipment and can be done almost anywhere, there are a few items that are essential. A quality pair of running shoes is nearly non-negotiable to reduce injuries that can hamper your success. Appropriate clothing and adequate hydration are also tremendously important and will help you keep up your running routine. Don't forget to stretch!
2. Make a Process Goal
For runners who are new to the sport, a distance goal may be disheartening when they compare themselves to their experienced buddies. Instead, set a goal that encourages the process, such as running or jogging four days a week. Once your habit is well established, you can turn your focus to distance and time.
3. Compete With Your Friends
Researchers have determined that when people compete in games tracking their progress with friends for rewards, they are more likely to achieve their goals. Wearable technology and connected apps make it easy to track your progress, and the visibility to others increases your accountability. Other fitness-minded pals can track and compare your progress, whether it's steps, miles or minutes. So team up with some pals this year for some friendly competition to push yourself to reach your goal. The reward is up to you! Websites and apps can help facilitate these challenges with friends.
4. Pay Up
Psychology experts know that behavior change comes from rewarding good behavior, but also from penalizing unwanted behavior. Newer apps have adapted this operant conditioning to fitness goals, but you can do the same thing on your own. Set up a system with a partner, child or loved one to outline your daily goals and a corresponding penalty if you don't hit them. For example, if you don't go for your early morning run, you would have to wash the dishes, make your partner breakfast in bed or pay them money. Try making the penalty worse than any reason not to run so that reaching your goal is always the preferable choice.
5. Run (or Walk) With a Purpose
Run to get the kids from school and walk home with them. Run to the bank to make a deposit. Run to the park to feed the ducks. Walk in an area to enjoy the beautiful scenery. However you're getting those steps in, integrate moving as an enjoyable part of your daily life.
6. Commit to a Race and Then Train for It
Whether a marathon or 5K, running in a race can be incredibly motivating. Themed races can add to the fun and enjoyment of the race, and marathons in beautiful locales can turn a running resolution into an excuse for the vacation of a lifetime. For example, Abbott World Marathon Majors features marathons in Tokyo, London, Boston, New York, Chicago, and Berlin. Sign up for a race, make your reservations, and get training!
7. Avoid Guilt
Making healthy lifestyle changes is rarely a linear endeavor. Your training likely will be one of ups and downs. Everyone has days where they choose watching a movie on the couch over getting in their run. The key is not to let short-term slip-ups derail your long-term goals. Celebrate your successes without dwelling on shortcomings. And tomorrow, lace up your shoes and hit the pavement.