MY ‘SUMMER’ RUNNING STREAK was started March 22. There’s no significance to that day, other than it was as good as any day to take up a challenge that would worry me until it began. March 20, the first day of spring, had already passed, one of the ‘marker’ days I had intended to initiate this nice-weather daily routine. April 1 was the next ‘marker’ day that seemed to be right for beginning a one mile/day running commitment. However, I was also anxious activities on that day would also present some type of barrier, since it was a travel day. And so on.
Every future possible ‘marker’ day (meaning there was some significance to the day by which the start would be marked) was causing worry. To avoid ongoing anxiety over something so trivial, I just got STARTED. No one was alerted, no announcement was issued, no tally was recorded until 3 consecutive days of effort were made. On that 3rd day I acknowledged I had a streak going to myself. On the 4th day my husband was told to expect a delay in our setting out on an errand until after it was completed. Then it was official. Today, April 1, seemed like a good ‘marker’ day to admit it to everyone else.
In retrospect, this approach to starting a challenge might seem silly. But it’s one approach you might consider if you are fretting over starting a new routine like a running challenge. As the prospect of beginning looms before THE START DAY, overthinking potential difficulties can generate such craziness that we sabotage our well-meaning selves.
The FIRST PART of the approach might be, if there’s no specific reason to delay, to simply start. Pronto. As NIKE is famous for saying, “JUST DO IT”™.
The SECOND PART of the approach involves keeping goals confidential until personally satisfied you are on track to success. Many running articles advise enlisting the support of family and friends in advance of training for a goal race to ensure adherence to the plan. The opposite might be more helpful.
A research study from way back in 1995 measured exercise adherence in 50-65 year olds. Only the abstract was available, so details were scarce. However, I was surprised to see that the summarized findings backed-up what I found to be true for myself.
The results indicated that exercise adherence was better when support was given specifically for exercise (like training for a race) compared with general social support (like believing in yourself)*.
Early on, in the first 6 months of the program, adherence was BETTER among those who preferred a LESSER amount of support from exercise staff (like a trainer). After 6 months (7-12 months), those who received support from both family/friends and exercise staff benefitted more. Home-based programs were associated with greater adherence.
I AGREE WITH what the study abstract seems to show, that initially it may be better to QUIETLY decide to commit to a goal and start moving forward without a lot of outside attention and hoopla.
There’s plenty of time (maybe not as long as 6 months?) to garner support for a specific running goal, after a few lower-level goals have been met to increase your personal confidence (getting out regularly and following a plan) that the ultimate goal is within reach.
Part of this post was lifted from a 2015 BLOG post which discussed an article on how to make training a habit from Makenzie Lobby Havey on ACTIVE.com. For the entire post see the link below.
Whatever challenges you are contemplating for the summer, determine whether an abrupt early start may be more beneficial to you than anticipating and waiting for that special marker day in the future. You may want to share knowledge of your intentions with only a few close supporters initially, after proving to yourself you can handle the commitment.
“Sources of social support as predictors of exercise adherence in women and men ages 50-65 years.” by Oka RK, King AC, Young DR
“Making a habit of your training” BLOG post December 16, 2015.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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