How to stick to your running routine as a sustainable habit

Few days ago, we had discussed about developing a running routine using C25K fitness plan:
http://www.smarthabits.in/posts/c25k-the-best-fitness-plan-to-develop-running-jogging-habit/

During the course of developing a new habit using a routine plan (C25K plan in this case), sticking to the routine is the biggest challenge because it requires lot of motivation. This motivation can be provided by a peer, but is not really sustainable because if the peer drops out, then you might lose interest and give up. Recollect that few days ago, we had discussed about the psychology of sustainable habits and the 4 Cs of habit loop here:
http://www.smarthabits.in/posts/psychology-sustainable-habits/

habit_loop
It has 4 parts: Catching cues (using triggers), complete the task, cherish the result, and crave for it (look forward to it).

Applying it to running habit, how do you catch the cues or use triggers? If you have decided to run every evening, but are held up on office most of the times, even the most sophisticated alarm cannot trigger the routine. One way to overcome this problem is by planning for a run in the morning so that you always wake up with a fresh mind and automatically prepare yourself for the routine.

The next part is “complete the task”. This part can be enhanced by making the process enjoyable. Some interesting ways to make your running enjoyable:

1) Run outdoors, amidst greenery: It can be a park or in the nearby woods where you can get a breath of fresh air which will rejuvenate your body & mind during the run.

2) Time your run during sunrise: Since the C25K plan requires 30 mins of your time, plan to start it 15 mins before the sunrise so that when you are halfway through the routine, you can witness and experience the rising sun. This experience cannot be described in mere words and you must be out there to find it out yourself. Also, the sunlight during sunrise is very beneficial for the body (not just in terms of vitamin D but also helps in rejuvenating the skin & glands).

run_sunrise
The above running tips will help you enjoy the whole process and even before you realize, your running routine would be completed.

Coming to the next part “Cherish the results”, a little bit of technology can definitely be used to track & cherish instant results, which in turn helps you remain motivated. Today’s smartphones (even low-end Android phones) have in-built GPS and pedometer, and there are tons of free apps which can be used to track movements. All that you need to do is just start the app and carry it in your pocket or “wear” it on your arm during the run. Such armbands are available for less than Rs 400 in online stores like Flipkart  & Amazon. If armband is annoying, you can go for waistbands instead.

armband
After completing the run, the app will store & display all the data in colorful charts & present detailed statistics for analysis which will in turn motivate you further. Also, such apps have an option to share the run statistics (chart) over social media which will further boost your confidence & motivation levels.
runtasticA promotional video of one such app (Nike+) gives an idea of how your smartphone can be used to track your run and provide statistics.

Download link for the Nike+ Android app:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nike.plusgps

Other popular Android apps for tracking runs:
Runtastic:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.runtastic.android&hl=en

Google Fit:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.fitness

Runkeeper:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fitnesskeeper.runkeeper.pro

As soon as you reach home, enjoy a cold shower (it has several health benefits) and treat yourself with a tasty healthy breakfast (Indians can try healthy varieties like Oats Dosa)
cold_shower
breakfastFollowing this sequence of running routine during sunrise followed by cold shower & healthy breakfast revs up your metabolism and keeps you active throughout the day which keep you motivated to continue this routine regularly and stick to the running routine as a sustainable habit.