Total Therapy Blog
After the Run
If you’re one of the 50 000 people who participated in the Vancouver Sun Run this year – congratulations! Your months of hard work and preparation have paid off. Now comes the hard part – keeping up the good work and staying on the fitness bandwagon.
Having an event to work towards can be a great motivator. It gives us a goal, a distinct end point. Anyone who’s ever worked with a deadline knows how motivating a particular date can be. But what do you do afterwards? You’ve put all this hard work into breaking old habits, building up your strength and endurance for this one moment. And now it’s over. It would be a shame to let all that effort go to waste, and yet, without a motivating event, we find ourselves gravitating back towards the couch.
There are essentially two ways to make a new lifestyle habit (like regular physical activity) stick: work towards a goal, or incorporate it into a routine. Signing up for a fun run is an example of the first method. Choosing to bike to work is an example of the second method. For many reasons, people find the former option easier. Incorporating something new into an existing routine can be a challenge, namely because it involves changing a deeply ingrained pattern of behaviour without the pressing urgency of an approaching deadline. However, once set, a new routine can be a very powerful tool to reinforce healthy behaviour.
The most successful changes are effected using pieces from both methods – setting a goal, and creating a new routine. If you’re looking to maintain the good habits you’ve developed over the past few months with respect to running, we have a few suggestions to help you out:
1. Use old routines to keep up new ones.
An extremely effective method of establishing a new routine is to tack it onto an existing one. Do you have a weekly coffee date with a friend to catch up? Turn it into a weekly jog together, and do your catching up on the trail. Do you have a regular podcast that you tune into? Listen to it on your run, instead of sitting at home. Find a regular activity you engage in, and look for ways to make it active. Associating a new event with an already ingrained one facilitates the formation of a new habit.
2. If you’ve met your goal, pick another one.
The Vancouver Sun Run is an extremely well-known event, but it certainly isn’t the only one. The summer is a great time to be a runner because of all the fun events that come around. The month of April alone is host to five fun runs, all in the Lower Mainland. Here are a few ideas:
Sunday, April 28th: The Game of Life (5 and 10km run/walk benefiting the Commonweath Games’ grassroots sport programs in developing countries). Stanley Park. http://www.events.runningroom.com/site/?raceId=7384
Sunday, May 27th: Run for Water (5, 10 km and half marathon/marathon run to raise funds for clean water development in under-privileged communities). Abbotsford. http://abbotsford.runforwater.ca/
Friday, June 15th: North Shore Credit Union Longest Day Road Race (5 and 10 km run/walk benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Vancouver Thunderbirds Junior Development Track Program). UBC.
For more great runs, check out the community list online at the Running Room: http://events.runningroom.com/hm/?sub=1
3. Involve others.
No man is an island, and a new habit has a better chance of sticking if you tell people about what you’re trying to achieve. Ask a friend or family member to be your supporter – tell them what you’re trying to do, and how they can help. Also, find a running buddy and set a regular time for running. You’re much less likely to skip out on a session if you know someone is there waiting for you.
4. Recognize success. Don’t dwell on failure.
Give yourself a proverbial pat on the back for meeting your goals – big or small. Tie in meaningful rewards to achieving your goals. A new pair of runners, a relaxing bath, or a night out with friends to celebrate are examples of ways you can recognize success. Conversely, if you fall off the fitness wagon, it’s important that you avoid the mental trap of negative self-talk. Recognize what led to your misstep, take corrective action, and move on. No one brings in a new routine without a few missteps – what’s more important is that you keep on trying!
So to all you runners out there (new and seasoned alike), we wish you good luck and happy trails – keep up the good work.
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