Starting a running habit

4 mins

Thinking about making running a part of your morning routine? Here are some notes on kickstarting this habit.

Very recently, I took up running as a permanent fixture in the mornings. It’s something that I didn’t believe that I could possibly take up in a million years.

I wrote about my love for yoga last year. Getting out for a run was, in my mind, “next level”.

As kids, running wasn’t a big deal. I mean, we used to do it naturally as part of play. What’s changed? Since we fossilised into our desk chairs at work (compensated for the fact that we’re evolving to use standing desks)? Or when we developed a bit of negative self-talk around exercise sans fancy gym? Oh, the horrors!

The reality is that it’s hard to build a lunchtime gym habit as a lawyer (or generally busy body) when you’re constantly on-task during the day. The gym is also the last place you want to hang out at the end of a big day. Getting something important done at the start of the day, like exercise, is a solution.

What I’ve found at the embryonic start, is that starting a running habit comes partly down to getting a lot of nutty fears out of your head as an adult. And worse, if you’re a lawyer who has read far too many Torts cases about bad/silly accidents. What if I trip over on the pavement and lose my front teeth?! What if a pigeon pooped on my hair halfway through? What if someone chases me down the street? What if I freeze to death in winter? (By the way, it’s Melbourne, not the Arctic.)

On a random note, some of the more prominent Torts cases tell us that you are likely to have a much worse time:

  • Getting out of your car to help another person who flew out of their car, then getting run over by another car: Chapman v Hearse (1961) 106 CLR 112. The defendant was a Mr. Hearse, no joke.

With this said, I hope I haven’t jinxed myself here.

Day 1 tips

A few things that have helped with getting started:

1. Prepare

Get your running gear ready the night before. Yes, it means laying out your top, bottoms, socks and unlacing your shoes so you can get in them as quickly as possible. We know that it’s easier to form a habit when you reduce friction (and excuses).

The first day of starting to run is the hardest, so take it easy. You can try a brisk walk on Day 1. When you realise that you’re not going to lose your front teeth, get pooped on or freeze to death—it gives you a huge confidence boost. It also helps to start in warmer weather (like now).

2. Stretchhhhhhh!

Getting warmed up is important unless you’re going for an injury.

3. Don’t run to Marathon on the first go

The issue with people who start a new habit, like F45 or whatever faddish diet that exists this second—is that, for some reason, we can’t help but take everything to the EXTREME. Again, if you’re aiming for an injury, please do run to Marathon in Greece.

Otherwise, be kind to yourself. Take it slow at the start and aim to build up.

4. Bring a decent jumper for when you cool off

You can go from hot → cold really quickly when you stop running. Bring something warm-ish to ward off the wind chill after.

5. Inspiration helps

So how did I get started?

First, inspiration from a wonderful friend who runs six days a week. It has changed her life (and I hope some of it will one day rub off on me).

Second, inspiring books that have made me reconsider running as a “thing”:

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami is an ode to running by the world-renowned author. He goes into delightful detail about pushing through the last stretch, his appreciation for ultramarathons, and how it’s the backbone of his writing career.

Jog On: How Running Saved My Life by Bella Mackie talks about how running can help when dealing with a divorce and mental health problems. Mackie started running in an alleyway because she was too embarrassed about being seen in public… that was, until she realised that no one cared.

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley is a funny, warm and poignant story about figuring out how to run, from what to wear … to surviving a snooty shoe sales assistant.

Image credit // Bruno Nascimento

Updated: 18 February 2020