I’m in awe when I meet runners who have run for decades. You know, the age groupers who have been running for 30, 40, or 50 years. It’s truly amazing.
I always ask what their secret is to a long, successful running career. And they always tell me the same thing – it comes down to basics. There’s no magic formula or secret answer guaranteed to keep you running for the long haul. Rather, it’s a bunch of simple habits that add up to make running a lasting hobby.
Veteran runners usually:
- Have a goal. From races to running streaks to keeping their cholesterol down to chatting with running buddies, long time runners lace up their shoes every day for a reason. That goal is enough of a carrot to keep them going.
- Are consistent. Whether it’s running the same loop every day before work, meeting with the same running group every Sunday for a long run, or hitting the treadmill most days on their lunch hour, veteran runners make running a part of their regular routine. It’s as much of a habit for them as brushing their teeth.
- Overcome their obstacles. Successful runners don’t regularly skip runs. Instead, they find ways to overcome their excuses. They may run at a different time of day or alter their goals, but they always figure out how to keep running at the top of their priority list.
- Listen to their bodies. Those who have been running for years see beyond their next finish line – they view running as a forever commitment. When they feel an uncomfortable twinge in their knee, they take some time off from running. If they feel burnt out during marathon training, they may skip the race or drop down to the half. Veterans habitually make wise choices that help them extend their running careers.
- Are open to trying new things. Some veteran runners have ran almost every race distance out there, tried multiple types of shoes, and left footprints on nearly every trail in their hometowns. They know that running the same route day in and day out – or following the same training plan each season – is boring. They find ways to keep running fresh and exciting.
- Have figured out what works. Long-term athletes know what to eat before they run, how to fuel on the run, what shoes they like, what gear works best, how much they can run without getting injured, so on and so forth. There’s no second guessing themselves, which takes a lot of stress out of running and racing.
- Learned from their mistakes. However, it likely took veterans many years to figure out what works best for them. Many have their own stories of overuse injuries, bonking on long runs, or forgetting to bring their shoes to a race. Instead of dwelling on slip-ups, they’ve learned from their errors so they don’t make the same mistakes again.
How long have you been running? Do you have any words of wisdom to share on how to make running a habit?
Written by Jen Matz.