It’s difficult to go for your first run – but it’s keeping up that momentum that can be the biggest barrier to fitness.
Habits make the human world go round: we use habits for everything from waking up in the morning to going to sleep at night. Often we get up at the same time, eat the same food and listen to the same radio station without even realizing we’re doing it. These learned behaviors eventually become automatic. These habits are formed because they fulfill a purpose in our lives, in the case of morning routines, they prepare us for the day ahead. If the behavior gives some benefit it gets reinforced and repeated. Over time it moves from being a conscious action to becoming an automatic, unconscious response that we call a habit. Most running coaches vouch for the fact that running twice a week results in fitness maintenance, and running three times a week results in fitness gains, and the simplest way to ensure you either maintain or improve your fitness is to make running a habit. Here are the most important facts how to make something a habit fast and easily.
1 GET RID OF LIMITING BELIEFS
Going beyond limiting beliefs is the first step in achieving what you want. You may believe that you can’t run just because once a PE teacher said to you to speed up on a cross-country run. When you become entirely aware of and understand that this happened 30 years ago, this can help you get rid of long-maintained obstacles in your mind.
Creating a new belief – that you can and want to run – will allow you to move on and act differently, which is the last step to helping you leave that limiting belief behind for good.
2 ESTABLISH CLEAR GOALS
When you want to create a new habit, first set a clear goal of what you want to achieve and why. A clear goal focuses you on where you’re going and helps you to decide how to get there. For instance, training to drop pounds will will significantly differ from training for a 10K or a marathon.
NLP (neurolinguistic programming) practitioners also say it’s important to understand your motivation, because that will help you to form the habit easier. It’s a good idea to keep asking yourself, ‘What will I get from this?’ to determine the real nub of what you’ll get from running.
Life-coaching’s GROW Model is an extremely useful goal-setting technique that you can follow to challenge and focus yourself. GROW stands for Goals, Reality, Options and Will.
Using the four stages, you can set a Goal, such as running three times a week. The Reality of your present situation may be that long working hours allow you to run only once a week at a weekend. Your Options can involve giving up an episode of your favorite TV show during the week, and waking up earlier on a Tuesday to have time for a run. And finally, Will is all about determining what needs to be done and committing to doing it in a specified time frame.
3 BE EXCITED ABOUT THE JOURNEY, NOT JUST THE DESTINATION
A very common mistake many people to is setting ‘dream’ goals without realistically considering the process of achieving them, which makes them seem unreachable.
Look at your established long-term goals and then set shorter daily or weekly goals that are measurable and realistic. Seeing progress and achieving goals is a tremendous confidence boost and can make running more fulfilling.
4 HARNESS MENTAL IMAGERY
A very effective way to create habits is hypnosis. It offers a way to program your mind to design a template for the running habit. Consider finding a qualified hypnotherapist in your country or region.
If you don’t have money to afford hypnotherapy, self-hypnosis will work just as well but requires more self-motivation.
How to do self-hypnosis?
- First count yourself down into a deeply relaxed state by saying the numbers ten to one on ten consecutive exhalations, focusing on relaxing and going deeper with each number.
- Then give yourself direct and clear suggestions by listing what you will be doing to stick to the running habit. Tell yourself you’ll lay out your clothes the night before, what time you’ll wake up to go, where you will go for a run, and so on.
- At the end, count yourself awake by silently saying the numbers one to ten on each inhalation.
You can also try something called pseudo-orientation in time which means designing a three-dimensional psychological reality of the changes you’d like to see in the near future using all of your senses. While being in a deeply relaxed state, imagine yourself running regularly, enjoying the feeling of success as you do so, hearing the self-talk that encourages you to enjoy it, basking in the sense of achievement as you develop the new running habit.
5 FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL
Create a few short routines to get you in the mood for a run. Just as your morning routine prepares you for daily duties, a pre-run routine involves behaviors aimed at preparing you for your run. This can include deciding on your route, getting changed into your running clothing and warming up before every run in a specific order. Over time doing this before every run will automatically cue your mind and body to get ready to run without having to consciously think about doing it.
6 SIGNIFICANT POWER OF POSITIVE SELF-TALK
Determine three positive outcomes that regular running sessions will give you and repeat them to yourself three or four times every day – especially just before you set out to go running.
7 CREATE THE RIGHT CUES
Habits start with a psychological loop that experts call the “habit loop.” This includes three stages. First is the cue (or reminder), that encourages the behavior, then there’s the routine, which is the behavior itself, and then comes the reward, which is the outcome of the behavior. This is usually the outcome that drives the habit so you should identify a reward connected to running.
With the reward (outcome) in mind, use current cues to create a new habit. For instance, a daily activity such as brushing your teeth could be used as a cue to getting your clothing on to go out for a run in the morning. The reward could be a nice long shower you get when they return.
With regular repetition of the “trigger, behavior, reward” pattern you’ll form new habits – those automatic conditioned patterns of behavior that we don’t really have to give much thought to but just seem to happen.”