Over the past few months, runners everywhere have been lacing up — some for the very first time. According to MapMyRun, 2020 runs tracked in the app are up 144% over last year. With gym doors closing thanks to the pandemic, pounding the pavement became a legitimate alternative to alleviate anxiety, as long as you’re social distancing and following local guidelines.
Alas, just like the excitement that comes with the first day of school or even a new training program, the fanfare of being a new runner may wane after some time. If this sounds familiar, you’re certainly not alone.
Here, experts dive into how to keep the good vibes rolling with your regular run routine.
SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF
After you build your running base, you may want to establish a personal goal to preserve your motivation. This can be something as simple as hitting a certain target each week for your regular mileage. Or, it could be a little more specific, like training for a virtual race. “On race day, you can use your watch or phone to track your distance and pace and upload your results afterward,” suggests Natalie Niemczyk, DPT, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, RRCA-certified run coach and owner of Revolution Running Company. “By having a long-term goal to work toward, it may help you to spring off the couch or out of your bed and put on your running shoes on days you might not want to.”
LEAN INTO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR INSPIRATION
Sometimes seeing photos or videos of other runners popping up in your feed can help light a spark in you — good news: There’s plenty of inspiration to go around. Find and follow accounts that inspire you to take on the run, and share your personal victories.
JOIN A LOCAL RUNNING GROUP
As a new runner, finding individuals who share your passion can help you stay accountable and keep getting outside. “You will be surprised to find that most running groups are made up of recreational runners, just like you, with all different experiences and backgrounds,” says Niemczyk.
Even though not all running groups are meeting in person due to the pandemic, some have group chats or social media outlets where you can ask questions or post personal accomplishments. That comradery may just be the ticket you need to propel you to new mileage milestones, and even help you pick up the pace. According to research, those who tackled an effort with a virtual partner could stick with their chosen activity longer.
MIX UP YOUR RUNNING ROUTINE
You don’t need to go out there and do the same loop or type of run every day. Instead, mix up your strategy, suggests Cortney Logan, co-founder of Denver-based bRUNch Running an RRCA-certified run coach. “By changing up your mindset and your workouts, you get that ‘new’ sensation time and time again,” she adds.
What’s this look like in practice? Start by adding in a day of speed work or hill repeats into your week of training. The added challenge and learning curve may be exactly what you need to feel amped about the morning alarm.
HIRE A COACH
Runners tend to think of hiring a coach only when training for an in-person race. But, now is actually a perfect time to hire a coach, especially as a beginner, to help you define your personal goals, understand a training program, decrease your risk of injury and provide you with motivation and support, says Niemczyk. If you want to warm up to the idea of a run coach, you can try virtual coaching like MapMyRun’s Form Coaching feature.
Whether you want to run your first mile or set a PR, having a plan gets you there faster. Go to the MapMyRun app, tap “Training Plans” — you’ll get a schedule and coaching tips to help you crush it.