Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Runs on Espresso with me, Jenna a mid-pack runner. Runs on Espresso is a podcast all about running. I’m not a professional but have been running since 2012 so I think I’ve picked up a few things. I’m also still learning and trying to be better. I hope you will join me on my journey!
This week I want to talk about consistency. It’s something I’ve been struggling with since 2004. A TL;DR version: I quit dance around 2003/2004 and needed something else to do to stay active. So I randomly ran. Sometimes outside, sometimes on the treadmill (if I belonged to a gym at the time). In 2012 I decided to do a 5k and 5-mile race over Thanksgiving. I’ve been *mostly* running ever since.
I say mostly because I’ve taken a few breaks. I had some medical issues. And I will run for weeks, months, and then just stop for a few weeks or a month.
And I hate when I stop because it’s a bitch to get back into it.
One of my favorite quotes is “If you are tired of starting over, stop giving up”. I don’t know who originally said it. I heard it years ago and it’s stuck with me. I know it’s true and I often remind myself about it when I’m struggling to workout or run. I try not to take more than a few days off of being active because I know a few days can easily turn into a few weeks and then a few months if I’m not careful.
What about you? Do you struggle with this too?
Consistency is hard but it’s also important. It’s how we become better at something. It’s how we achieve our goals. It’s why when we sign up for a race we pick out a plan and try to follow it as closely as we can. We know this is the right way to go about it.
Let’s be real, we’ve all signed up for a race and ran it unprepared. I know I have. I’ve done a couple of half marathons without training. It’s not the worst thing ever but it certainly doesn’t lead to my best race experience. Or more like the days after feel even worse. The race tends to be a better experience (and days after) if you are consistent before the event.
Consistency is always good but oh so hard to do.
So, how exactly do we become consistent? How do we make sure if we fall off the wagon we don’t let it keep rolling while we sit and pout on the side of the road? It’s hard to try and catch that wagon. I know. I fall off a lot. Like the past week. I’m off and not even trying to catch back up. I know it’s going to be a bitch to do but I can’t just sit around on my ass forever. Although I would like that. I think my natural state is “lazy”.
So what can we do when we want to be better and get back and stay on that wagon?
We have to make it a habit. I know, I know, easier said than done. Running or any exercise should be part of your everyday routine, like showering or brushing your teeth. Find a time that works best for you. Your schedule, your best time. For me, I prefer afternoon or evening workouts but I know my willpower will fade some days (especially summer because the heat just kills me). So I try to do it in the morning but if I don’t sleep well (like this past week) I can’t get myself going without coffee but then it’s too late because of the summer heat. Yikes, you can see my trail of excuses.
When I can actually convince myself to get out for a run I give myself 15 minutes. I tell myself that I only have to go out for 15 minutes and if I am still feeling like crap I can stop. I can think of maybe one or two times where I still felt like crap and stop. Pretty much every time I keep going and do whatever workout I have planned. It’s a great plan and pretty easy because it’s only 15 minutes but usually gets you into the mood to keep going.
The 15 minutes is a great thing if you’ve already been chugging along but what if you’ve been off the wagon for a while? In this case, start small.
I’ve only been out a week so I’ll probably start with the 15 minutes but if you’ve been out a while longer starting small is the way to go. If you want a guided start small find a couch 2 5k program or app. I’ve used it in the past when coming back and used a similar program after my broken leg.
If you don’t need a guided program try a run/walk between street lamps or other landmarks. Blocks, driveways, whatever works for you.
And always always always go slower than you think. A lot of people think they can’t run because they start out too fast. If you’ve never run or been out for a while you may not be able to run fast right away. Work up to it. And don’t go out every day. Start with every other day. Or every few days.
Let’s take a brief break for a word from my sponsor.
And we’re back!
Part of consistency is setting attainable goals. If you haven’t listened to episode 3, Let’s Get Smart. I go over setting SMART goals. So go listen to that next and then write down a SMART goal.
