Featured, Motivation Comments (1) |

Making running a habit

Do you have a really hard time waking up, or finding that motivation to run consistently? In this article, Kavita Rajith Nair tells you how she overcame these hurdles and went on to become a morning person!

It only takes 21 continuous days to form a habit – says Stephen Covey in his book – 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People. But how do you get through those 21 days? Is motivation the only factor? How about the habits we have to break first? Not having case studies and with only my experience to go by, I’ll avoid generalities and stick to my tale.

‘SHOWING UP! Is the theme that worked for me’ – making every single session consistently for the next 21 days.

That’s all it takes to make anything a habit be it running, cycling, boxing, music, hitting the gym, sleeping early, waking up early. Literally anything!

Running is the newest habit I have cultivated, which I have sustained for over 2 years now and is no longer considered a habit, as it has become an inseparable part of my life.

Bangalore is a runner’s paradise with easy access to broad traffic-free roads early in the mornings and beautiful weather almost all around the year – it’s no wonder you see runners across the city roads quite frequently. That’s how running became a natural choice for me.

When I decided to give running a shot, it wasn’t because I was a couch potato – I had

Ballroom Dancing, Kickboxing and CrossFit training going on and this helped me shed 7 Kgs. However, despite all of this I just couldn’t get my weight to budge south of 75 kilos. In hindsight, I think just dabbling in each of them and not doing enough of them consistently didn’t help my cause.

Running requires you to be an early morning person. I was someone who would hit the bed late and wake up late as well. As old habits would have it, mornings found be tucked comfortably in bed, until Jayanagar Jaguars (running club) opened up their branch in HSR Layout, just about 500mts from my house.

One morning I mustered enough motivation to SHOW UP on the ground at 5:20 AM. The routine was simple – some warm-up exercises, a couple of kms brisk walk, few drills after returning to the ground, cool down stretches, few core strengthening exercises and wind up. It was done and dusted by 7:00 AM and I was home by 7:05 AM. I still had an hour to go before my alarm would ring on a usual day otherwise and I just earned 60mins additional time to do my stuff – ME TIME!!! I thought I had already started liking it, but yes not a habit yet, as it was just the first day. The strangest thing happened that night, I started yawning at around 8:00 PM and despite my hard attempts to stay awake, I eventually hit the bed at 9:00 PM. That was by far the earliest time ever I had gone off to sleep, probably did it last as a kid.

The next day was a rest day, but despite that, I woke up earlier than usual and slept early too. Then came the running day, I was eager to be on the grounds on time and I SHOWED UP again. After a week, I pulled in my spouse to join me for a trial session, he was sulking initially to wake up, but our welcoming Location Lead, gave us proper guidance for absolute amateur runners like my spouse and myself and also the camaraderie of the warm co-runners, some experienced and some new to the sport like us, drew us to the ground for the next few sessions regularly. And that way, without realising I SHOWED UP again and again until today. It’s been 2 years and 3 months and I SIMPLY SHOW UP, be it at the grounds if in Bangalore or if traveling, I AM UP AND ABOUT on the roads on the scheduled days. To be very candid here, I am not sure when that turned into a habit, as I stopped counting after a few days I think to the extent that even for emergency reasons if I had to miss my running, I was on a complete guilt trip.

Looking back, here are the few things that probably helped me build ‘Running as a habit’:

  1. Decision: Awareness that you need to cultivate a habit is a big thing in itself. 10% of your work is done here.
  2. Choice:The next big thing is to decide what is it that you want to do. This could take a while as you may have to do a bit of introspection to arrive at this, or just go with what your heart tells you one fine morning, or what your best friend suggests, it is an experimentation anyway. Another 5% is done here.
  3. Enjoy: You should like what you have chosen and thoroughly enjoy it. Might be a taste you have to develop but that you should be aware of in the early days as it will most likely make you happier, content, energetic through the day to pull your daily chores and office routines without any additional effort- this gets you to the 40% mark.
  4. Partner-In: Rope in a friend/ family member/ partner/ spouse/ colleague.For me, this was an important step, especially in the initial days one pushes the other and unknowingly you have crossed a week without missing a single session. This takes you to a 50% mark.

The next 50% is the tricky bit, here come the cliched big words like regularity, consistency, determination, persistence and so on. I can share what helped me to bridge the gap of the next 50%.

  1. Note down the changes the new habit has brought in you. E.g. ease of waking up early, longer days for self, more Me-time, less grumpy, sustain more energy through the day and help me have a positive outlook on life itself.
  2. Talk about it to as many as possible.Of course, you risk shooing people away at the very sight of you from afar, but your well-wishers will stick around for you, noticing the change in you and to support you. Talking about your new habit only reassures that you are liking it, you are spreading a word about it, and in a minute way, influencing the people you are speaking to. That in itself is a big motivation.
  3. Set goals. This could be tough, as you are new to the habit, and may be unaware of what goals to set, you can either use our google mom to read blogs and research good articles or pester your coach/ mentor/ guide to help you here. I did the latter of course 🙂
  4. Measure yourself. This could be basis your goals for the habit you chose, but as it’s said, “only if you measure, can you change/control it” so measure! I defined performance for myself in running and then started measuring it. Needless to say, my original obsession with weight was also being measured, but along with it started measuring more meaningful yet simple aspects like BMI, fat%, skeletal mass, water content etc. And trust me, any of these moving in the positive direction is a huge stimulus.
  5. Share your success stories. While your successes will be evident to yourself and people around you, you can choose to share on social media if you are a social media friendly person, or even just talk about them. But having said that, consciously remember to have your head fixed right on your shoulders and not have the successes get to your head. In simple words, ‘Always Be Humble!’

