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Why being ‘Trigger-Happy’ can make you a better runner.

Consistency is the Key, Without it you cannot realistically expect to reach your full potential!

Ok, the title of this blog post probably isn’t making much sense. So, I’d better explain what I mean by being “Trigger-Happy“.

Whilst consistency is definitely key to achieving improvement. Making sure that you run regularly and consistently is a matter of establishing a solid routine. And the key to establishing a solid routine is to set good “Triggers“. In this context a trigger is something that you do that initiates the desired action or behaviour. To make training a consistent, habitual thing, we should consciously aim to set up triggers to prompt us to get out for a run.

You may not realise it but we all set triggers for ourselves all the time when we establish a routine – no matter how mundane that routine is. With time, the end result is that our routines become a habit and we don’t give them a second thought or challenge them at all. As one action automatically leads to the next. This is what we want to try to achieve with our running/training schedule.

Take my morning routine for example:

  • I get out of bed = trigger to put on my dressing gown (this is especially important when my daughter has her friends over for a sleepover – as I don’t wear PJs!)
  • I go to the kitchen and put the kettle on to make a coffee = trigger for me to start preparing my breakfast
  • I sit down to eat my breakfast/drink coffee = trigger for me to switch on the TV news
  • I finish my breakfast = trigger for me to start my ablutions
  • Ablutions complete and I’m all clean and fresh = trigger for me to get dressed
  • Being fully clothed = trigger for me to go about my day’s planned activities

Whilst this may seem like an inane example, I can assure you that each trigger I’ve noted does prompt me to the next action. The flaw with my example is the fact that I haven’t sat down and deliberated what my triggers are or what my desired next step should be. But that’s exactly what I’m suggesting you do with regards to your running/exercise schedule – especially if you have issues with missing workouts or find yourself making excuses or not having time to go out for a run.

As far as your running is concerned, I have some suggestions for triggers that you could experiment with or adapt to your own specific needs:

  • If you run in the morning. Put your running kit next to the bed. So when you wake up it’s there as a visual prompt/trigger to put it on and get out for a run.
  • If that’s not quite good enough for you – you could try sleeping in your (clean) running kit.
  • If you go running after you get home from work. Put your running kit just inside the front door. So it can trigger you to put it on as soon as you get home.
  • If you go for a run during your lunch break. Put a note in your lunch box. So when you open it – it will trigger you to go running, before you tuck-in.
  • You can also use technology to trigger you too. Set reminders on your phone to beep at the appropriate time.

If you have trouble with running on a consistent basis, have a think about what could be good triggers for you. Then set them up and follow them deliberately for as long as it takes for the routine to become second nature. There are many theories about how long it takes to build such a habit, ranging from 1 to 3 months. So, try to stick with it for at least a month before making any changes.

Best Wishes & Happy Triggers

Coach D

About the Author Coach D

Hi, I'm Dave. I'm a UK Athletics qualified and licensed Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and Endurance Event Group Coach. I coach groups and individuals of all abilities both online and in person.I particularly enjoy coaching beginner and improver runners in the 40+ age range.I'm also a regular recreational runner and I've been competing in races from 5k to marathon distance for over 30 years.

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