We can have all the running resources in the world and still not stick to a training plan successfully.
I’m all too familiar with this!
In the past, I would plan my runs down to the minute, invest in all the necessary gear and feel like nothing could stop me.
That this time would be different. I would finally stick to my guns and complete the runs I scheduled.
Needless to say, I would find myself in an endless cycle of never successfully sticking to a training plan.
So, what gives? What really causes us to not complete the required runs despite our best intentions?
Well, first: Take a deep breath and give yourself a break. This is totally natural.
It means nothing about your abilities or potential to be a bad-ass, dedicated runner.
We just need to focus on how we can REALLY learn to stick to a training plan.
This requires some digging.
I’m about getting to the nitty-gritty of WHY we do these things, as opposed to just sticking a band-aid on our setbacks and calling it day.
This means I’m not going to tell you to set your alarm across the room or sleep with your running clothes on.
While you can do that (and it can’t hurt), doing hacks like these won’t get you to stay dedicated long-term.
So, let’s dive a little deeper, shall we? ?
While a few of these factors are more obvious, there are some I’ll list in this article that most training plans don’t even mention.
Here, I’ll break down the 9 ways we can FINALLY learn to stick to a training plan.
I’m so excited for you to take away some strategies that you can implement today, so you can get out of the frustrating, non-commital cycle you’re currently in.
Alright, so you likely won’t be running longer distances than the assigned training plan; however, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to sprint out the gates from the get-go.
Even if you’re a seasoned runner, start slowly in your training plan!
Training plans are meant to ease your body into increased mileages and speeds over time.
The majority of your runs should be “easy runs” where you should be running at a comfortable, maintainable pace.
Stick to incorporating only one (maybe two) faster runs a week where you incorporate speed-work.
This could be through intervals, fartleks, tempo running – whatever floats your boat.
But, don’t get full of yourself and think you can immediately start busting out 7-minute miles.
(Unless you’re a running wizard and that’s slow for you…then, by all means, go for it ?).
So, start small. Gradually increase your miles and speed.
This is key to keeping your spirits high and your frustration levels low in the beginning.
Seasoned runners should know better, but you’d be surprised.
Some think they’ll progress faster if they skip their rest days.
Skipping rest days is such a huge no-no when it comes to running!
Another common mistake is when a runner skips a run in their training plan, they decide to skip a rest day to make up for it.
If you’re behind in your training, replacing your rest days with the runs you missed can cause you to skip rest days for weeks!
This is how a running injury is formed – which will ultimately derail your training for the foreseeable future.
Just…don’t do this to yourself.
Rest and recover your body.
See your rest days as a crucial and integral part of your training plan.
They’re necessary for proper physical and mental recovery.
Here’s where we get to the juicy details of what most training plans don’t cover.
Now, this may sound woo-woo to some of you, but you need to set your running goals properly if you truly want to commit.
This is just simple psychology. And it works.
You’ll want to practice setting your running goals from a place of abundance.
When you place goals from a place of abundance you are driven by positive emotions to achieve it.
You don’t view your running goals as necessary to make you happy.
You value them simply as a means of personal growth.
Basically, you set running goals for healthy reasons like wanting to feel like the best, most bad-ass version of yourself. ?
The problem is most of us set running goals (or any goal) from a place of scarcity.
When you set goals from a place of scarcity, you’re focused on what you’re lacking.
You aim to achieve a goal to fill a void that you think you currently have in your life.
Which ends up causing you pain and puts you in a negative headspace when it comes to running.
This also puts you in a desperation mindset to achieve it since you think the end-result is necessary to feel fulfilled and happy.
An example of setting goals from a place of scarcity would be running to get skinny because you’re insecure about your body.
This makes it way less likely that you’ll follow through long-term.
Still with me?
This concept really works if you put it into practice!
So, start setting your running goals from an abundant mindset.
One of the most common excuses I get for not sticking to a training plan is “not having enough time.”
