There is hardly a time of the year when people think about sport more often than around the turn of the year. But what use is sport in your mind if your good intentions don’t turn into deeds? With these ten tips, you will go from being a sports-thinker to a runner. You just need a little patience – with yourself.
1. Only small steps lead to progress
The big beginning paradox in dealing with good intentions is this: if you really want to achieve something, you should start with many smaller steps. And by smaller I mean: Even smaller than you are currently thinking. The psychologist Mirjam Junge speaks of “micro habits”, ie tiny habits that can change a lot (book title “Small steps with a big effect”), which ritual expert James Clear recommends a unit of two minutesto build regularity. Because if you’ve never run before, five minutes of continuous running without interruption is a very good success – and if you can repeat this good success, it will be twice as good.
2. Progress feels better when you hold onto it
Especially at the start: Take care of yourself – and only of yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others who talk about pace or ultra marathons. Look at your own pace. But that’s what you should do: Pay attention to your successes by writing them down. If you can run for five minutes without a break, this should be written down. Use the minute marathon running calendar (download here as PDF), a running diary or an app in which you can view your successes over the past days and weeks. Enjoy what you have achieved – and try to preserve it. If you run slowly but regularly, progress and pace will come naturally.
3. Lots of running diary entries are better than quick entries
You are most likely to become a runner if you no longer notice you are running. If you manage to integrate runs naturally into your everyday life, you get the regularity that is most important for turning resolutions into action: run next to your child to school in the morning or jog on the way there to go shopping. The goal is to make running a habit. Because rituals are more important than results. Pay attention to regular entries in your running diary, you can safely ignore the speed or duration at the beginning.
4. Run, the details will come later
You don’t have to attach too much importance to equipment, breathing or running technique at the beginning. It is important that you do not run too fast (rule of thumb: You still need to be able to have a good time while running so that you have a good pace) and that there is no pain when you run. You can take care of the right shoes or perfect arm posture once you have started running.
5. Use the quarter trick
Long straight stretches can have a negative impact on your motivation to run. If you already see at the start that a very straight road is very boring ahead of you, a kilometer suddenly becomes much tougher than a winding run through many small residential streets where you often have to turn. I call such stretches quarter runs because they are best held in your neighborhood. Walk through the small sidewalks and side streets that you otherwise never use and just turn left at corners where you always only go right. In this way you avoid long and boring roads and you can set yourself small goals like: Two more corners or “I walk until I see a yellow car” like the one Marathon expert Jo Schoonbroodt in this interview recommends.
6. Willpower is like a plant – you need to take care of it
The quarter trick is primarily aimed at engaging your internal reward system. When we achieve goals (even if only to have mastered the distance to the next corner), we are happy about it. Use this joy to motivate yourself to run. I think the image of the weaker self, which you should overcome, is wrong. I prefer to look at willpower like a plant that you need to water and care for on a regular basis. Reward your willpower by accomplishing lots of small goals. In this context, the author Simon Sinek recommends choosing goals that are particularly easy to achieve. Because for him, good training is an “infinite game” (the title of his book).
7. Motivation mantra instead of inner weaker self
Resolving good resolutions is initially more about exercising willpower than physical skills. You have to show yourself: “I can do that.” You can learn tricks from the pros for this. In this interview, for example, the triathlete Jan Frodeno talks about an internal dialogue that he enters when doubts knock. This dialogue hardly differs from the motivation problems that beginners are familiar with. With the difference that the doubt knocks at Frodeno after cycling 144 kilometers. He then responds with a motivational mantra that he recites to himself. He chooses to launch a rocket. But you can also rely on motivating music.
8. Choose your running soundtrack
What music would be played if your run was a movie? Help yourself to trendy radio songs or pathetic motivational hymns from Hollywood films when you set off for the run. For example, if you hear “Remember my name” by the US rapper Fort Minor while you are walking, the text automatically puts you in a spirit of optimism. In the film “The Smurfs”, for example, his rhymes are used to introduce the grand finale of the hero’s journey: “This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill. Fifteen percent concentrated power of will. Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain. And a hundred percent reason to remember the name“(in German, for example:” Ten percent is about luck, twenty percent is skill. Fifteen percent is concentrated willpower. Five percent joy, fifty percent pain. The result is a 100 percent reason to remember this name “)
9. Be prepared for setbacks
Whether a good resolution works does not become apparent on the first or second day, but after a few weeks, when the setbacks come. If you know from the start that these motivational holes are coming, you may be less surprised and easier to follow the advice that James Clear formulated: Once is never. What he means: For once you can skip your resolution without worrying.
10. Surround yourself with people who are athletic
In this interview, running ambassador Anna Limbach reports on a study that found that the social environment has a major influence on how athletic you are yourself. Running groups can be helpful here, but you may also find inspiring running influencers who can motivate them with their posts. Certainly very helpful: Regular reminders like the SZ’s Sunday running newsletter!