Speaking of writing down, I highly encourage you to get a fitness journal. I use the Believe training journal and a plain journal. Find what works for you. I use my Believe journal to write down stats from my runs and workouts and a brief sentence of how I felt. Then in my regular journal I write down something positive from the run and 1-3 things I’m grateful for. It’s all about celebrating your wins, big or small.
Having your wins written down helps when you hit a bad day. Because the bad day will happen. Instead of letting it get you down, grab your journal and flip through some of the entries. You will get a boost remembering all those great moments. Consistency is all about working through those bad days.
Sometimes consistency means switching it up. If you’ve been building up slowly and are ready to shake it up a bit, try something new! Start adding one day a week of speed work. Not sure what to do? There are lots of workouts online. You can google running speed work. Or the Nike Run Club app is free and they have a ton of built-in workouts. They have a get started collection, all with guided runs. It’s a great way to do your first speed run or long run.
Maybe you always run alone, in your neighborhood. Why not see if you can find a friend to run with? Running buddies can help hold you accountable. They are counting on you to show up so you feel obligated to get out of bed and go. Maybe you’re a solo runner. Why not find a park to run at? If you are feeling brave you can head out to the trails. There are a lot of trails for beginners. Look around a little bit and find somewhere new to run!
Another way to switch it up is to add in some cross-training. Hop on a bike. Go to a class. Mixing up your workouts can keep you from being bored and help you stay consistent in working out. Doing other workouts can help improve your running. Strength training is great for building overall strength while cycling or swimming is helpful for improving your aerobic capacity.
One last thing about consistency, injuries. If you are feeling sore, take a day off. There’s a difference between muscle soreness from starting a new routine and pain that somethings wrong. You know your body best. Make sure to take rest days and if it feels like something more than new exercise muscle soreness contact your doctor. I am not a doctor, I am not your doctor. I have no medical background so if you haven’t worked out in a while or ever be sure to talk to your doctor. I don’t want anyone getting hurt! I want everyone healthy and happy.
I’m sure there are many more ways to stay consistent and get your runs in. What are your best tips to being consistent?
As for me, I am committing this week to get back on track and running consistently again. The weather should start cooling down a bit (and by cooling down I mean being 100 instead of 110). I will start with a few short runs and end with a couple of trial runs for the Every Damn Trail. I’ll be starting another 12 week round of weight lifting. Start small and take baby steps. I listened to my body and took a break but now it’s time to slowly get back out there.
So, now for coffee corner. I’ve been on a Netflix binge. I watched all of Sweet Magnolias in like a weekend. It’s one of those shows that I can’t help watching. It’s like a lifetime movie in TV format. It’s not great tv but I can’t turn away. Once I finished that I tried to watch Locke and Key. I was a huge fan of the graphic novels. I watched the first episode and could not get into it. I will try to watch a couple more episodes. I try to give shows at least 3-5 episodes before I really decide. The TV show just felt so different from the comics. Ugh, it’s so hard to love a book so much and then have the tv or movie fail. So I started Hart of Dixie. It’s kind of like Sweet Magnolias, so bad it’s good. I can’t stop watching. I’m in season three right now and I hate the Joel/Zoe storyline. He needs to go back to New York and Zoe and Wade need to get back together. I have no one to discuss this show with so it feels so good to get that out! Ha!
As far as current TV, I’ve been loving Lovecraft Country and The Vow. The acting and costumes in Lovecraft Country are amazing. I wish I could binge it but I’ll live with one episode a week. The Vow is an interesting documentary on the NXIVM cult. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and read several articles but seeing it in action so to speak is fascinating. Cults in general are a fascinating thing. I’ve read, listened, and watched a lot of things on different cults. It’s a study in psychology and human nature.
Ok, that is all I have for you this week. Remember, start small, go out for 15 minutes, and track your progress!
I surveyed some runners for topics they want to hear. The one thing every one said? Injuries. I will cover this topic but I need to know, what are your injury stories? What about injuries do you want to know? What’s your go to way to occupy your time when injured? Let me know! Maybe I’ll work it into the podcast.
Be sure to find me on Instagram at runs_on_espresso, head to my website runsonespresso.com or email me email@example.com to let me know.