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Starting a Running Routine

For years I was told that running might help with my energy levels, my mental health, and overall have a positive impact. I’d try it for a few days or weeks, but always give up. Running was time-consuming, physically difficult, and not immediately rewarding. Then, last summer, I managed to add running to my routine, mostly thanks to reducing daily farm chores and having an opening in my daily schedule.

Photo credit Maine Running Photos

It took about a month for the routine to not be a slog, and it required setting goals to keep me committed. Here are a few ways I was able to commit to running:


As I said, I added running into my daily routine by removing other things. That way I never felt like I was losing any of the day’s productivity to my runs. Even without removing something else, I think it’s crucial to add a new and maybe less-than-enjoyable habit at the same time every day, so it becomes routine.


At first my goal was just to make it around the two-mile road loop that we live on. As I got better, I wanted to be faster and I wanted to run in races. Signing up for races was, for me, a huge motivator. Otherwise, my only goal would be beating myself, and it would be easy to not hold myself accountable. With a race to run for, I felt like I had to train every day. I got the Runna App, which I highly recommend. Runna gives you a training plan with different distances and types of runs throughout the week, and it takes your progress so you know if you are improving or not. You can set a goal for a particular race or just “get fit” or “maintain” if you aren’t sure when you want to race. This isn’t an ad and I’m not affiliated with Runna, but I will say that I tried several running apps and this one was by far the best and most motivating.

Make it Fun

Every day when I run I listen to podcasts. For me, it’s daily coverage of my favorite sport (Formula One) and a couple of daily news podcasts. Daily is important here because it’s fresh, it isn’t something I could listen to the night before while making dinner or something. It’s special “for my run” entertainment, and it is something I am interested in which keeps me engaged even as I get tired. For you it might be a crime podcast, or music, or whatever else — but add a little something to your run that makes you get up and feel excited at least for that podcast, even if you aren’t that excited about the run.

Other Health

I wasn’t a great runner at first because I was not very fit. Whoever says that homesteading is a fitness program is just wrong! I invested in doing a daily pilates or yoga routine, stretching, and eventually added weights. I watch what I eat more, not for quantity but for quality. Each little thing I’ve changed outside my running routine to make me healthier (especially weights) has had a huge impact on my runs — how fast I am, and how breathless or tired I am afterwards. 

So why bother with all of this? Running has a huge domino effect. Your runs become moments of peace in an otherwise busy schedule, times you can focus on just running. This helps keep your brain clear throughout the day. Running means pushing through when you are exhausted and you don’t think you can continue — and that means you’ll know you can do it when moments like that crop up in the rest of your life. And yes, you do eventually start to feel more energized with a regular exercise routine, even if at first it just feels exhausting. 

One of my favorite things about running, even as I’ve signed up for races against other people, is that at the end of the day your real competition is yourself. You know how fast your last lap was, how long your last run was. Your goal is to do better. There’s no outside input of someone else saying you should be this fast, and there’s no judgment when you are on the road training. You just have to show up every day and try to improve — and if that isn’t a great metaphor for life, I don’t know what is.


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