5 Ways to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard!)

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5 Ways to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard!)

This post is sponsored by Lunchbox.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I only write about products I believe in.  Thank you for supporting Running in a Skirt. 

Get a jump-start on fitness this Spring!  This is all about How to Make Running a Habit.

How to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard...)

Hello! Hello!

I started my running career (and I use that term very loosely, haha) in spring, so I get kind of sentimental about running this time of year.  I ran my first 5K in late March almost exactly seven years ago.  I never could have imaged at that time what a big roll running would play in my life.  One marathon, three half marathons, two 15k’s, one 10K and countless 5K’s later, it’s safe to say I’m hooked.

The funny thing is, I only started to run because some of my friends were going to a race out-of-town and I wanted to go with them.  I wasn’t really into the idea of actually running AT ALL.  I just wanted to go on the trip (big surprise, huh?)  At first, I was just going to go with them and walk the race, but then my competitive nature got the best of me and I thought I’d just try to run.

My first runs were ugly.

I literally could not run a quarter of a mile without stopping.  I slowly pushed through, built endurance and eventually added miles to my routine.  Years later running is an integral part of my life and I routinely run three days a week like clockwork.  My story is evidence that sometimes it’s good to push out of your comfort zone, even if it doesn’t seem like something you want to do.

I’m not going to pretend like it was all easy though, running can be very hard and it is even harder to start a new habit.  Finding that routine takes time and dedication.

These are some of my ideas on how to make running a habit.

How to Make Running a Habit

1. Don’t Run Everyday

This tip might sound counter-intuitive to starting a new habit, but don’t run every day.  That is the easiest way to get hurt and get burnt out very quickly.

How to Make Running a Habit-63-3-2

Pick three days a week (not back to back) you want to run and make those your run days.  Write them down in your planner like a meeting.  Set yourself up for success by starting off slow and only covering a few miles in the beginning.  It’s important to slowly build mileage and speed with running so you don’t get hurt.

After a month of your three-a-week running plan, I bet you’ll be looking forward to your miles.

2. Work on Correct Breathing

For me the hardest thing about starting to run was not the strength in my legs, but the weakness in my lungs.  I could not catch my breath.  Having asthma didn’t help.

To overcome this, start out running slowly without a headset and practice breathing in through your diaphragm for several long counts and back out even longer.  Experiment and find a rhythm that works at a slow speed focusing on deep breaths.  Once you get the hang of it, increase your speed and distance.

If you can build up to running without constantly feeling winded, you are more likely to stick with it.

3. Keep a Gym Bag Packed

This is a big one!  The best way to start a running habit is to get used to having your running stuff with you.  If you are running on the way to or from work, it’s important to have a packed running bag.  Not having your shoes should never be an excuse!

How to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard...)

Keep a gym bagged packed with socks, running shoes, several running outfits and dry spray from CVS.

I love the Dove Dry Spray and Degree Dry Spray, although it comes in a version for you guys too!  With 48-hour protection that goes on instantly dry, dry sprays are a runners best friend.  I can count on it during an intense running session, feeling as fresh and clean as you can after a long sweaty workout.

How to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard...)

The Dove Dry Spray has all the care of Dove in an instantly dry antiperspirants spray.

How to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard...)

The Degree Dry Spray with Motionsense® is perfect for runners because it keeps you fresher with every move.

How to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard...)

4. Reward Yourself with New Gear

New running gear and shoes may be just the inspiration you need!  I highly recommend going to a running store and getting fitted for good running shoes before you start and picking out at least one wearable moisture-wicking outfit.

After that, make the rest of the gear a prize to yourself!  Reward yourself with new gear after a solid week or month of running and any additional important milestones.

Make it to your first 5K? Well that absolutely deserves a new outfit!

How to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard...)

5. Smile

Bear with me for this one guys, but this one is pretty simple.

Don’t forget to smile.  Even if it hurts, you can’t breathe and you have no idea why you are continuing just smile through it.  This goes along with my fake it until you make it motto.  Literally smile through your run even if you don’t feel like it.  Notice other runners and wave or listen to nature surrounding you and smile.  It’s the easiest way to send positive vibes to the rest of your body.

Eventually your legs and lungs will catch up to the program and you love your new running routine!

How to Make Running a Habit-24-1-2

And whether you are a newbie or advanced, don’t forget to #TRYDRY for your first or next run.

How to Make Running a Habit (Even when it feels really hard...)

Be sure to visit CVS.com/TryDry for product benefits and educational videos.

