Your running is going well, here’s how to keep up the momentum

It’s natural that the new year enthusiasm will start to wain but now is not the time to stop

A runner in the misty Phoenix Park: consistency is the key to making your running a success this month

A runner in the misty Phoenix Park: consistency is the key to making your running a success this month

 

Well done to all the January runners who are out in force these days. I see you everywhere in your colourful running shoes, bright jackets and winter hats. Running in groups and running solo, you are an inspiration to many a passing motorist who has great intentions of getting moving. You all look great and you should feel very proud.

January is Health Month in The Irish Times. You can find articles, columns, advice and tips at irishtimes.com/health, as well as in print every Tuesday in the Health & Family Supplement.

You are doing what many said they would do this month but haven’t. You are the runners who have actually got moving this January even though it is cold, you are busy and you feel unfit. Congratulations. You have passed the first hurdle. You have started.

Don’t stop now

Whether you are a comeback runner, a beginner or just hoping to return to your pre-Christmas glory, consistency is the key to making your running a success this month. Pace yourself. Please don’t get disillusioned by progress not being as quick as you might have hoped. Stick with it. Very soon you will see the rewards of the time and effort you have invested so far. Most people struggle with motivation and question their fitness when running. Don’t for a minute think that everyone else finds running easier than you. We all have good and bad days and the good news is that a bad run is often followed by a great one. If you are struggling a little now, you are still out there and that is the most important thing. It will get easier.

Safety in Numbers

While running with a friend or group is excellent motivation, be careful you don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Choose to focus on the progress you are making right now. Don’t put a damper on your own achievements by comparing with the speed or endurance of another. You will only set yourself up for disappointment. There is plenty of time later in the year to compete once you have built your solid base. Compare yourself with the runner you were on 1st January if you must engage in a contest.

Beginners Luck

At this time of year the most enthusiastic runners on the road are the beginners. They are not in competition with others and they have no 2018 benchmarks and personal bests to compare with. With a blank slate each run for a beginner is an experiment and hopefully, a welcome surprise. If you started gradually and sensibly running this January, you have most likely increased your running minutes and reduced your walking minutes a little by now. Seeing this progress is what is going to help keep you on track in the coming weeks. There is nothing as rewarding as running the longest run of your life every week for 8 weeks. Keep at it and remember the advice in our Get Running training plan on managing your pace. There is plenty time for speed when you are comfortable at 5k.

Never miss two runs

It is only natural that the new year enthusiasm will start to wain as January draws to a close, but it is important to maintain the routine you have worked so hard to create. Ignore the temptation to skip a training run from your plan. If you do miss one run, make certain you don’t miss the next. Missing two runs in a row will mean the third run will be much harder to start and to finish. I know we don’t always have the time to prioritise running but the more time you spend away from running, the harder it will be to return. Even short, easy training sessions keep the running bug alive these short days until the spring arrives and motivation increases again.

The jealous runner

To all the rest of you who had great intentions of making a running comeback this January but have seen the month disappear too quickly, remember that January isn’t over yet. You will absolutely be busy and there will never really be enough time to make running top of your agenda but if you don’t fit it in somewhere another month will disappear as quick as this one has. Use the last 10 days of January to get moving again. Make your first session a walk with a short run at the end and that will give you a taster of what you have been missing. Find a plan to suit you, pick something you know you can manage. Once you find your running mojo again you will be delighted you didn’t put off the comeback any longer.

The inspiration

Whatever type of runner you are this January, never forget who you might be inspiring by getting out the door. It could be someone you left sitting on the couch or someone you wave to as you pass their front window. Let that be your motivation if you are struggling to get out the door. Better still, invite them to join you. It will keep you both on the right track.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!). 
First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
- Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week.
- 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!

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