I am often asked how I was able to push through the tough times of running, back when it wasn’t ‘fun’. For so many people, the monotony and boredom is so overwhelming that they can’t stick with it. I often find myself telling people the key to running enjoyment and improved performance is Consistency.
Like a metronome, tick-tocking back and forth, improving our running isn’t about the repetitive one foot in front of the other, but more about one day after another; building consistency until it becomes a habit and second nature. There are three helpful concepts that you can use to help build consistency:
- 1. Training plans – you can find these just about anywhere, from thousands of websites to just about any of the published magazines. They all have plans that can be, or already are tailored to help you reach your goals. It doesn’t matter if you want to run your first 5k or shoot for a new marathon personal record, there is a plan for you. Sticking to that plan allows you to know exactly what you need to do to build consistent workouts and form habits. While you may not always need a detailed training plan, they are amazing tools for developing runners and aspiring athletes targeting new goals.
- 2. Motivation – we all need it, but often don’t know where to find it. A few tools that I have found helpful are running-related magazines, interesting websites, running location, and running partners. Motivation is a topic of its own and will be addressed in detail in a later post. The only thing I’ll add is that personally, my motivation comes from being able to run trails. I love being on dirt in the hills and mountains. It’s all I need to motivate me to get out there each day.
- 3. Accountability – another topic that will be addressed in detail in its own post. Accountability is a brilliant principle that can motivate you to consistently train. A friend of mine who was attempting to lose weight and also train for a sprint triathlon, started posting his weight on the outside of his cubicle at work. Each week he would weigh himself and post his new weight in big block letters on the outside wall of his cubicle. Over 12 weeks the trend of papers grew, and dropped. This accountability forced him to maintain a high level of consistency and in that 12 weeks he lost over 50 lbs and was more than ready for his race. While this exact method doesn’t apply to everyone, being accountable by waking up early for a group run or tracking your workouts on a social-running related website can be invaluable to help you build consistency in your training.
Whether you implement one or all three of these principles, building consistency can help improve not only your ability to train, but your enjoyment of it. The satisfaction that comes from knowing you are meeting or exceeding your goals is the best motivator you have for success. So if you sitting there reading this and it’s been a few days since your last workout, get out there and go do it! You’ll be happier for it.