Do you want a running routine that feels effortless and with minimal work, like you just glide through it? In this blog post, I’ll explain how to systemize your running routine by sharing tips and tricks from my own.
What is systemizing?
Systemizing is all about making something easier. It’s all about removing resistance and obstacles in the way of accomplishing something.
A system is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done, an organized scheme or method. Setting up and using systems can help you carry out tasks in a more strategic way.
What does it mean to systemize your running routine?
Ever felt like you go about your running in a slightly chaotic, disorganized way? I certainly did a couple of years ago before I created my own system.
Systemizing your running routine means creating a set process for making your running life easier and executing it.
We sometimes think of running as just being the motion of moving one foot in front of the other in rapid succession. However, there’s much more to it than that.
To have a successful and enjoyable workout, many other things need to happen rather than solely the run itself. These activities include:
– Researching and purchasing running gear
– Being motivated to run in the first place
– Choosing and putting on workout clothing
– Eating a pre-run snack
– Choosing an audiobook, playlist, or podcast to listen to during the run
– Planning the route
– Booking places in events like 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons
– Having a post-run shower and getting dressed
– Preparing a post-run meal and rehydrating
With all these supporting activities in addition of the run itself, it’s important to create a system so that they feel as effortless as possible.
Without systemizing your running routine, each of these supporting activities can feel like an obstacle and cause you to resist running altogether.
A running system takes all of these miscellaneous activities and organizes them into a set process to be followed. Having a set process to be followed adds a strategic dimension to your running life and takes all of the randomness out of the equation.
Why should you systemize your running routine?
A decent running system will ensure your running life is easier and you will be more likely to accomplish your goals. Here’s four key reasons you should systemize your running routine.
1. Reduce daily decision making to focus on more important things
2. Following a system increases the chances of running success
3. Get the boring things out of the way so you can focus on the fun stuff like the running itself
4. Gain back time lost from tackling running routine problems when they arise rather than planning in advance
Every running routine system is different
Below, I will provide you with all the elements that make up my individual running routine. You may like some of my suggestions and you’ll probably say ‘jog on’ to the others. That’s fine. Running systems aren’t a one size fits all affair and I encourage you to personalize yours.
Everyone is different, and different things work for different runners. I encourage you to use some of the suggestions I list below in addition to some of your own to create your own running routine system.
By creating a personal running system that works for you, you’ll be more likely to stick to it and enjoy the benefits of a more automated running life.
Tips for systemizing your running routine
1. Purchase enough running gear to last you three consecutive days
Have you ever been in a position where you have wanted to run but didn’t have enough clean clothes to wear? I have and it’s an absolute nightmare when it happens.
When this used to happen to me, I used to take my still wet sports gear off of the washing line and put it on the radiator in the hope that it’d dry out quickly. This was a huge problem as it meant I lost a lot of time and, with it, motivation for the run itself.
This way, you’ll be absolutely certain to have access to running gear for a run without worry of it being tied up in the washing machine.
For more information on running essentials, check out this blog post.
2. Create a habit of charging your sports watch
Before I got into the habit of charging my sports watch regularly, I’d be mid-run only to find my watch suddenly entering low battery mode before shutting off.
Though I acted surprised when this happened, I knew I wasn’t being organized about charging it regularly. The result of this poor charging discipline was a load of missed data for decent workouts.
Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, create a habit of charging your sports watch. Once a week is usually plenty for most runners but, if you run more often, you may wish to charge it once every four to five days.
3. Choose and set your clothes out the night before
One of the biggest game-changes for me was discovering this simple trick and implementing it into my running routine system.
By choosing and setting your running clothes out the night before, you take away the mental effort required to think about and choose clothes in the moment when they’re required for the run itself.
Though seemingly insignificant, taking away the extra decision of choosing running clothing in the morning adds valuable time to your routine. It also makes it feel incredibly easy to get prepared for the run ahead, making it incredibly more likely you’ll follow through with your workout.
4. Purchase and have easy access to pre-running snacks at least a week in advance
Before going on a run, it’s a wise idea to consume a pre-run snack to get some carbohydrates into the body as fuel.
Rather than having to think about what you’re going to have as a pre-run snack, checking if you have it in your house and going to make it, have it already pre-decided. Buy your running snack of choice for at least one weeks’ worth of runs and have easy access to it when needed.