Parting Message: Don’t get overwhelmed by the words Consistency, Dedication, Introspection, which I have used to describe my journey, believe me, this looked scary to me as well, but just remember #21Days and you will enjoy the journey. In our multifaceted daily life as a mother, father, child, caregiver, employee, manager, wife, husband and so on, never forget YOURSELF. Before I say Adieu, I would say have some time to live for yourself.

As an amateur runner, I have shared what helped me to ‘SHOW UP’ on all mornings of the run days and eventually cultivate ‘Running as a Habit’. Am eager to hear from you what helped you!

GUEST COLUMNIST

Kavita, employed with an International Bank had taken up running to stay fit in summer of 2016. Her leisure running has now developed into her passion. She fondly inspires people around her with her enthusiasm, infectious energy and love for running

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Training Comments (0) |

Your first marathon

If you started this year with a resolution to run your first marathon then here is a plan on how you can get off the couch and reach the finish line, writes Nandini Reddy

With so many friends around you running marathons, it is quite natural that you would also be bitten by the bug to run your first marathon. To begin with let us start with a half marathon and work towards finishing the 21 km mark before heading off to the 42 km chequered flag.

So how from the point you get off your couch to the crossing the finish line you wonder? Well if you train and eat in a committed fashion then you should be able to run your first half marathon in 14 weeks. It doesn’t really matter if you are new to running or you are coming back after a long break, if you have the will to stick to a training programme then you will be race-ready within a few weeks.

Getting started

Firstly, try and work out a realistic plan. You can schedule yourself to running for 4 days a week. You can start by walking first and then slowly graduate to jogging, interval training and then full-fledged running. The idea is to ease your body and mind into a training schedule that will keep you happy and not too fatigued. The idea is to build your endurance in the first 4 weeks and over-stress your body. The run/walk strategy is totally acceptable in the first few weeks. Don’t beat yourself up. Get into the mindset that you are here to finish the race and not compete for a goal time. It is your first marathon so finishing a race is vital.

Training Plans

The key to any good training is to mix-up your workouts and ensure that you stay interested and the schedule doesn’t become monotonous. You can add some strength training and cross-training also to help develop your muscles. Here are a few suggestions :

Run/Walk: This is a form of interval training where you run for 1 minute and walk for another minute. This will help you run longer. As you progress you can decrease the walking interval timing and increase the running interval timing.

Brisk Walks: In the beginning of your training programme keep a day for just brisk walking. This helps improve your fitness levels. It also boosts confidence because you won’t feel out of breath during these training days.

Cross-Training: It is vital to impact two days of cross-training. You can choose between cycling, swimming , yoga or martial arts. The idea is to build your muscles and prevent injuries from excessive stress on your body due to running. You can add body weight training to your routine as well with squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and dead-lifts.

Tempo Runs: These runs are important to build your speed. You should run these at a harder pace than normal. The idea is to push your pace a bit higher than last week. When you do your tempo runs, start off at a comfortable pace, then build up to a higher pace and then cool down with a kilometre of a running at a slow pace.

Sample Plan

Here is a suggested sample plan on how you can build up your distances for running every week.

Week 1: Try the run/walk – 3 kms

Week 2: Run/Walk – 3 kms with the addition of Cross Training

Week 3: Run/Walk or Brisk Walk – 5 kms with the addition of Body weight training

Week 4: Tempo Run – 3 – 5 kms

Week 5: Tempo Run 5- 8 kms with a 40 min Cross Training session once a week

Week 6: Tempo Run 5- 8 kms with 30 min body weight training session once a week

Week 7: Run/Walk or Brisk walk – 8 kms and Tempo Run – 5 Kms with 40 mins of Cross training/ week

Week 8: Run/Walk – 12 kms and Tempo Run – 8 kms with 40 mins of body weight training/week

Week 9: Tempo Run – 15 kms with 45 minutes of Cross Training/ week

Week 10: Tempo Run – 15 kms with 45 minutes of body weight training/ week

Week 11: Tempo Run – 16 kms and Run/ Walk – 18 kms

Week 12: Cross Training – 45 minutes and Run/Walk – 18 kms

Week 13: Tempo Run – 20 kms with 45 minutes of body weight training

Week 14: Tempo Run – 20 kms with 45 minutes of Cross Training

The training plans every week will have to include 2 days of rest.

This is just a suggestion on what you can follow. But remember that you need to listen to your body. If something hurts and doesn’t feel right you need to learn to stop, see a doctor or a coach. The idea is to train to make your body feel better and not worse.

Enjoy your training runs and look forward to the exhilaration of crossing the finish line.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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