We often tell you how important it is to have good habits, not only because they are healthy but also because habits serve to build something much bigger: behaviors. Good habits build good behaviors, which ultimately benefit your peace of mind and your life.
It is easier to start with the small things because the big things, if you look closely, are made up of small pieces anyway. Habits, indeed.
That’s why even in running you can have attentions that turn into little habits that eventually become something much bigger: like well-being.
Finally, do not overlook another detail of habits: the root of the word comes from the Latin word “habitudo,” which in turn comes from “habitus,” meaning “dress.” In short, habit is something that fits you like a suit, and when internalized, it no longer weighs you down: you “wear” it without thinking about it anymore.
Let’s see what habits are important to have when running and what they help you build.
1. Changing routes
Changing the routes you run on is one of the easiest habits to adopt. Unless you follow a particular workout that requires you to know exactly the distances you run (e.g., intervals) and you are not obsessed with times, changing your route has oftenmany advantages: it makes your runs more fun and less boring and predictable, and it also always challenges your mind by constantly changing the data it has to reprocess. In short, if you are not required to be particularly focused on the athletic gesture or effort, change the route as much as possible. You can still reserve the more technical and challenging training for the “usual road” and relax on other days.
Why it’s good for you: challenging the mind and making it deal with ever-changing scenarios forces it to “recalculate” all the time. It is more challenging than putting it on autopilot and doing the same route over and over again, but challenging it serves to keep it from getting bored and pushes it to be more creative. The more important result, however, is another: keeping its plasticity high, that is, its ability to reconfigure itself, sharpens its speed of response to problems and helps it find solutions. If you think about it, getting it used to going down different physical paths trains it to find ever different and original solutions to new problems.
2. Varying surfaces
If they asked a sample of runners where they usually run, probably 90 percent would say “on the road,” meaning sidewalks or paved roads. Changing surfaces is a good habit especially because paved roads are the hardest surfaces to run on and, as such, put stress on your body. Solution? You can occasionally run on grass or rough terrain, especially practicing trail running. The advantages? In the first case that of unloading the musculoskelet system a little while still training it; in the second case that of training the cardiovascular system very effectively (the climbs are, for example, the equivalent of flat intervals ) and proprioceptive system, since it is more stressed the more the gradient of the type of surface changes.
Why it’s good for you: somewhat like varying routes, varying the type of surface helps you know how to deal with different situations by adapting quickly. Changing setup in a short time and especially doing so without feeling particular discomfort will result in you never feeling out of place outside your comfort zone.
3. Varying type of training
As you may have realized by now, varying is good! The same logic applies to the type of training you do. This may be a easy run or a more technical, a road race or trail run, or even-why not-change genres altogether: it is a great idea, for example, to devote workouts to other disciplines, such as free-body exercise, biking or swimming, to name but a few.
Why it’s good for you: in being more complete physically and, in relation to running and in life, to be more ready to face ever-changing situations with the right attitude. Most importantly, without having the perception that you can’t do it.
4. Challenge yourself
If the habit of challenging yourself puts you under stress, let’s try calling it something else: try to play as much as you can by setting small but important goals: run ten minutes longer than yesterday, run a mile longer, run once more.
The important thing is that these are small goals that you are unlikely to fail. The satisfaction of having done something more will outweigh their magnitude, guaranteed.
Why it’s good for you: in the attitude of always giving more, of never being satisfied because limits are not overcome suddenly but by approaching them little by little. To then jump them in a leap.
5. Using different shoes
If your wallet won’t be happy about opening too many times, your feet will thank you. When we get used to always running in the same type of shoes, we overlook a fact that is not at all minor, and that is that by doing so, we may unconsciously adopt wrong postures. In addition, shoe rotation is critical if you follow a varied training program that includes “normal” runs and more technical and faster workouts, longer or shorter distances, different surfaces.
Why it’s good for you: in your ability to adapt to different types of training and especially in developing your full physical potential. At the existential level, changing tools means preparing to face ever-changing situations with an elastic and trained mindset.
6. Change brands from time to time
Just as it is important to vary the type of shoe you run with, so is it important to change the brand you usually use. Staying faithful is one thing, doing so after trying different alternatives is another. In the former case it is laziness, in the latter it is an informed choice because it is the result of several trials that have decreed a preference for a particular model or brand. Never forgetting that every foot has its own shoe and that shoes are chosen with your feet and not with your eyes.
Why it’s good for you: in always stimulating your curiosity and healthy spirit of research. Before deciding one must understand and know all the elements that condition a choice; one cannot limit oneself to just one, that is, the known one. It is called informed choice.
7. Eat less when you are not exercising
This is an easy habit to understand but less so to implement. It is based on the simple observation that your caloric needs are higher on days when you work out and, of course, lower when you do not. If you eat exactly as much on the days you don’t exercise as when you do, you don’t burn off some of the food you eat, or at least not as much as you could if you ran. As a result you accumulate what your body cannot dispose of on that exact day because it cannot burn it off by exercising.
Why it’s good for you: in understanding that all days are not the same and that facing them with a different attitude is a skill. In short, you will understand how to adapt flexibly, accepting that life is made up of contingencies and that intelligence lies in how you deal with them.
8. Thinking for yourself
At this point-and especially with respect to this point-we really shouldn’t tell you anything: You should know what and how to think, right? In fact, this is more of an invitation to accept these tips of good habits by measuring them on yourself and not thinking you have to impose them on yourself without discussion. It may be that you don’t think it’s important to change paths or shoes: that’s perfectly fine. In the end you are the one who has to make a decision, just like the first time you ran.
Why it’s good for you: it confirms you in what you basically already know, which is that everything, in the end, depends only on you.