Bananas, crackers, and pretzels are all good choices. Personally, I like to go for cereal bars as these are inexpensive, come in a variety of flavors, and an easily be stored under my bed for me to quickly grab in the morning.
I don’t have to think about anything in my half-awake state as I’ve already made the decision in advance which makes it so much easier to snack-up, roll out of bed, get my gear on and go.
If you struggle with beating the snooze button in order to go for a run in the morning, check out this post.
5. Create a ‘to listen to’ list of audiobooks and podcasts, and create workout playlists
The consequence of not being organized with my audio content was that I used to spend a good five to ten minutes flicking through various podcasts on Spotify or different titles on Audible. I’d also spend ages thinking about what bands would sound good to run to. Not only did this waste valuable running time, it made me feel a dreaded sense of procrastination.
Now I’ve created a list of audiobooks and podcasts I want to listen to and refer to that whenever I’m in need of some audio content. I have also created three different running playlists with songs suited to working out, covering various moods.
Creating a ‘to listen to list’ of audiobooks and podcasts, and creating several running playlists took twenty-five minutes and has save me untold amounts of time. Now, there’s no obstacle in having audio content to listen to during my run as I have it all decided in advance.
I’d strongly recommend that you follow in my footsteps and create playlists and a ‘to-listen to’ list. It will make your running routine feel much more automated.
6. Plan five running routes and alternate between them
Instead of creating a random running route each time you don your shoes, create five running routes, and alternate between them.
Creating a new running route each workout involves a huge amount of mental effort as you need to be consciously taking literally hundreds of decisions about where you’re going.
Should you go down this side street? Will this road be a dead end? Can I make it home in time for work if I go this way? All energy consuming questions you shouldn’t be concerning yourself with.
Create five running routes in advance that will be suitable for different occasions and alternate between them.
Your five routes should vary in distance, incline intensity, scenery, terrain, and difficulty to match different training needs.
I have a nine-mile endurance building route which is relatively stable terrain and incline wise for when I have a long-distance event coming up. I have another four-mile hill running route which varies in terrain and features some steep inclines which I use a lot for short distance events training.
7. Book running events six months in advance
I believe that in order to become the best runner, you need to make a habit of participating in events.
These are organized occasions whereby runners have a certain distance to cover in as quick as a time as possible. 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons and marathons are all well known examples.
One event per month is a good rate to try to achieve as this is manageable for most and will ensure you have something in the back of your mind to be training for.
Rather than booking a running event one by one, month after month, book six months’ worth of events in one go.
The reason for this is that sitting down to research and book events that suit your goals takes time and effort. Instead of having to find a chunk of uninterrupted time, motivation and focus six times over six months to book a race, get all the bookings out of the way in one sitting.
Not only will you have saved a great deal of time and effort, you’ll also be more motivated to train for the long-term as you’ll know that you have tangible events to train for.
8. Choose and lay your post-run shower clothes out before running
When creating an effective running system, it’s necessary to look at all of the activities related to running as a whole. This means looking at what happens after the run as well as before and during it. After the run, what’s the first thing you do? Hopefully, it’s getting clean with the help of your shower!
By choosing and laying your post-run clothes out before hand, you’ll again experience time savings and a reduction in decision making.
Rather than running to the bedroom in your towel, freezing cold, and trundling around your wardrobe for something to wear, the decision will already be made for you. You’re running routine will feel more frictionless, automated, and easier.
9. Have a post-run meal plan and, where possible, cook in advance
After going for a run, your body will tell you that it needs some food to refuel itself and to repair the muscles.
Rather than going to the trouble of deciding what you should eat after your run, decide in advance with a post-run meal plan.
A meal plan is any strategy used to map out what you’re going to eat at certain times. I recommend making one for at least one week. They don’t have to be a fancy work out art. A simple grid on the fridge with a column for each day and a row for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner will suffice.
Meal plans are great because they mean you do all of the thinking in advance, allowing you to simply follow the plan during the week as if you were on autopilot.
Where possible, cook as many of the post-run meals within the meal plan in advance so they just need reheating to make post-run refuelling feel extra effortless.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and are now excited to systemize your own running routine. Happy running.