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4 ways to be a more consistent runner (according to science)

Accountability is a game changer, and it can be more fun than you think

urban runners

For runners, motivation can be the game-changer between smashing personal bests and falling short. But what exactly fuels our drive when the going gets tough? According to The New York Times, it often comes down to external factors—like a supportive friend, a motivating app or a commitment made to someone else.

Recent research underscores the power of a workout buddy in boosting motivation, especially for those struggling to stay consistent. Whether teaming up with a friend already crushing their fitness goals or mentoring a newcomer, accountability is key. Ready to stay on track with your consistency goals? Here are some snappy strategies to keep you going strong.

friends running

Signing up can help (but keep it secret)

For those who thrive on structure, signing up for a race or athletic event can provide the necessary framework to stay on track. However, it’s wise to keep these ambitions close to the chest until you’re well on your way to the finish line. Research suggests that sharing your goals prematurely, particularly on social media, might trick your brain into feeling accomplished without putting in the effort.

Legs and shoes of four young adults running in forest

Excel with accountability

Personal trainers or fitness instructors can also serve as powerful sources of accountability. By committing to attending a scheduled class or session, you’re not just investing in your health but also avoiding the discomfort of flaking out.

Denver-based clinical psychologist Justin Ross specializes in athlete mental health and performance, and says when he coaches newer athletes he experiences the benefit of accountability firsthand: “I’ve got to show up, not just for me but for them as well,” he said.

middle-aged men running

Paper clips for the win

For individuals who respond well to visual cues, creating a tangible representation of progress—such as a paper-clip chain or rubber band ball—can provide the necessary motivation on those days when motivation is lacking. “On days when you’re really not feeling it,” Ross told The New York Times, these visual reminders “can help provide a little bit of that energy to get you started.”

paper clip chain

Money motivates

For those seeking an extra push, some apps offer monetary rewards for meeting fitness goals, turning exercise into a profitable endeavour. By tracking metrics like time or distance through your wearable fitness device, apps like Charity Miles make charitable donations in your name; others offer discounts.

Finding what works for you might require some trial and error. Whether it is finding the right workout partner, setting achievable goals or leveraging external incentives, staying accountable can be the key to unlocking your fitness potential.

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