For some, the hardest part about running is simply breaking free from the day’s obligations long enough to change shoes and hit the pavement. Consistency is tough and improvement often feels fleeting—or altogether impossible.
But, runners who establish that consistency will find that improvement suddenly becomes constant and natural—and the runs become more fun.
For those looking for a path to this mythological land of contentment… Here’s 22.
1. Find a running buddy — or buddies.1 of 23
Accountability is key. Finding others to run with will add an element of healthy peer pressure to your training.
2. Be slow.2 of 23
Ease into your training and keep your pace comfortable early on. Becoming a good runner takes time and patience. Pushing too hard too early will lead to disappointment and could sour you on the sport altogether.
3. Don't skip breakfast.3 of 23
For runners, the first meal of the day is particularly important, especially if you intend to run early or during lunch. You need the fuel.
4. Become friends with a blender.4 of 23
Training is time-consuming and so is prepping healthy meals, but both are extremely important. Throwing some fruits and veggies in a blender is both time efficient and effective.
5. Keep your kick game on point.5 of 23
If you're a sneaker head, this is the sport for you. Pay attention to your gait, pronation and training objectives and find a running shoe—or two, or three—that fits your needs. Rotate your footwear during the week to keep it fresh and keep in mind that most shoes need to be replaced after 300 to 500 miles.
6. Seek guidance.6 of 23
Find a coach, a more experienced runner—or even a helpful gadget like this one—that will constantly offer up advice and constructive criticism.
7. Leave your watch at home.7 of 23
Our fitness tracking apps can be hugely beneficial, but we can also become obsessed with our numbers. Sometimes it's best to leave the watch at home and just run by feel.
8. Quit running.8 of 23
Don't quit altogether, obviously. But don't hesitate to engage in non-running activities like swimming or cycling during built-in cross-training days.
9. Dear diary…9 of 23
Keep a running log and make a point to track your progress, emotions, aches and pains on a daily basis. Continual improvement is much easier to achieve with a point of reference.
10. Race.10 of 23
Running is easier when you're running toward something. Race often to give your training purpose and add a motivational element to encourage consistency.
11. Run in the morning.11 of 23
There is quite a case to be made for the early morning run.
12. Drink water.12 of 23
Staying hydrated is extremely important when you begin logging more and more miles. Keep a water bottle around as much as possible and turn drinking from it into an involuntary motor function.
13. Make appointments.13 of 23
Treat your runs seriously. Block off time in your calendar for each one to prevent scheduling conflicts. Life happens, but good runners prioritize their training.
14. Lay out your gear.14 of 23
The key to remaining consistent in your training is to eliminate obstacles and distractions. Believe it or not, your clothes, earphones, socks and shoes can each become an insurmountable obstacle when time is of the essence. Lay your gear out the night before, charge your wireless gadgets and make life prior to your run as convenient as possible.
15. Switch it up.15 of 23
When we get into a rhythm, we have a tendency to begin repeating the same type of run each day. Don't spend all of your time on pavement. Hit the track—or grass or gravel—to help prevent overuse injuries. Each surface hits different muscles in your legs.
16. Mix business with pleasure.16 of 23
Find a destination race and take a running vacation. A trip like this can be fun for the entire family, and you can reward yourself for your performance with major beach time.
17. Be flexible.17 of 23
Stretch regularly and engage in some yoga or Pilates to keep your legs limber and healthy. But also think about "flexibility" in terms of your routine. Weather may force you indoors. Work may require some overtime. Roll with the punches and be willing to adjust to whatever life throws your way.
18. Go off-road.18 of 23
Registering for road races consistently is great, but don't be afraid to get messy. Mud runs and obstacle course races provide a welcome change of pace—and the post-race parties are usually pretty legit.
19. Recruit.19 of 23
Be an ambassador for the sport. Zero in on friends or family who you think might be interested in becoming serious runners and encourage them to join you in training for an upcoming race. Just be careful not to overwhelm your recruits. Be cognizant of their experience and fitness level and choose a realistic goal race.
20. Go streaking.20 of 23
Keep your clothes on. Go on a running streak—even if some days you run as little as a mile. The repetitive nature of running each day will fast forward the development of discipline and consistency within your routine.
21. Sleep.21 of 23
Don't forget to hit the pillow for an adequate amount of time. Running is physically stressful and you do need more sleep than your non-running peers to fully recover.
22. Subscribe to ACTIVE Runner.22 of 23
Shameless plug? Hardly. The ACTIVE Runner newsletter, delivered to your inbox weekly, contains a wealth of useful information, from training tips, to product reviews, to cleverly written—and often hilarious—lifestyle pieces.