On Friday, I crossed the one-thousand mile threshold for 2014. It’s pretty neat. I started running casually about four years ago, and seriously about two years ago. The introduction of running into my routine has been nothing short of transformational. Combined with diet modification, running helped me lose, and keep off, about 35 pounds since late-2012.
I alternate between honing three factors: speed, distance, and consistency. On the first front, I’ve managed to squeeze my ten-mile runs to just under 80 minutes. And distance-wise, I’ve checked off my marathon box. And so, over the last two months, I’ve worked on a few different methods of upping my consistent weekly mileage:
1. I try to push myself to a consistent range of 30-35 miles per week, allowing me to bang out a consistent minimum of about 125 miles/month.
2. I’ve upped my workout frequency from 4-5 runs per week to 6-7, even if I only increase my total mileage by three or four miles, total. Even if my work schedule is hectic, I try to keep in mind that just about everyone has a spare 30-40 minutes in their day. It’s just a matter of prioritizing. Ron Friedman put it well in his Harvard Business Review article (emphasis mine), “Regular Exercise is Part of Your Job:”
What prevents us from exercising more often? For many of us, the answer is simple: We don’t have the time. In fairness, this is a legitimate explanation. There are weeks when work is overwhelming and deadlines outside our control need to be met.
But let’s be clear: What we really mean when we say we don’t have time for an activity is that we don’t consider it a priority given the time we have available.
3. Pushing my daily mileage from 5 miles to 7 miles, when possible. When time allows, I try to squeeze out an extra two miles. The extra sixteen minutes yields a huge benefit, in the long run.
4. Getting out of the house and running first thing in the morning. Everyone has different schedules and circadian rhythms. But as both a morning person and a procrastinator, I find that hitting the pavement by 7am is a great way to start my day, and avoid the distractions of emails and meetings later on.
A lot of the above goals are self-reinforcing. I’ll often find that running, say 31 miles in one week will spur me to do not less than that in the following week. I also obsessively track my runs in MapMyRun, so I have an accurate means of motivating myself. I’ve also recently noticed that Nike Running basically just tweets validating things right back at its followers, so 140 characters of inspiration are never far away.