Want to improve your running during 2020? Strive for consistency. It’s that time of year when everyone makes their New Year’s running resolutions. These often revolve around trying to go longer, get faster, race a new distance, or avoid injury. There is one consideration that will help you meet your resolutions regardless of what they entail: being consistent. This time of year, consistency usually requires getting out there when you would rather stay under the covers or remain inside. Inclement weather is hardly a motivator and it’s crucial to remember that sometimes just getting out there and doing some running is a victory.
Ron Hill at the Enschede Marathon in 1975 (Dutch National Archives)
Ron Hill ran at least a mile a day for over 52 years –– that’s consistency.
Consistency doesn’t necessarily mean upping your mileage. I am not recommending running more. Rather, it is all about taking regular runs and, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, always doing something –– whether it be cross-training, stretching, massage, or zeroing in on your diet –– to contribute to your fitness. Being consistent will establish the fitness and mileage base that will help you to accomplish your running goals during the upcoming year. The secret to effective training is consistency over time.
Running consistently allows your body to develop fitness gains by building denser capillary networks, improving glycogen storage, increasing fat utilization, and improving biomechanical efficiencies. In January and February it’s all about establishing a base to support your training throughout the year. During base building, listen to your body and run by feel. Don’t concern yourself with pace and remember that it’s all about time on your feet. You’re going to go slower this time of year. Don’t worry about it. You can sharpen your speed when the weather gets better. If you have been consistent in your running the base that you have built will allow your speedwork sessions to take hold more quickly.
Keeping at it, of course, requires motivation and this can be problematic when the weather becomes uncooperative. There are several surefire ways to keep going. First, find some running partners. You will be less likely to ditch if you have already told someone that you will be meeting them for a run. This time of year there is definitely a “misery loves company” vibe to meeting in the cold, dark early morning to get your miles in, but it is also true that running with friends makes all of this a bit easier and more enjoyable. You might even think about joining a running club, such as the FFRC, for some instant running partners. In celebration of the new year, we're relaunching and reinvigorating the Fleet Feet Running Club. Here's the new registration link (also good for renewals): Fleet Feet Running Club Registration
Next, create an environment that fosters and supports consistency. Establish a routine, for example, that becomes second nature. I have previously discussed this, but many who have become consistent runners have paved the way by become morning runners. There are usually fewer distractions in the morning that can upend a running routine.
Consistency can depend on routine: become a morning runner.
Making sure that you have some precise goals for the future can also provide motivation. Choose a race or set yourself a mileage objective –– goals can be very individualized things. Simply put, run with purpose. When conditions are tough, remind yourself that current hardship will help contribute to success down the road. Finally, make yourself accountable by keeping a running log. Writing stuff down can help to prevent delusion. Not sure if you are pursuing your running in a consistent fashion? Check your log. Consistency requires that you be accountable to yourself, as well as to others.
Keep yourself accountable by keeping a running log. (It really worked for this guy.)
Ultimately, then, one of the best things that you can do at the start of the New Year is to commit –– or recommit –– to consistently pursuing your running. Good things happen when you keep at it, from establishing a great base for future workout success, to creating denser capillary networks and greater efficiencies, it all happens when we keep at it. Remember that the secret to training is consistency over time. Keep motivated by seeking support and friendship on the roads and pursue consistent running for a great 2020!