It took me years to develop a running habit successfully.
It’s not that I was incapable. Far from it. I just lacked the correct approach and the resources to do it the right way.
Once I cracked the code for how to start running, I thrived.
A year from when I started, I ran my first marathon.
Developing a running habit is simple.
The problem is pretty much every training plan online skips over the most crucial steps for success.
Here, I’ll walk you through step by step the actions you need to take to really form a running habit for life.
The goal is to get you to form an actual, consistent habit, as opposed to a sport that you try a few times every six months.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to start running:
If you successfully complete these steps, you’ll have developed a running habit for life.
Now let’s cover these steps in detail so you fully understand each one.
Running is a sport that most people “dabble” in.
The problem with this is that if you dabble in running, you’ll have no concept of what you’re truly capable of.
Running is hard — especially at first.
So, if you dabble by only committing to a few runs, you’ll likely quit before you see any real results.
You will need to decide to decide.
Don’t dabble and only run when it feels “right”, or when it seems convenient.
From the start, make the decision that you’ll go all in on forming a running habit.
Give yourself one solid month of sticking with a plan.
This will ensure you’re giving your body time to adjust to the pressures of running, while also giving your mind time to get past the sucky stages.
So, decide right now to make a long-term commitment.
It will alleviate the chatter in your brain and will put you at ease knowing the decision to act has already been made.
It’s simple, but crazy effective.
The number one reason why people fail to develop a running habit is because they skip this step.
The truth is, most training plans are only focused on the actions (or runs) you’ll take.
Which, at first, seems perfectly doable.
However, when it gets time to take action on the training plan, so many of us fail.
I know I can relate. Can you?
So why does this happen to us?
Because we haven’t yet trained our minds to produce the results we want.
Now, this isn’t some hippie “be the best you” babble.
This is simple psychology.
To demonstrate how this works, my favorite method is the Self Coaching Model I first learned from Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School.
The model looks like this:
In short, this means our thoughts are in direct control over whether we produce the desired action.
For reference, here’s an example of why someone would fail to start running using the model:
See how this works?
Now here’s an example of how we can use this model to start running successfully:
Still with me here?
This approach is very different than any you’ll see in the fitness community.
However, this mindset work is necessary to produce the results you want in life.
Especially when forming a running habit.
In order to start running efficiently and confidently, you’ll want to acquire some running-based knowledge first.
While running seems like a simple sport, there’s a lot you should know before starting.
Some key topics you’ll want to brush up on are:
While this isn’t the most “exciting” part of forming a running habit, having this knowledge will give you more confidence once you start.
Plus, you’ll appreciate being a super legit, knowledgeable runner right off the bat.
Before you start running, the last crucial step is to have a simple, action-based plan that works.
The key to having an effective training plan is to focus on four key elements:
Keeping these elements in mind, here’s the general training plan I give that works:
Here’s the more detailed breakdown of the training plan:
These are meant to be run at whatever pace is most comfortable for you.
No speed requirements involved.
The purpose of them is to get your body adapted to running in general.
Will allow you to increase your pace for short amounts of time during your run.
This doesn’t mean you do any sprinting. It just means you run slightly above what’s normally comfortable for you.
This will work to increase your speed over time.
I say “low-maintenance” because in the beginning stages you don’t want to incorporate a grueling cross-training workout.
Simply, get yourself acclimated to including a cross training day by planning an activity that doesn’t feel like a workout.
Examples include yoga, hiking, kayaking, or dancing.
Meant to adapt your body to running longer distances over time.
Should pass the “talk test”. You should be able to hold a conversation comfortably while running.
Keep in mind, your long runs in the beginning won’t be super long, but they’ll feel that way when you start.
I like to plan my rest days with more intention.
I schedule an activity meant for reward or self-care during this day. I also use this day to plan my next week’s successes.
The importance of this practice is severely underrated.
Finally, once you’ve understood the previous steps, you’re ready to take action and start running.
Don’t wait for it to feel “right” because it won’t.
Take action even when it feels uncomfortable.
Show yourself grace & compassion.
Take it one day at a time.
As long as you keep promises to yourself day-by-day, you’ll build that running habit little-by-little.
You got this.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.