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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

How to sustain the will to run as a daily habit

Nicole Hagobian, a marathon runner, running coach and sport and exercise scientist, has strategies for sustaining a daily running habit — like scheduling her runs just as if they were work meetings and laying out her running gear the night before.

By Hannah Seo

Nicole Hagobian, a marathon runner, running coach, and sport and exercise scientist at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, knows just how hard it can be to lace up her running shoes and get herself out the door.

Here are some suggestions for staying motivated.

Schedule runs like meetings

Hagobian treats her runs the same way she treats her work: with deliberation and deadlines.

“I personally put it on my calendar like it’s a meeting,” she said. “So it’s part of what I’m going to do that day.”

To accommodate her schedule, Hagobian runs early in the morning. If she’s feeling less than enthusiastic, she will remind herself how it will feel when she’s finished, and tell herself that if she doesn’t run in that moment, she’ll lose her chance for the day.

Enlist some help

Having a partner or group to run with (or to talk about runs with) can be a great source of encouragement, Hagobian said, especially if their strengths are different from yours.

For instance, Hagobian prefers speedwork (runs broken up by bursts of high-intensity effort) over long tempo runs (runs that maintain a challenging pace for long stretches of time). Her running mate prefers the opposite, so they rely on each other for motivation.

Use smart reminders

Visual cues — sticky notes on a mirror, alerts on your phone, running gear laid out the night before — can make it easier to get going when you’re busy.

Quiet negative emotions

Hagobian reframes negative thoughts into positive language. If she wants to avoid starting a run too fast, for example, she’ll think, “I’m going to start at a moderate pace” (positive) instead of, “I’m not going to start too fast” (negative).

Focus on a mile at a time

When she’s starting to feel overwhelmed by a long run, Hagobian will focus only on the stretch she’s on. She’ll say things like “I got you, Mile 1,” “You’re going down, Mile 2,” and so on.

Stay kind to yourself

Sometimes people will skip runs or cut them short when they’re not feeling their best, she said, but giving up on a workout often makes runners feel worse.

When she is feeling a little off, Hagobian said, she will pay less attention to how fast she is running and focus mainly on the fact that she’s putting in any effort at all.

Mixing things up by switching your route can also boost your interest and inspiration to run.

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