I’m about to give you a dose of tough love.
Most of the time, this reason is a cop-out.
Not having enough time is one of the easiest excuses in the book to make.
What’s funny, is learning to manage our time is incredibly simple!
Most the time, we’re just not doing it right.
And trust me…I’ve been there! I’m no different.
The most valuable tip for managing your time properly is to have a scheduling tool on-hand at all times.
My favorite is G-calendar as I can access it from my phone and computer.
Whatever scheduling tool you choose, only choose one.
We have a tendency to get distracted by our scheduling tools, so keep it simple!
Failure is an integral part of any journey to success.
Especially in running.
When we have training plans, we put this pressure on ourselves to complete all the runs perfectly so as not to get behind.
No one gets this better than I do.
I would get so caught up in completing my runs perfectly, that I ended up putting too much pressure on the situation.
Which would cause me to skip some training runs out of fear of failing.
It’s embarrassing but true. And I know a lot of runners who go through this.
Accept from the beginning that there will be setbacks.
The secret is to not fear them but to embrace them.
Failures in running (and in life) are our greatest teacher. And every runner is very familiar with failure.
So, don’t make it mean anything negative about you if a run is less than spectacular.
Reset your mind and stick to your training as if you completed the run exactly as you intended.
This is one of my all-time favorite topics when it comes to running.
Mainly because so many people view motivation the wrong way! Let me explain.
Most of us are either waiting for motivation or looking for it.
We figure once we find it, we’ll finally have a reason to take action and run.
The truth is: motivation never makes an appearance when you look for it and if you wait for it, you’ll be waiting a long damn time.
You cannot rely on motivation to get anything of value done when it comes to running.
You’re not going to feel like running when your training plan tells you to.
This doesn’t mean you’re a bad runner, that you don’t love the sport, or that there’s something wrong with you.
It’s just the way it goes.
Practice feeling the resistance and acting anyway.
There’s not some magic formula that will get you out the door and motivated.
You have to just act despite your brain telling you not to. That’s it.
It gets WAY easier over time. I promise!
Finally, a tip that’s practical!
I want you to choose one tracking device that you use throughout your training.
This can either be a free app on your phone or a running watch. Whichever you prefer.
Tracking your progress is a crucial means of staying focused on your end-goal.
By being able to check your stats at any time it gives you an easy means of motivation.
It’s super satisfying to look back on your progress as you complete your runs.
You can even set reminders on most tracking devices to alert you when it’s running time!
Although, with your newfound time-management techniques this shouldn’t be an issue.
This is something that’s not talked about enough.
Having the commitment to follow through with scheduled runs is a skillset that you practice.
A dedicated runner doesn’t just become committed because of an overwhelming love for the sport.
At least not long-term.
Commitment is a muscle that you have to make stronger over time.
And, you can’t expect to be committed to a long-term training plan right off the bat!
This puts pressure on the situation because it’s not something your brain has been trained to do yet.
So, before diving into a long-term training plan, I want you to establish a running “minimum baseline”.
A minimum baseline is the least amount of anything you’re willing to do.
We have minimum baselines for everything in life.
How long we’ll go without seeing our family, how late you’ll show up for work, etc.
So, come up with a minimum baseline for running.
Figure out the least amount of time you’re willing to run a week.
It should be so easy that you’ll have no problem committing to it. That’s the goal.
For example, if running twice a week seems easy to you – start with that!
The key is to practice committing by always following through with your minimum baseline.
Then, as your ability to commit becomes stronger, gradually increase your minimum baseline over time.
Before you know it, you’ll have no problem staying committed to a full training plan.
I hope this article gave you some tactics you can take with you when it comes to sticking to your training!
If you’re struggling with this, just remember you’re not alone.
Sticking to running can be hard and it’s natural for us to develop inconsistencies with it.
The key is to keep tweaking our brains and bodies to get us to achieve the running results we desire.
Happy training peeps!
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health 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.