Habit pairing for workouts
Though I’ve run all of 2022, my routine has been inconsistent and complicated. From January to March, I ran 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, since I was training for a 5K. But after the 5K, I started running for an hour, 3 days a week — the same mileage but less often. I kept that up until mid-May, when I got demotivated by summer busyness and heat and started running just twice a week for 30 minutes.
Now I’m running 6 days a week consistently, which is the most I’ve ever run, and it’s been easy to get myself to do it. How? Habit pairing, a concept from a book called Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. With habit pairing, you take a habit you already do and follow it with a new habit you’d like to form.
I was taking Kanna on her daily morning walk, dripping sweat, thinking about how I’d have to shower right after just to shower again after my lunch run, which was getting harder to do in 100-degree, Texas weather. That’s when I realized I should pair my run with my daily, morning dog walk, since it’s non-negotiable. (My dog has diabetes, so she’s on a strict feeding-insulin-walk schedule, so I have no choice but to get up every morning to do her routine, which ends with me sweating buckets on her walk, so I may as well work out before I shower.)
So I started getting up 20 minutes earlier, so I could fit in a 20-minute run and shower before work. Now I’m running every day, (except the one day a week my schedule is different, which is good, since runners are supposed to rest one day a week to avoid overtraining).
So six mornings a week, I’m on autopilot. I get up and instantly put on my workout clothes, then I do my dog’s complicated diabetes routine, and then I run the short loop of the walking trail in our neighborhood and shower.
I haven’t opted out of the run since I started this three weeks ago. If you’ve read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, you know the key to building a lasting habit is the habit loop: trigger>habit>reward. Well, my trigger is putting on my workout clothes first thing, my habit is running and my reward is not working out the whole rest of the day or running in 100 degrees, which is enough motivation for me.