That’s the title you will see on a lot of running magazines or in Mens Health right next to blistering abs in 30 days by only doing this one revolutionary exercise.
Both of which are not true (Unless you are already superhuman) yet we still can’t help ourselves reaching for the magazine and spending our hard earned cash in pursuit of perfection.
I wanted to dispel the myth that being able to run a marathon was beyond the average human being and give our readers a frank introduction into running. Let’s be honest you probably aren’t going to run a marathon but at the very least you would like to exercise more and maybe lose a bit of weight.
You tried all the apps but still failed.
Why choose running as your exercise of choice? It’s usually the first one that most people go for and why? Because it’s easy to get out and get started. You don’t need any special equipment and can get started straight away. Why people say they will start on Monday though is beyond me.
The first hurdle that most people fail at is consistency. Consistency is the key to success in most things in life and running is no different.
The key to cracking consistency is by starting small. By starting small we don’t mean that you have thought about running so that’s a start and tomorrow you will plan it out. No.
I mean start out by walking a little. Science has proven that to make something permanent you must train your brain to get used to doing it. If you start off small by doing 15 minute walks daily and doing them at the same time, wearing the same (or similar clothes), listening to the same music, your brain will get used to the fact that this is what you do at that time and it then becomes a habit.
Once something begins to be a habit you are on to a winner. Don’t get bogged down trying to run initially as any exercise needs to be consistent for it to benefit you so keep walking. Get those steps in and keep consistent with it.
Try and increase your walking time week on week until you are regularly walking for 30 – 60 minutes per day. Forget about distances for now, focus on time.
Once you are upto to regular 60 minute walks your muscles will be used to the exercise and your mind will more than likely be conditioned to doing some sort of exercise.
You don’t have to do this everyday (we are not maniacs) try and give yourself two rest days but be consistent with those too and try to stick to the same days.
Remember you are trying to form habits too so keeping things as similar as possible will really help.
There is a lot of talk about not being motivated when it comes to exercise and running and ultimately this also boils down to consistency. By keeping this the same you are building up micro habits which will keep you going.
Although you are wanting to run, walking is still an amazing exercise and you will see the benefits from the walks alone. Track your steps and watch them grow.
Building in some sort of motivation will help but don’t make it the sole focus. A lot of people will say things like:
The one thing that all of those have in common is they point people towards a goal that once achieved allows their brain to believe they can stop. Which is exactly what happens time and time again.
Remember you are building micro habits to be consistent so good motivational goals are things like.
I’m sure there are more but what I am trying to say is motivation should take the form of something that doesn’t give you an endpoint.
So you now know about creating Micro habits, being consistent, choosing the right motivation and have already started on our walking plan.
Keep on walking until you are consistently doing 60 minute walks 5 times a week. Depending on your level of fitness this should take anywhere between 6 – 8 weeks. Any less and you are probably missing the point of consistency and trying to rush it.
The golden target of 6 – 8 weeks should have created enough neural pathways in your brain for this type of exercise to have become a habit. Your bones, tendons and muscles will have gotten used to some form of exercise so we now think it’s time to step it up a level with some interval training.
Interval training usually sends people running for the hills (you wish) but really it’s just mixing up how you are currently training.
What I want you to do now is stick to your schedule of training 5 times a week but mix your training up with some running intervals using the following ratios
For the running interval, don’t try and kill yourself, you’re trying to run for 4 minutes, so no sprinting, just a steady jog will do. You’re not trying to break any records. All I want you to do here is get used to running. The whole 60 minutes you are only running for 16 minutes.
I could get into heart rate monitoring and training zones but I don’t want to complicate things just try and build up to consistently running.
Do this for week one then for week 2 increase your running by 1 minute and reduce your walking by 1 minute. Week 3 increase your running by another minute and reduce your walking. During week four keep it the same.
For weeks 5 and 6 play around with your ratios with what you feel comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to push yourself and vice versa, don’t be afraid to take a step back. Consistency is key.
You are building up to consistent running but every step you take, be it running or walking is making you fitter and healthier so it’s a win-win situation.
Keep doing this until you are constantly running forty minutes with a ten minute walk to begin with and a ten minute walk to end with.
The Final Hurdle
Don’t push your training. You have a plan to get you running consistently for 40 minutes whilst staying injury free. You are building up at a pace that suits you, making running a habit and not a chore.
You haven’t increased your training time so you can no longer use the excuse that you don’t have the time.
Your distances will have significantly increased and we can guarantee that if you have followed these simple steps properly you will be feeling amazing right now.
So What Next?
Do you really need me to tell you that? The aim is to run consistently for the full 60 minutes. The way you achieve this is to now start to play around with your walking 10 minutes either side of your runs.
Just like steps one and two don’t rush this final stage. Stay consistent and start by swapping 1 minute of walking from both ends and gradually building up only once you are comfortable.
In addition to the actual training a lot of results are achieved in the kitchen. Eating correctly will help your training improve massively and quickly. I’m not going to go into great detail in this article about nutrition for sport and exercise but in general we would recommend eating as clean as possible.
For those of you who do not know how to eat clean all you need to know is stick to whole foods and eat plenty of fruit and veg. Avoid processed foods as much as possible but don’t starve yourself or deny yourself treats.
Reward yourself after a session with something you like. This will condition your brain to associate exercise with something nice and rewarding and will help you build those vital micro habits.
I will tackle nutrition in a lot more detail in future articles but this isn’t the time. Just try to take on the above and you will be fine for now.
Hydration during running is massive also. Your body needs water to survive. When you run you sweat. Sweating releases a lot of water and salts from your body which needs replacing so you can function properly.
Try to carry water with you during your sessions and be sure to take on as much water as possible. There is science around how much you should consume during any sort of training and I will delve into that in an article in its own right but for the purposes of this article. Keep the water intake going.
Not just during your runs but throughout the day. Hydration is one of the most important factors in your everyday life so keep the water coming.
On a lighter note and to finish off. If you can run without music you are a better runner than me. Get the air pods in, crank up the volume and pound the streets.