5 Things Every Runner Needs to START

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So you’ve made space after last week’s article about things to stop, right? (Ooops! …uncrossing my legs as I write this.) Yeah, we are still working on it too. These 5 things every runner needs to start will certainly help motivate you to keep doing what you’re doing or add some important things to your lifestyle. 

Start a consistent routine.

Momentum is your best shot at significant improvement over time. Getting into your groove begins with a reliable and predictable routine (predictable both for you AND your family or friends). True, some of us more naturally create and enjoy routines. 

I’m not demeaning the benefits of a flexible lifestyle, but I am encouraging some attention to consistency because of the well-studied physical benefits and the personally experienced relational benefits! The best part about a routine is that whatever your current goals and situation, you’ve got that time already set aside to use.

Start drinking more water.

Eh em… I am talking to myself here. And we’ve been down this road already in our training guide. A couple months ago, I asked a few of you for suggestions. We all make each other better, one of the reasons I love the running community. 

Erin Laplander (@happy_athlete_erin): “Have a water bottle with a straw or click top. If I have to unscrew the top, I’m less likely to drink. Lazy at heart I guess.”

Allie Roberts (@allieeeroberts): “Aim for 150oz a day. I chug a 25 oz bottle then fill right back up and drink it down and repeat.” (She suggests starting with 100oz.)

Dave DeVries (@davidjdevries): “I add fresh fruit to my bottle, whatever is in season, since I hate gatorade!”

Teri Brown (@teriburgessbrown): “A large glass of cold water with a big squeeze of lemon first thing in the morning! Then in my insulated water bottle throughout the day, either lemon, lime, or an herbal tea bag tossed in for an hour or so (I discard the bag so it doesn’t fall apart).”

Melissa Looman (@mjlooman): “If I get through my 1 liter bottle once, I pat myself on the back. Twice and I brag to Adam. So basically I make it a competition.” 

Start enjoying the journey.

It’s cliche to say, “Enjoy the journey,” but it seems we need the reminder. Behavioral psychology* supports that, too, with the assertion that “individuals’ set points are not hedonically neutral.” (Okay, that likely makes about as much sense to you as it did to me, but Zach explained it as: it’s basically saying that your normal state is not necessarily neutral in terms of happiness – you might tend to be more melancholy or you might tend to be more jovial.) 

The key point is that, as the authors again claim, your general state of being can change. You don’t need great accomplishments or profound successes to be happy. You do need to find joy despite the inevitable difficulties, though (if you missed it, listen to our podcast episode on struggle).

And hey, I’ve been there! Too little coffee, relational or emotional stressors, nagging pain or injury…

Let’s start with a simple mind shift.

Ugh. I have to run. →  I have the health to run.
It’s easier for them. → My obstacles make me stronger. (And stop comparing!)
I’ll never get there. → I have come so far.
It’s nasty out. → Time for an adventure.
I wish my body…. → Thank you, body, for carrying me over thousands of miles.
I’m not good enough. → My value transcends my sport.

I would love to hear more of your mindset shifts in the comments below. We could all encourage one another with more of these.

If you’re reading this in a time of negativity, please fight to urge to feel cynical at this section. We could all reframe our mindset at times.

Start training with excellence.

Those of us who have been in the sport for a while can probably relate to casual, unintentional training. When I say train with excellence, I don’t mean you are necessarily spending more time, or have intentions of getting personal bests. Training with excellence means you are doing things correctly and productively. Establishing routines (as mentioned above) with mobility and activation, running with healthy form, and taking care of your body, mind, and spirit during training are all ways to train with excellence. 

But really, if you’re serious about the sport, know what you’re about. It’s a bad day when a runner is subjected to a fair bit of suffering (fill in the blank with whatever least favorite workout you do) without understanding why and how it is necessary. Even worse if it’s not actually necessary. 

Zach says it like this: every day you lace up and run, you’re potentially jeopardizing your future health (whatever your age). That alone is enough motivation to want to be sure you’re doing the things that best support longevity and health.

Start including others.

You won’t get far on AtoZrunning before hearing us rave (both our podcast and blog) about the running community. Involving your loved ones and friends, making new running buddies, joining a group, and cheering at a race all will add value to your running experience. 

This is not imperative to being a successful runner but will arguably benefit your whole person.

Benefits of community may include:

  • Preventing burnout
  • Increasing accountability
  • Cultivating friendships
  • Learning from others’ experiences
  • Deepening sense of purpose

All this and more… 

That’s a decent start, but we all know there’s an endless list of things we probably could be doing. Fact is, trying to do it all just ends in burnout. With some urging (thanks George!), we’ve decided to make burnout our next stop for the podcast, as well, so tune in Thursday for that episode, and while you’re thinking of it, make this a bit easier and subscribe (it’s free, of course!) to get our latest content sent directly to your inbox!

*Diener E., Lucas R.E., Scollon C.N. (2009) Beyond the Hedonic Treadmill: Revising the Adaptation Theory of Well-Being. In: Diener E. (eds) The Science of Well-Being. Social Indicators Research Series, vol 37. Springer, Dordrecht

12 replies
    • admin
      admin says:

      That’s solid, Sage. And there’s always experience to be had, even if it is experience to tell us “I’m never doing that again!”

  1. Laura Meengs
    Laura Meengs says:

    All great points. I appreciate your blog and podcasts, especially how even as very fast runners you guys make it applicable to all runners, no matter the pace. And…I need to start on the more water thing ASAP. 🙂

    • Andi Ripley
      Andi Ripley says:

      Thanks, Laura! You and me both about the water. Hydration is so important, but it’s easy to forget. Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  2. Dave DeVries
    Dave DeVries says:

    Timely read for me after this past weekend. Finished the race this weekend further down than I am accustomed and was a bit heavy on the self doubt, excuses and comparisons. Then I REALLY read the names of the racers that finished ahead of me. I may have been toward the back of the pack but…I was near the back of the pack of the fastest collection of gravel bike racers in the state and I held my own! I know that is still a comparison but the perspective on the outcome it totally different. Kinda like saying my goal is to never let Zach be twice as fast as me 😉

    • admin
      admin says:

      Thanks for sharing, Dave! If I could stay vertical cycling on a gravel path, I would find accomplishment! ?I agree that it’s all in perspective! Comparison and self doubt are such joy-stealing lenses. It’s hard to recover from races where our vision exceeds our sights for that specific day. Zach and I have both been there (hence the post). As always, we appreciate your contribution! Thanks, Dave!

  3. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    My triathlon mindset shift….as a lot of people pass me on the bike…instead of “I’m a slow biker ” I say, “Wow, I’m a fast swimmer” and “I’ll catch you on the run!”

    • Zach Ripley
      Zach Ripley says:

      That’s for real, Rebecca! Those who have encouraged us to try triathlons often say that… even if you might not hack it in the bike, maybe you can make up ground in the run. Optimism at work!

    • Zach Ripley
      Zach Ripley says:

      Thanks, Jen! It’s something else we clung to from our Cornerstone days under Rod Wortley. I even had a teammate and mentor put it like this: train like you’re a national champion. You might not one day be a national champion, but training like one at least has the benefit of making you better at what you do!
      (Not that I’m advocating that we all try to train like Eliud Kipchoge as much as do our own level of training with the same excellence as those like Kipchoge.)

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