The Magic of Always Showing Up for Runners

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Eighty percent of success is showing up.’ Woody Allen, American Writer, Director & Actor

Have you ever had the best of intentions to run, getting a decent workout in, but just don’t feel like showing up? Maybe you’re tired, it’s raining, you want to lie in, or you just don’t feel like running.

These are all reasons people use for bailing out of their run on a regular basis. Dare I say it, I was guilty of using some of these reasons to not run in the past.

However, I have changed my ways and am currently on a 157 daily running streak. Every day, I have run at least 1 mile with a daily average of 5 miles. I have become a much better runner and have broken all my personal bests. What do I attribute these improvements to? The magic of showing up.

What does it mean to always show up as a runner?

Always showing up as a runner means you stick to your workout regime religiously. No excuses, no ifs, not buts.

If you have a marathon training plan which says you’re going to run 30 miles in one week, running on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, that’s exactly what you are going to do.

Always showing up is about making a commitment to running plan to follow through and put the work in. Whatever it takes, regardless of internal factors (like mood and tiredness) or external factors (like weather).

Don’t wait for inspiration, just show up and start running

Inspiration is for amateurs… the rest of us just show up and get to work.’ Chuck Close, legendary artist

You cannot simply wait to be inspired to run. Not only is there no guarantee the inspiration will come, but this means you are unable to build consistency in your running regime and will find it near impossible to make progress.

Think of Olympic champion runners like Kelly Holmes, Mo Farah and Sebastian Coe. Do you think they only ran whenever they felt like it? Did they wait for inspiration before slipping on their running shoes? Absolutely not!

Olympic champions are high performance athletes. who achieve huge success, because they understand the magic of showing up. You can bet your bottom dollar that that Olympic athletes religiously follow their training regime, no matter what.

Applying the magic of showing up in your own running life

To stay on the map, you’ve got to keep showing up.’ Peter Gallagher

If you want to supercharge your running and become faster, stronger and capable of beating personal bests, you need to learn the magic of always showing up.

Of course, this is easier said than done. It can be hard to break bad habits of skipping out on your run and opting for an easier option. However, it is not impossible to learn the magic of always showing up in your running life. Why do I know this? Because I had to learn it myself, the hard way!

I used to be horrendous at showing up for running. I’d procrastinate with Netflix, reading books and scrolling through social media. Whenever I ran, my times got worse and I knew something needed to change. I developed a few strategies to make sure I always showed up to my planned running workouts, no matter what.

Strategies for always showing up for running


1. Create a written contract with yourself

‘I promise to always show up to run. I will not skip a workout because I know there are great rewards for those who always show up.’ and so on…

You might think this sounds a little strange, but this strategy for showing up is powerful beyond belief.

Write a few paragraphs stating that you always show up, in accordance with your running plan, and will give everything you have. Have as much fun with this as you want.

The simple act of creating a written contract with yourself has an unbelievably powerful psychological effect. It’s a good idea to only write about two paragraphs at most, sign the contract and then stick it up where you will see it every day.

For example, I have mine by my calendar in my bedroom. I see it every day and am constantly reminded that I made an agreement with myself to always show up to running.

Having a contract is fabulous for keeping yourself accountable. At the end of each day, you will need to be honest with yourself by looking at the contract and thinking about whether you have lived up to its contents or not.

If you want to make sure you show up to running every day, create a written contract with yourself.

2. Visually track your progress

Visually tracking progress can keep you motivated to always show up

Possibly my most powerful method for always showing up to run is visually tracking my progress.

One of the main reasons people don’t show up is because they don’t realise how much progress they have already made.

They might think ‘what’s the harm of missing one run? It’s not like I’m an elite runner or anything. I’m average, at best.’ Such thoughts lead to a skipped workout, then another skipped workout and so on. Eventually any progress that has been gained slips away and the runner is left self-fulling their prophecy. Not ideal.

Instead, use visual tracking to encourage you to always show up. A fantastic method you can use to visually track progress is to mark a black X or coloured sticker on a wall calendar for each run you successfully complete.

You might think the simple act of marking a run as complete on a wall calendar won’t be effective, but you’d be surprised. When a few marks are added, a quick glance at the calendar informs you of how many runs you have already done that month.

9 times out of 10 you will be surprised at how much progress you have already made. Suddenly, you won’t want to leave a blank space on the calendar and will be more motivated to show up for your run.

Visually tracking your progress will motivate you to showing up, every single time you plan to, and it’s a brilliant way to build a durable running habit. Give it a try.

3. Have a powerful ‘why’

What does success look like to you? What’s your why? Is it weight loss, more energy, being fitter, feeling happier, meeting new people, being outside more?

Perhaps the most important way to always show up for running is to have a powerful ‘why’. Exactly what is the main reason you want to run for, in the first place?

Do you want to win Olympic gold or lose weight? Are you motivated to have more energy or feel happier? Is it because you want to meet new people or discover new places?

Whatever the case, the most important thing is that you have a powerful reason ‘why’ and know exactly what it is. Think about your reason, write it down, study it and imprint it in your mind.

The key is to associate lots of pleasure which achieving your reason ‘why’ and lots of pain with not achieving it.

For instance, the reward of being a healthy weight if your obese can be made more pleasurable because you will be healthier and fitter to enjoy life with family members much easier. The pain associated with not showing up for running can be linked to something extreme and morbid, like the thought of obesity cutting your life short and your children growing up without you.

This sounds extreme but the one of the best ways to motivate you to always show up for running is having a powerful reason ‘why’.

Knowing your reason ‘why’ will motivate you to keep running through any difficult patches, challenges and obstacles which get in your way.

If it rains on a cold winter morning, you won’t think twice about skipping out on your run. When you’re tired and can’t be bothered, you’ll be motivated to run anyway because of the perceived pleasure of your reason ‘why’.

It may seem cliché, but having a powerful reason why truly is one of the most powerful methods for always showing up for running. Use it and you won’t skip a running workout again. You will always show up for running.

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