How to Get Into a Successful Running Habit

Some people start out with good intentions to maintain a regular running habit, but eventually give up after a couple of weeks. It can take about four to six weeks to develop a habit, so it does take some perseverance to make your new running habit stick. Try some of these tips to maintain your motivation and determination to keep running.

Start a Learn to Run Program

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If you're totally new to running, it definitely helps to follow a plan that will help you ease into it and keep you from feeling discouraged. Try one of these free training plans that use the run/walk method to gradually increase your running time:

Tell Others

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Share your desire to start a running habit with family and friends. By telling others, you're making yourself more accountable. Knowing that your friends and family members will be asking you for updates about your progress will help you stay motivated to keep running. Also, your friends and family members may have some good advice and offer some much-needed encouragement.

Train for a Race


Training for a race is a great way to stay motivated to run. Get a friend or family member to join you, so you can motivate each other. Consider signing up for a 5K charity fun run, and start collecting donations for the charity. When you feel like giving up on your training, you can think about all of the supporters you won't want to let down. 

Don't Overdo It

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When some people decide to start running, they strap on a pair of running shoes and run as fast and far as they can. They end up feeling exhausted, sore and discouraged, rather than looking forward to their next run. Running too much too soon is one of the easiest ways to get injured.

When you first start running, focus on increasing your mileage gradually. Don't run every day. You may even want to start out doing a run/walk. Also, make sure you get fitted for running shoes, so you're wearing the right shoes for your foot and running style. You'll enjoy running much more if you don't get injured and you're not suffering through every run.

Keep a Running Log

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Keeping a training log or a running blog is an excellent way to track your progress and stay motivated. It's easy: Just get a notebook and write some notes after each of your workouts. Be sure to mark the date, your approximate mileage and time and a few comments about how you felt (i.e., "finished strong," "felt sluggish first 2 miles").

Keep your log in a prominent place to help remind you (and maybe put a little pressure on you) to keep running. Look back at your previous entries to remind yourself how far you've come. Or, if you prefer to do it online, create a running blog and post entries about your progress and share it with friends and family. Or, post occasional update on Facebook or other social media to share your progress and stay accountable.

Track Your Progress in Other Ways, Too

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Juan Silva

With all the health benefits of running, you're bound to notice some positive changes in your health and body when you start running regularly. Becoming more aware of these changes and actually measuring them will help you stay motivated to keep up your running habit.

Try to weigh yourself and take your measurements regularly (once a week is fine) so you can see your progress. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and follow up to get it tested again in a few months. Take your resting heart rate every morning — as you improve your fitness, you should see it go down.

Have a Bad Weather Plan

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Don't let rainysnowy, hot or cold weather give you an excuse not to run. If you always run outside no matter the weather, make sure you're prepared with the proper hot and cold weather safety precautions. Also make sure you have the appropriate clothing for the heat and cold. If you know you won't run outside when it's too hot or cold, make sure you have a place where you can run or cross-train indoors.

Create a Reward System

Young People Running on treadmill in a gym.
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We're more likely to continue a new habit if we have a reward system in place. Plan some short-term and long-term rewards for yourself so that you're inspired to continue running. For example, plan to treat yourself to a pedicure or massage when you've run three times a week for three weeks.

When I'm struggling with my motivation, I sometimes need multiple rewards to keep me going. I'll promise myself an iced coffee (or hot, depending on the weather) at the end of a long run, and plan to buy a new pair of running socks after completing a race. Even something as simple as listening to a riveting audiobook or watching your favorite sitcom on the treadmill can help keep us motivated to get that run done.

Beat Boredom

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Boredom is one of the top reasons people give up on running, so try to keep it fun and interesting. Run with others, and vary your routes and workouts, so you're not doing the same runs over and over again. If you do a lot of treadmill running, you can try tips for combating boredom on the treadmill

Enjoy Yourself

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  • If you're running solely as a means to an end — such as weight loss — you're going to eventually feel as if it's a chore. When you go for a run, try to be grateful for the chance to get some time to yourself and improve your health. Remind yourself that you're lucky to be healthy enough to run. If you're running outdoors, take in your surroundings and appreciate the opportunity to interact with nature. If you need more reminders of why you're lucky to be running, check out reasons why running is so good for you.
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