Deep in Copper Canyon of Northern Mexico resides a small indigenous tribe called the Tarahumara. Also known as Rarámuri, or 'running people' -- they live to run. In the 16th century when the Spanish invaded, some of the tribe fought (and perished) while others fled. They evolved into the ultimate joggers. And they don't just run marathons distances, these folks (men, women, old and young alike) routinely run 200 to 250 miles in one go. Astonishingly one tribe member holds a record for covering 435 miles (the distance from New York to Cleveland) in just over two days.
There are also those that run each and every day for years on end. These are not like Will Ferrell's antics in Old School -- these are true streakers. The world record is actually 52 years and 39 days of consecutive running and is held by England's Ron Hill. The former Olympian ran at least a mile every single day, regardless of injuries or any other circumstance.
I'm not sure about either of these strategies, but I can personally attest to the regularity of it all. Forming a habit of running is like anything else -- it's not up for discussion of whether you'll do it, it's only a question of when. Here are three tips that have helped me maintain the rhythm.
Find and Keep your When
If you can quash your run first thing in the AM, I'd say go for it. Otherwise, if you're like me, before lunch or later in afternoon are good bets too. All of our habits follow a simple 'cue > activity > reward' cycle, so your job is simply to know your cue. Safeguarding the time you run each will help d design out any sorry excuses you might dream up. If you're the type that needs a little bit more accountability, then a running buddy and set date and time is the easiest hack. Ultimately, it's the proven benefits of running that will be the true motivator.
I also am adamant on slipping on my joggers as soon as I arrive in a new city. It helps me acclimate, get over jet lag, and is a great way to discover the neighborhood right off the bat.
Run As You Feel
Glance over any good marathon training program, and you'll typically see a day or two a week for running as you feel (AYF) day. I love these days. You lace up and hit the road without any specific goal other than moving how your body tells you. No pacing, timing, intervals, or the like. You can set the distance you want to go but that's about it. Works magic.
Ten Percent More Time
My friend, Emily told me she was going to start running (twice a week) as a New Years resolution. Everyone is different but going from zero to running twice a week requires serious discipline. And as it concerns habit forming, it's much easier to start easy and build on your successes. Not surprisingly, Emily hasn't quite met her goal.
Layering in more time is the trick. In this case, Emily could have started out with a short 20-minute run during the week and a longer 45-minute jog on the weekend. Each week she could add 10% more time to the run so that by week 4 she's running 27-minutes in the week and an hour on the weekend. Voila, she's rocking steady.
Now that you've got some tips and tricks up your sleeve the question becomes what runners to sport. If you're like the Tarahumara then you'll run barefoot or in huaraches, thin homemade sandals. However, chances are you'll be getting your Pegasus or Gels laced up. Whatever footwear you choose, take solace in the fact the fact that you were born to run.
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