Happy new year to all of you iRun readers! With 2021 firmly in the rear-view mirror this is often the time of year when intentions are high for dramatic changes in our running. A new year, a new you—one of more running, more fitness, more races, new distances, new challenges. We’ve all been there, that initial state of high motivation and big goals. This is when anything seems possible and no challenge is too big. However, we’ve also probably all felt the disappointment of not meeting our own expectations when the day-to-day grind of pursuing our best intentions becomes overwhelming. This run club is designed to be the end of all that. This is the Joy iRun Club.
With the second Friday in January dubbed “quitter’s day,” the day where people are most likely to give up on their new year’s resolutions, we wanted to launch a series of articles to help runners navigate balancing running with life in a meaningful and sustainable—joyful—way. Our ambition with this series is to help you develop a healthy relationship with the sport and gradually implement concepts each month that will culminate in late spring, coinciding with the biggest spring races here in Canada. This series will be less about individual workouts and more about conceptual, healthy approaches to the sport.
For January we will begin with three key concepts: establishing routine, sustainable habits, and building a foundation.
The best predictor of long-term success is consistency over time and to achieve this we need to establish routines. Are there certain days of the week that you have more time to run? Are you more likely to run in the morning before the day’s commitments or later in the afternoon once you’ve conquered your day (I’ve found knocking the run out first thing leads to a more productive day, but to each their own)? Are you a social runner? Do you run with music? We are all different so it is natural to expect our routines to vary and it isn’t uncommon that these routines change over time. I generally think about routine as having two buckets: routines within running that help build consistency and routines outside of running that help maintain that consistency.
A routine within running that I find helpful would be having a known route for every common distance starting from your front door. This means you can step outside and not have to think (if you don’t want to) about where you should go if you want to run an easy run. It also means that some running can be done without a watch, which allows you to focus on how you feel and just enjoy being out there. A second routine within running might be a set weekly running date with a friend. We all know we’re less likely to skip a session if we’re meeting up with someone! As one last example, if your work has the facilities for it, run commuting to work is an effective way to get those easy runs in while actually saving time (and if you’re working from home you could always run on your way to do chores).
Outside of running, routines like checking the weather and laying out your running clothes the night before or preparing your morning coffee so it is ready when you wake up can be helpful in getting that initial boost in motivation. If you are an evening runner and you find it hard to get out the door after a long day at work I’ve found that bringing your running gear and making the effort to run before you get home can go a long way to keeping consistent. If running in the cold during the winter is a challenge, try warming your shoes on a heater before you step out the door. The purpose of establishing these routines outside of running is to maintain that consistency we’re looking to build. Frame running not as a chore or something odious but something that provides energy and makes you feel good.
The next piece of this series will focus on developing sustainable habits and building the foundation for successful running over the long-term. Remember, the best predictor of long-term success is consistency over time, and the best way to be consistent is to enjoy what you do, so we want to make sure that what we’re doing is well thought out and sustainable: Your running should spark joy!
For this week, the homework is simple:
- Establish an easy running route from your front door that you haven’t run before
- Prepare your running gear the night before a run at least once this week
- Run the route you’ve established in point one without a watch – just enjoy being out there!
The Joy iRun Club will exist online at the iRun Facebook page. You don’t have to buy anything and you don’t need to sign up. If you want to share your journey, and by announcing your goal in public you’re more likely to see your goal achieved, please click here. Happy trails.