QT: When It Comes to Making Progress, Consistency is King
I talk a lot about the role that consistency plays in your improvement as a runner.
Point blank, the best way to reach your running goals is by intelligently training for months/years.
In other words, consistency is king.
But training consistently, for months or years, is something that is much easier said than done.
The Obstacles to Consistency are Many
If training consistently was easy, I probably wouldn’t need to write this post, eh?
Why do so many runners struggle to maintain consistency in their training?
- Lack of motivation
- No accountability
These are just a few, of the many, reasons that I’ve heard from runners that struggle with consistency.
While these obstacles are very real, they are also very avoidable.
Overcome the Struggles to Find Consistency
Please remember that nothing is one size fits all.
When it comes to the following suggestions to help you run more consistently and continue making progress toward your goals, please remember that these are ultimately suggestions that have worked for me (or my clients) in the past. Use these suggestions as inspiration to begin to find the formula that will allow you to be consistent with your running.
Lack of Motivation:
This used to be a big hurdle for me.
When I had a race on the calendar, I was motivated to train. When I didn’t have a race scheduled, I slacked off quite a bit.
Maybe you can relate?
If this sounds like you, the obvious solution is also the most simple one: sign up for another race!
And for the record, that doesn’t mean sign up for races one after the next. In fact, I’d encourage you NOT to try to run all the races for reasons I talked about a few weeks ago.
But having a race on your schedule several months, or maybe even a full year, after the race you’re about to run can help you to stay motivated once you’ve collected your medal and (hopefully!) your new PR.
Even a local 5-10k race can be enough to keep you training regularly, so that is an option as well.
Another way to help overcome a lack of motivation is to switch your priorities.
When I most struggled with my consistency I wasn’t at a point in my life to be able to run many races. We just had Adi, my business wasn’t doing very well, and loading up the calendar with races just wasn’t feasible.
So I switched my focus.
I started to realize the value of building a solid base of fitness before focusing on getting faster, and that provided me with the motivation I needed to continue to train at zero dark thirty with a heat index of Mordor.
In the last year, I’ve only run a couple of races. Yet I’ve trained more consistently and probably made more progress than I ever have.
Why? Because my motivator was no longer racing but building my base so that when I can race again on a regular basis, I’ll be a PR machine.
Accountability is a tricky thing.
Technically, accountability is internal. It is actually doing what you said you’d do.
I don’t know about you, but I’m good at letting myself down.
It’s easy for me to tell myself to do something, only to find an excuse to let myself off the hook when the rubber meets the road.
But if someone else is counting on me? I’m in.
Having a running partner, or partners, can be an asset when it comes to staying accountable.
When you tell your friends you are going to be there at 5:30 in the morning on a Saturday, you get your butt out of bed when the alarm goes off and you show up.
But when you are just planning to run by yourself at 5:30, it’s a lot easier to turn the alarm off and pull the covers back over your head.
If you don’t have any running friends to help you stay accountable, you’re not out of luck!
Thanks to the internet, you have running friends all over the world to keep you on track.
Several of the people in our FB group regularly post their training selfies as a form of group accountability. And I know that a few have taken that accountability to the next level, exchanging DMs and text messages to encourage each other.
Invest in yourself and your training by hiring a coach. More than a few of my clients have told me that one of the biggest benefits they get from working with me is that they know I’ll be checking in to see how they are doing. They don’t want to have to tell me they didn’t run, so they do their workouts.
Having a coach provides a lot of benefits, and additional accountability is certainly one.
Running injuries suck.
There, I said it.
But nothing will kill your consistency like an injury set back.
That said, remember that most running injuries are avoidable.
The key is knowing how to avoid them.
The best option? Learn to listen to your body.
Your body will tell you when you are trying to do too much. Take note and back off a bit, odds are you avoid an injury.
Take note and back off a bit, odds are you avoid an injury. Ignore and power through? Your injury risk is heightened.
How else can you minimize your risk of injury? Slow down!
Easy running is vital to building your base of fitness without overtaxing your body.
I know I’ve recommended 80/20 Running more than a few times, but if you don’t quite follow the logic of slowing down to stay healthy and get faster, read it.
Remember, consistency in your training is one of the biggest things you can do to make progress towards your goals.
If you’re injured, you can’t train.
So listen to your body, do the little things consistently, and you’ll be on your way to being a more healthy and consistent runner.
We are all busy.
When life gets hectic, it is impossible to squeeze everything into 24 hours.
And in truth, it probably is impossible.
You can either let life be your excuse for a lack of consistency, or you can do what you need to do to get your runs in.
I prefer the second option, for the record.
So how do you make sure that life doesn’t get in the way of your training?
I’ve talked about a few options in the past, but one of my favorites is “inventing” more time.
- Waiting to pick the kids up after soccer practice? Get out of the car and run laps around the park for 30 minutes.
- Scrolling FB during your lunch break? Go run!
- Take your work clothes to the office on Monday morning, and the rest of the week run commute like Kyle Pietari (who is a lawyer, BTW) does.
Go through your schedule with a fine toothed comb, and I can promise that there is probably an hour or more each day that you could use for running. It might not be 60 straight minutes, but nothing says that you can’t run for 20 minutes a few times a day, right?
Find Consistency, Make Progress
We all know we need to try and find some consistency in our training. And we all know that it’s easier said than done.
Don’t give up.
If you want to reach your goals, the surest path is to continue training consistently.
It’s not always going to be easy, but in the end, it will be worth it!
Struggling to train consistently? Here are some tips to help you along. #runchat Click To Tweet
What is Your Biggest Struggle to Maintain Consistency in Your Running, and How Do You Overcome It?
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