How to Start Running – and Stick With it!

There’s no denying the benefits of running – you torch calories, it’s good for your heart and the endorphin rush feels amazing. But in the midst of happy hours, family obligations and work deadlines, it’s easy to fall off a training plan, lose motivation and stop running altogether.

I’m often asked by friends, family and colleagues how I stay motivated to train and race year-round. Here are my top three tips for starting and sticking with a running program:

  • Find (and Commit) to a Plan

If you don’t have a reason to run, what’s the motivation to get out the door or hop on the treadmill? Determine your goals and find a running program that will help you achieve this goal. Some of my favorite programs for beginning and intermediate runners are the Couch 2 5K plan and Hal Higdon’s Half and Full Marathon programs. Everyone – even crazy runners like myself – have bad days when running doesn’t sound fun.  On these days, I remind yourself that the pride I’ll feel for completing my training my run for the day and being one step closer to my goal outweighs the guilt I know I’ll feel if I slack off.

My husband and I moved to a new apartment during a particularly cold Chicago winter two years ago. All my running buddies lived in different neighborhoods, so without someone else nudging me out the door, the runs… didn’t happen. Today, 90% of the time I head out for a run I’m not alone. Sometimes the hardest part is walking out the door, so knowing someone is waiting is helpful on the days I’m not feeling it. Training buddies can be virtual, too. If you can’t find someone to run with you, team up with a friend with the same goals and check in regularly to ensure you’re both on track

Remember, it’s not that you don’t have the time; you have the time, you just need to make it. Every Sunday, I take out my planner and literally pencil in when all my runs will happen. It’s easy for life to get in the way of running, so don’t let it.

What are some things you’ve done to start and stick with a running program?

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