The Importance of Consistent Running and How to Achieve it
So, you want to run faster. You spend hours pouring over articles and posts from top trainers, magazines like Runner’s World, and drop a pretty penny on “the best” book on training for speed. Do you focus on long runs, tempo runs, or make speed work your top priority? There’s so much information out there that it can leave you more confused than when you started!
Stop. Take a step back and look at the big picture. The truth is to run faster and to be a “better” runner, your priority should be consistency.
Doing a challenging tempo run, long run, and 2 steady state runs in a week is great, but if you don’t run again for 2 weeks, have another spurt of running for a week then take another 2-3 weeks off, you’re just spinning your wheels.
Studies show that with a solid base of training (4-6 months) you can get back to the fitness level you obtained relatively quickly, but you will lose some aerobic and muscle conditioning.
After two weeks of not training, significant reductions in fitness begin to occur and you’ll have about 2-8 weeks of training (depending on the length of inactivity) ahead of you to get back to your previous level of fitness. Runnersconnect.com
The good news is that when you’re forced to take time off, you won’t be derailed. However, it’s hard to see continuous improvement when you’re constantly working to get back to where you were. By running consistently – I would say at least 2-3 times each week – you’ll continue to build upon the fitness you’ve gained.
But this is the real world and knowing something and doing something are two different things. Here is how to run consistently, even when life seems too busy.
A goal of running every morning is lofty, and when you set it, you’ll probably feel super motivated. But when you make high bar goals, one set back – a sick day, an ice storm, a late night at the office – can make you throw your hands in the air and say, “forget it!”
Be honest with yourself when planning what consistent running means to you. If you’re relatively new to running, you may not want to do 2 days in a row, and if you have to leave for work by 6:30 am, morning workouts may not be feasible. Set a number of days you can realistically get a run in, and focus on that. Whether it’s 2 days a week or 5, commit to that number.
Schedule It In
This is a major reason why I am a fan of morning runs. No matter what my day throws at me, I’ve gotten my run in. If you hate running in the morning, take a look at your week and see where the easiest place to fit a run in is, and block it off on your calendar.
Fitting in 3 runs a week seems easy when you have 7 days, but the week flies by quickly. When you don’t dedicate time in your schedule, your time fills up fast without you realizing it. Keep a training log, or write your planned and completed miles into whatever calendar you use regularly to help stay on track.
Join a Training Program or Run Group
Even if you aren’t specifically training for a race, the commitment to a training group can ensure you get at least 1-2 runs in every week. A run group can serve the same purpose, minus the financial commitment. However for some, the financial commitment of a program is what makes them go. The routes, day and time will be set for you. You’ll also get to know others in the group for extra accountability. You may just make friends to run with outside of the scheduled group runs!
It’s Never Too Late To Start Again
There will be times when you simply can’t get your planned runs in. Whether you’re sick, your kid is sick, or your work deadlines have you getting 5 hours sleep on a good night, it happens to the best of us. The key here is getting back into your schedule as soon as you’re able. Don’t let the all-or-nothing mentality get the best of you. If you can’t fit in your usual 45 minute run, but can get in 20, do 20! Anything is better than nothing. The regularity of a running routine is more important than hitting a certain mileage or pace.
How do YOU stay consistent with your running?