Updated: Jan 12
And the answer, of course, is always run – a few little tricks for consistency
I have just run my first half marathon after completing a 14 week training plan. It wasn’t an official race and I wasn’t chasing any numbers or trying to break any records. So why did I do it? Because I wanted to run. Isn’t it obvious? Moreover, I wanted to run consistently.
So many times I get asked how I keep myself motivated or why I choose to go for a run rather than stay at home and relax or, simply, if I’m completely crazy for being out there in the cold, in the rain, often at 5 am. So I’m going to share some of the tricks I use to shut up the little devil on my shoulder trying to steer me in the wrong direction and make me come to the dark side. And have cookies instead.
A million reasons to run
First of all, why do I run? I should ask you the exact opposite question: why don’t you run? Running is one of the best things in the world. And it’s so easy, too. You don’t need any special equipment other than maybe a pair of running shoes, no special skills, you can do it basically anywhere at any time and it’s really not that hard. Here’s what you do: you put on your running shoes, go outside and you run. That simple. I’m sorry did you expect some deep wisdom here? Pay attention then: if you do it consistently, you will get better and fitter, faster and stronger.
However, what I really love about running is the mental aspect, the effect it has on everything else in my life. Yes, I do it to stay in shape in general. But most of all, I do it because every day that starts with a run is a good day. Running in the morning helps me clear my head, get mentally ready for all the challenges waiting for me later on, and keep on track with other things, such as eating healthy and sleeping well. In other words, staying dedicated and consistent with my running helps me stay dedicated and consistent with everything else. And, as I have said so many times before, consistency is the key to success.
So how do I manage to stay consistent? Well, I’ve got a couple of tricks.
5 easy tricks for consistency
TRICK #1: Have a plan. Without a plan, all you’re doing is improvising and that’s not going to take you far. Having a training plan is crucial. So I found a nice little 14 week plan, consisting of 5 runs a week: 2 recovery runs, 2 speed runs (these include intervals of all possible lengths and efforts, tempo and fartlek runs) and one long run to end the week. Perfect. Step one: complete.
TRICK #2: Schedule it. Ideally on a weekly basis. Write it in your planner, your phone, stick it on your fridge or on the wall, whatever. Me, I have a huge white board right across my bed and I do the following: every Sunday I write all the classes and training sessions I have scheduled for the upcoming week. Then, I look at my running plan and place all the runs like nice little puzzle pieces around the rest. And yes, things don’t always go by the plan, so it’s important to be flexible. That’s why a whiteboard is so useful. If I don’t manage to do a run on a certain day for any reason, I just erase and reschedule it. Sometimes (though rarely) I have to skip a couple of days in a row. It’s not the end of the world either, as long as I get right back on track. But until the run is done, it will keep staring at me from that whiteboard.
TRICK #3: Prepare. Mentally. Every night before I go to bed, I look at my board and the run scheduled for the next day. It is important that I go to bed knowing exactly what is waiting for me and when, and making the decision to do the run before I go to sleep. It is especially important if the run is scheduled for the morning. That way, when the alarm goes off, I am waking up with determination, ignoring all the tempting excuses the little devil is whispering in my ear.
TRICK #4: Outsmart the devil. Here’s another thing I do before I go to sleep. I check the weather forecast. Is there really much point in doing that in London? Not really, no. I do it anyway and here’s why. If it’s supposed to rain the next morning, I accept it in advance. I say to myself: tomorrow morning I am going for a run in the rain. Or in freezing cold or wind or whatever the English weather has in mind. This way, when I wake up and my little devil is trying to convince me to stay in bed because the weather is horrible and no sane person would go out for a run, it has no effect on me. Because I already know that there is a rainstorm outside. And I’ve decided to run anyway, so all his efforts are in vain. Rain is one of the most common excuses people use for postponing or skipping a run. Well guess what. Unless you live in the Sahara, if you keep waiting for the rain to stop, especially here in Britain, you’re not going do a lot of running. So skip the excuses.
TRICK #5: Brag. Tell people you’re going for a run. Every time somebody asks me what my plans are for the day, I start my sentence with: “I’m going for a run and… (whatever else I have scheduled)” Making yourself accountable to other people puts a sort of pressure on you, because you want to stay true to your words, right? So go ahead and brag about the runs you’re about to do. I’ve been bragging about this half marathon for weeks to everyone who asked about my plans. And those who didn’t… No way I was going to bail after all that talk!
So here you go, that’s my secret to consistency. Simple and effective. As for motivation, I don’t have to look too far. If you’ve read my previous post, you know that I run simply for the joy of running. Out of all the benefits I’ve listed before, the single most important thing for me is this: it makes me feel good. So if you find something that you enjoy and makes you feel good, whether it be running or anything else, you will see how easy it is to motivate yourself to do it.
And whatever your chosen activity is, make sure you have a plan. If you struggle with being consistent try some of these tricks and let me know how it goes. And remember, the answer is always run!
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to run in the rain.