7 Tips For Starting a Daily Running Routine

As much as we love the thought of running every day, having the motivation to commit to a routine might seem daunting. However, starting a daily running routine is not as hard as you might think! 

The first question you might be asking is: Why would I want to start a daily running routine? We all have our own reasons for running, but here are some personal things trail running might do for you:

  • It will reduce aches and pains you’ve had for years
  • It will reduce your daily stress
  • It will let the creative juices flow
  • It will change your body’s appearance

For those of you that like getting into the science of things, pick up “Spark by John Ratey”. It’s a great book going into science-backed evidence for how exercise affects your brain and body. 

Running every day is easier said than done. Here are 7 tips to making your new routine stick:

  1. Think Less, Do More. 

“Should I go for a run? Today was such a long day, and I just want to relax now. Tomorrow is probably better. Or maybe I should go for a quick one?”

As a runner, the mental battle is often the hardest part of staying on a strict routine. Having a conversation with yourself like the one above is normal and the only thing holding you back from a new running habit. This is referred to as analysis paralysis, which is a state of over-thinking. 

The end result of over-thinking is always no decision at all. 

Overcoming these mental gymnastics are not easy, but commit to trying the following for 14 days:

Run every day, no excuses! There’s nothing to decide. You just go—every day. You’ll find that on the days you don’t feel like going, you will always appreciate the run once you start. 

Slowly you will begin to build up the will power and persistence you need to solidify your daily runs.

  1. Find an Optimal Schedule

Your new routine should fit in to your current lifestyle. If you’re not a morning person, don’t force yourself to wake up at 5 AM. It’s not sustainable! You want a time that you can keep consistent every day. One that works with your work and personal schedule.

When exercise becomes an integral part of your day and you feel weird if you don’t go for your run, you’ve successfully built a habit. 

  1. Optimize your Steps Per Minute

Running may seem like an easy task. One foot in front of the other (preferably fast!). But, you will find that there are a lot of technical things to think do when running. Keeping things simple, at least at the beginning, can be the difference between a routine you stick with or don’t.

If you haven’t read Daniel’s Running Formula, I would highly suggest picking up a copy if you’re serious about making running a lifelong activity. 

The number one takeaway from the book is to increase your stride rate. His advice is to run with a stride rate of around 180 steps per minute to minimize landing shock. Taking long, heavy strides will make you more prone to injuries, which will prevent you from going every day. Instead, try to make smaller, lighter strides. Keep your feet under your upper body when you land.

He points out that there is no conclusive evidence that front, mid, or rear foot landing is superior. Instead, focus on your perfect foot-strike at the recommended 180 steps per minute. Keep things simple and focus on one thing. Run like a feather!

  1. Running is a Marathon

If you’re completely new to trail running, have no shame starting with a brisk walk. Work up to running at your own pace. Keep increasing your daily running distance in small increments each week. You will be surprised how much progress you can make if you make consistent effort.

In the beginning, the point is to focus on the habit. A marathon-ready body is never built overnight. Try to improve your distance or pace little by little every day. Small improvements lead to great changes over time!

  1. Make Sure to Rest

Listening to your body is an often overlooked piece of advice. We all want instant results, but sometimes the pursuit of results can actually slow down progress. Not only will giving 100% effort every day make you tired, you also risk injury. This can put you out of commission for weeks or even months!

If your legs are sore, opt for a brisk 30-minute walk. Remember: You’re building a habit — consistency is key. Be sure to always warm-up properly to prevent pulling or straining a muscle.

  1. Invest in the Proper Gear

Arguably one of the easiest things on the list is investing in proper trail running shoes. You might even want to look at getting two pairs of shoes, depending on the terrain you are traversing. 

Having the right shoes will make your runs a lot easier. Easier means you will be more apt to stick with it (Remember the consistency thing?). Trail running is a sport that can be very gear-intensive, but start with a good quality shoe and then move on to other things as your running progresses. 

  1. Enjoy the Ups and Downs

Trail running has it’s ups and downs. Some weeks we might feel like we are making no progress and other weeks we might have the motivation to move mountains. Enjoy both parts of the journey. If you really want to make this a lifestyle, you have to be willing to accept that low points only make us feel grateful for the high points. 

For weeks you are feeling unmotivated, try reading to gain that spark back. The book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a great story about why people run. It may give you that “why” you need to keep pushing forward. Another great tip is to journal all your runs so you can easily track progress. 

By using the following 7 tips, you will undoubtedly have an easier time creating a long-term running routine!

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