Kickstart your summer of running

Photograph: Getty Images

Photograph: Getty Images


If you don’t have a reason to get out and run, it’s easy to make an excuse. Most of us, myself included, are guilty of running procrastination from time to time. It’s very easy to become a lapsed runner. As the days and weeks pass without a run, we lose our confidence, our motivation and then, gradually, our fitness. We forget how fabulous running makes us feel. We feel guilty and jealous every time we see another runner looking comfortable. Don’t let that happen to you this summer.

People who succeed at running have a clear plan of where they are heading. Do you know where you are going? The best way to kickstart your summer of running is to spend an hour this evening getting your head in the right space. I’m giving you a night off running. You don’t even need to feel guilty about it. This will stand to you more than any run you do this month. There are three steps to this little exercise and at the end of it you will be motivated to put on your running shoes.

  • Step 1: Set your summer challenge

You need a challenge that will keep you motivated to run on the days when it’s easy to make an excuse. The challenge should be realistic but a little outside your comfort zone. Here are some ideas for a summer challenge:

Run a 5km or 10k personal best
Run your first 10k (Get Running 10k Plan)
Start over and get back up to 5k (Get Running Beginners Plan)
Commit to a certain number of kilometres every week
Move up to half-marathon distance
Train for the Dublin City Marathon (See Mary’s marathon plan, coming next week)
Commit to a certain number of runs per week

The challenge needs to be scary enough to make you stick to your plan and not miss a run. It also needs to be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Talk to a running coach or experienced runner about what is realistic for you.

  • Step 2: Get a plan in place

Work out what you need to do in order to meet your goal. Be realistic about the time you can dedicate. Factor holidays, exams, work deadlines and the usual summer activities into the plan. Do not schedule runs on days when you know you will be recovering from a wedding or rushing to get a project complete. You can follow our training plans for beginners or for 10k, look online for inspiration or you can create your own plan with the help of an experienced runner or running coach. Whatever plan you intend to follow, write it down. Work back from your challenge date and slot in all non-running events, holidays and deadlines. See you summer availability on one page and then add in your runs. Looking at your plan on one sheet of paper makes it real and slightly less daunting.

  • Step 3: Make it real

Make yourself accountable. Once your goal is on paper and you have a realistic plan in place, tell your family and friends. Print out the plan and put it somewhere you will see it every day. The more people who know, the less likely you are to skip a run. You might even encourage others to join you and get a running buddy for the summer.

If you follow these three steps you will feel like you suddenly have control over your summer and your running. Running doesn’t have to take over your life, but if you don’t make time for it and plan it up front, something else will always take priority. The summer will pass, either way. Make the most of the bright days. Pick a challenge, write it down, get a plan in place and tell someone who will help you keep on track.


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