Life is all about momentum. If work is going well, the success spurs you on to keep working hard. If you’re in a happy relationship, keeping the relationship healthy and happy seems easy.
Momentum is also critical for staying in decent shape. Fitness happens when you keep a consistent regimen, even if it’s a poorly designed or randomly generated training program. The athletes who still perform well into their 50s and beyond have all trained consistently over the years. Even when they’re injured or it’s the offseason, they stay active one way or another in lieu of running or their preferred sport.
As a runner, consistency means building a steady base of miles run at a relaxed, aerobic pace. This base accumulates over months and years, ensuring the adaptations in your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones that will keep you healthy and running without injury.
I’ve noticed athletes tend to make a commitment to fitness, sign up for their local 5k, follow a 12-week training program and then fall off the rails. That’s great, but real breakthroughs develop through day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year dedication to fitness. A study published in the December 2008 Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology said it’s impossible to optimize form, economy or aerobic development without lots of running over time. Long-term neurological and physiological adaptations requires consistent work.
Consistency doesn’t just apply to the frequency of workouts. It’s also about how consistently you adhere to the workout format. People who prioritize getting out every day see the greatest improvements in performance. But being consistent is hard, especially for people who started running later in life.
If you have trouble training consistently, remember this important truth: training comes last. That’s right. Last. Unless you’re a professional athlete, training is secondary to family and your job. And that’s OK.
Successful athletes keep their priorities in line. Design a training program that fits your lifestyle and you can follow consistently without having to sacrifice other areas of your life. You need a realistic training program, meaning one that’s easy to follow and gain momentum with. And it has can develop into a habit, which makes being consistent much easier.
Find The Time
Schedule time for your workouts as you would any other appointment. Don’t try to fit them in haphazardly; put workouts on your calendar or have a set time each day. Before I go to sleep each night, I always know what I’m going to run the next day and when I’m going to run it. The workout can change, of course, but penciling it in makes it much harder to miss.
If determining the “when” and the “what” to your own training is overwhelming, a coach might help you make the best use of your time and can create a plan that’s right for your lifestyle. Each workout will have a purpose, and consistent running will be at its core.