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8 Steps to a Successful Running Habit

Improve Your Running Motivation

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Updated March 25, 2013

Some people start out with good intentions to maintain a regular running habit, but eventually give up after a couple of weeks. It can take about four to six weeks to develop a habit, so it does take some perseverance to make your new running habit stick. Try some of these tips to maintain your motivation and determination to keep running.

1. Start a learn to run program.

Treadmill runners
Photo by Stockbyte

If you're totally new to running, it definitely helps to follow a plan that will help you ease into it and keep you from feeling discouraged. Try one of these free training plans that use the run/walk method to gradually increase your running time:

Email course: 3 Week to a 30 Minute Running Habit
8 Week Beginner Learn to Run Plan
Email course: Run/walk 5K Training Plan for Beginners

2. Tell others.

Two women running
Photo by Chase Jarvis
Share your desire to start a running habit with family and friends. By telling others, you're making yourself more accountable. Knowing that your friends and family members will be asking you for updates about your progress will help you stay motivated to keep running. Also, your friends and family members may have some good advice, and offer some much-needed encouragement.

3. Sign up for a race.

Runners in race
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Training for a race is a great way to stay motivated to run. Consider signing up for a 5K charity fun run, and start collecting donations for the charity. When you feel like giving up on your training, you can think about all of the supporters you won't want to let down.
More: How to Find Local Races
Tips for Your First Road Race

4. Keep a running log.

Woman on computer
Photo by Tripod
Keeping a training log or a running blog is an excellent way to track your progress and stay motivated. It's easy: Just get a notebook and write some notes after each of your workouts. Be sure to mark the date, your approximate mileage and time and a few comments about how you felt (i.e., "finished strong," "felt sluggish first 2 miles"). Keep the log in a prominent place to help remind you (and maybe put a little pressure on you) to keep running. Look back at your previous entries to remind yourself how far you've come. Or, if you prefer to do it online, create a running blog and post entries about your progress and share it with friends and family.

5. Don't overdo it.

First Aid Kit
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber
When some people decide to start running, they strap on a pair of running shoes and run as fast and far as they can. They end up feeling exhausted, sore and discouraged, rather than looking forward to their next run. Running too much too soon is one of the easiest ways to get injured. When you first start running, focus on increasing your mileage gradually. Don't run every day. You may even want to start out doing a run/walk. Also, make sure you get fitted for running shoes, so you're wearing the right shoes for your foot and running style. You'll enjoy running much more if you don't get injured and you're not suffering through every run.

6. Have a bad weather plan.

Couple running on snow
Photo by altrendo images

Don't let rainy, snowy, hot or cold weather give you an excuse not to run. If you always run outside no matter the weather, make sure you're prepared with the proper hot and cold weather safety precautions. Also make sure you have the appropriate clothing for the heat and cold. If you know you won't run outside when it's too hot or cold, make sure you have a place where you can run or cross-train indoors.

7. Beat boredom.

Runner with cyclist
Photo by Silverstock
Boredom is one of the top reasons people give up on running, so try to keep it fun and interesting. Vary your routes and workouts, so you're not doing the same runs over and over again. If you do a lot of treadmill running, try these tips for combating boredom on the treadmill.
More: How to Get Out of a Running Rut

8. Enjoy yourself.

Runner outside in fall weather
Photo by Chase Jarvis/Getty Images
If you're running solely as a means to an end –- such as weight loss -– you're going to eventually feel as if it's a chore. When you go for a run, try to be grateful for the chance to get some time to yourself and improve your health. If you're running outdoors, take in your surroundings and appreciate the opportunity to interact with nature.

Also see: 14 Things Every New Runner Should Know
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