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How to Start Running Consistently 


Article by Alissa Henry

Photography by Various

If you're like me, when the quarantine first started, you had an enormous list of goals.

I was going to declutter my entire house, remodel the laundry room, meal plan consistently, overhaul my pantry, write one blog per day, scale back on social media, decorate the family room, plant a beautiful flower garden, learn TikTok, potty train my 2 1/2-year-old and run 100 miles each month.

I think this is week nine (or 10) of the quarantine and...well, I've run 100 miles each month. Yay for me. Everything else, though? Not so much.

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Running has been my go-to throughout the pandemic. It's given me something to do, something to look forward to and something to look back on. It's given me "socially distanced" time with friends and much-needed outdoor time with my toddler via stroller runs on nice days. It helps clear my mind, balances out the #QuarantineBaking, and gives me a sense of accomplishment.

I started running consistently 18 months ago after only talking about it for a while. Since then, I've run 5Ks, 4-milers, 10Ks, a 20-miler, a half-marathon, full marathon and recently completed the virtual Yeti Challenge—5 miles every four hours in a 24-hour period (#QuarantineMadeMeDoIt).

So while I have absolutely no advice on how to transform your pantry, I do have some advice on how to start running as a consistent hobby.

1. Decide you can and you will.

This is perhaps the most important part. Until you decide that you can run and that you will make running a habit, then your plan won’t work. Why? Because there will be times when you feel like you can’t do it. You may have to fight against the strong desire to bake and Netflix instead. Or you may feel too out of shape, too tired, too busy, etc. You have to commit, and to commit means doing it even when you don't feel like it. In fact, it means going for a run especially when you don't feel like it.

2. Pick a (realistic) goal race.

While most of the big, organized races have been canceled or postponed, there are countless virtual races available every day. You can sign up for virtual marathons, half-marathons, 5Ks, trail runs, obstacle course races, you name it. Signing up for one in the future gives you something to work toward. You don’t want it to be too far out because then you’ll feel like you have plenty of time to get started. But if it’s too close, it’s an unrealistic goal and you risk giving up or pushing through to the point of injury.

One of the most popular “beginner” running programs is a nine-week program called “Couch to 5K.” Based on that timeline, a race 9-12 weeks out is a good goal. Most 10K and half-marathon training plans want you to have a solid base of running 2-3 miles without stopping. So for those races, I recommend 14-16 weeks out. If you decide to start your running habit on July 1, then you can realistically run a 5K or even a 10K in early fall. You may even be able to run a half-marathon in late winter, early spring. And perhaps by then, we'll be running big organized in-person races again!

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3. Figure out your best days and time of day to run.

Depending on your existing life schedule, running in the morning, daytime or evening will make the most sense. This doesn’t mean that it won’t require sacrifice on your part, but it just means you need to figure out what requires the least amount of sacrifice. Before the pandemic shut everything down, 5 a.m. runs worked best for me. I was able to run and get back home while my husband and toddler were still in bed. For others, evening runs after work are the best time of day. Now, I like late-morning or midday runs because I can do a stroller run with my son through the neighborhood. That gets him outside for fresh air while I'm also getting in my miles in for the day.

Of course,, you can change adjust your running schedule depending on your needs for the week, but having a general idea of when you like to run usually just gives you one less thing to think about week-to-week and day-to-day. Plus, once you figure out what days/times work for you, it will be easier to stick with your plan.

4. Find an accountability partner or group.

This is a big one for me. I don’t think I would have made running a habit without my running groups: Moms Run This Town and Black Girls Run. Both are free social clubs built around running “meet-ups”. There are other running groups that have a fee, but they come with coaches and individualized training in a group setting.

Of course with social distancing, it may be harder to find a small group meet-up. Perhaps your spouse or best friend or neighbor could be your running partner. Regardless, it’s easier to get out of the door—especially initially—when you know someone is waiting for you to join them for a run. You could even "meet up" virtually, which means you and a partner agree to run a certain distance at a certain time and then compare notes afterward via text message.

5. Keep track of the miles.

Search your app store of choice, and you will find tons of great options that will help you keep track of the miles you’ve run. I use RunKeeper and the activity app on my Apple Watch/iPhone. This may be a personality preference, but I insist on tracking my miles and pace and everything that can be tracked on an app. This helps keep my motivation going by seeing how far I’ve run. It may help you too!

I hope these tips help you start and stick to your running goals! I would love to hear about your progress. Send me a message on Instagram at @alissahenrytv!

And if you're looking for a FREE virtual 5K, sign up for BOBGearUp Virtual 5K happening June 11th through June 17th.

If you don't feel that you can run 3.1 miles yet, that's OK because you can also walk it. A mile is a mile!

The virtual race is open to everyone and, when you sign up, you may receive a medal and a chance to win their new Alterrain Pro Jogging Stroller. I have one, and it is amazing.

Happy running!