A lot of people think of routine as a bad thing. You’re stuck in a rut. You need to shake things up. Add some excitement to your life.
Is there a positive side of routine?
Why routine is a good thing
Routine settles us and helps us calm our nerves. It lets us focus on a big upcoming task. It lets us save the energy we would otherwise use figuring out what to do next. We can just perform on autopilot.
Can you think of a time when all of those things matter?
I’m thinking of the biggest day most of us have on our running calendars: race day.
To a lesser extent, though, it can help us on every day of training. If you don’t need to think about when to run or what to do in order to get ready, that’s one less thing you need to plan and spend energy on. It’s one less thing to get in the way of getting that run done.
How to establish a routine
To get the benefits mentioned above, we need to think about the pre-run routine. There are a few things to think about in this regard:
1) When to run: If you have a regularly scheduled time for your run, that’s one less decision you need to make. It just becomes automatic.
Personally, I do this mostly on work days. Whenever I hit a good stopping point after 11:00, usually around 11:05-11:10, I get up from my desk and head out to run. It’s such a well known routine that I do it sometimes without even thinking. I just grab my gear and go. Being in a workplace, it’s also important because my coworkers know when I’m going to leave for my run.
I’m flexible with my timing. If a meeting is in the way or a discussion goes long, I’ll go at a different time. But these situations are rare. The routine is regularly kept and the times when I have to spend energy figuring out how to fit my run into the day are rare.
What to do before starting to run: I used to just walk out and run. As I get older, I find some kind of pre-run warmup leads to a better run. So what do I do with that pre-run warmup? The same thing every day, whether easy run, long run, workout, or race.
Personally, I do a set of walking lunges followed by a couple dynamic mobility exercises for the hips. Then I feel ready to go. The details of the pre-run routine matter less, though, than the fact that there is a routine. Find what you need and do it before every run.
How to warm up: Beyond what you do before you start running, if you have a routine for what to do before you start your workout or race, that will help you get in the right place mentally and calm your nerves. It will give you some sense of familiarity.
Ideally, this would be the same for workout days and race days. However, I personally have gone away from that as I have given myself less time for my workouts. However, I do keep a routine for each. Again, the details don’t matter as much as the fact that you have something familiar that you know will have you ready to go when the time is right.
Is there anything else that you’ve built a routine around? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.