CVS Dry Spray 2

And finally, If you stop into a CVS through this Saturday,  you can try one out for yourself and get rewarded. You’ll get $5 ExtraBucks Rewards when you spend $20 on participating AXE, Degree or Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirants. Score!

(Offer valid WITH CARD 3/20/16 – 3/26/16. Extrabucks® Rewards offer limit of 1 per household WITH CARD)

CVS Dry Spray

Thanks for stopping by today!  Come back tomorrow for a carrot side dish perfect for Easter dinner.

I’m linking this post with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday & Inspired to be Fit, Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday,  Coaches Corner, and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Your turn!

Don’t forget to head to CVS.com and let me know which Dry Spray you’d like to #TryDry.

Newbie runners– what is your biggest challenge to starting a running routine?

Advanced runners– any additional tips for the newbies?  Help them out and spread the running love.


  1. […] 5 Ways To Make Running a Habit – Running In A Skirt […]

  2. Brittany April 21, 2016 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Farrah March 27, 2016 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    I really need to get a gym bag to keep in my car again (I’ve been driving my parents’ car around since I’ve been back in CA). Great tips, and hooray for new gear! 😛

  4. jill conyers March 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    All great tips Julie. I wish I would have had this list when I started running. Too many lessons learned the hard way 🙂

  5. Psychic Nest March 25, 2016 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Usually, when we start a new project we get excited and want to dedicate on it. Well at least many of us and I have to admit that I am one of those people. I love running but somehow I failed and I am sure it has to do with your first advice. I overdid it by trying to run every day. Thank you for this helpful post!


    • JulieWunder March 26, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Thanks Zaria! I think it’s so easy to get hurt and defeated if you run everyday. Hope you give it another chance.

  6. Rachel March 24, 2016 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    I totally did not like running when I started either. Haha. I was a hot mess. Thanks for linking up!

  7. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine March 24, 2016 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Great tips! I definitely think it helps to be organized and have your running clothes ready to go ahead of time!

  8. Samantha @ What's Up, USANA? March 24, 2016 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Great tips!

  9. Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs March 24, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

    New gear is one of the best reasons to keep running. 🙂 Thanks for linking up!

  10. [email protected] March 24, 2016 at 7:20 am - Reply

    I love running. But I didn’t properly take it up until about 7 years ago either.

    After years of climbing the Scottish mountains, I was beginning to feel a bit of pain in one of my knee joints.It was suggested that some more gentle exercise might help that.

    It did, After about a year of feeling a bit of knee pain, whilst running, it disappeared. And to this day (touch wood) it seems to have gone. That, makes me all the more determined to NOT give up running though. In case it comes back!

    Great tips here Julie. Thanks! 🙂

    • JulieWunder March 24, 2016 at 10:33 am - Reply

      It’s crazy that running was your “gentle” exercise over climbing. haha! You go! I’m so glad you’ve grown to love it too.

  11. jennifer March 24, 2016 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Great tips for someone just starting out! And, BTW, I am so trying this stuff — I recently bought a deoderant on the “natural living” aisle of my store . . . and, let’s just say, uhhhh… it doesn’t work. In fact, it makes things worse – hahaha

    • JulieWunder March 24, 2016 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Oh no…. haha!!! I’m all about natural but not when it comes to smelling.

  12. Annemarie LeBlanc March 24, 2016 at 1:09 am - Reply

    When I was a teenager, my mom and dad would take us to join fun runs and it was a great time for us. I guess when I started a family I totally stopped. Now that the kids are grown, I guess its never too late to start again. Let me check with my doctor first. Thanks for the motivation!

    • JulieWunder March 24, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Never too late! and Yes, always talk with a doctor!

  13. Sonali- The Foodie Physician March 24, 2016 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Great tips! I especially like the one about rewarding yourself with new gear. It’s nice motivation to keep going with a fitness routine!

    • JulieWunder March 24, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Thanks Sonali! I totally agree! Cute stuff is a big motivator for me.

  14. Alisa @ Go Dairy Free March 23, 2016 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    Such a good idea to have gear always ready to go. That really is a motivator. Since I work from home, I often just wear my workout gear as a cue that I’m definitely hitting the gym that day 🙂

    • JulieWunder March 24, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

      I work from home too, so I feel ya! The gym gear that just stays on…. 🙂

  15. Liz Mays March 23, 2016 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    You work up quite a sweat when you run so a good deodorant is important! You’ve come a long way since that first short run!

  16. Autumn @AutumnPTW March 23, 2016 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Great tips! Ive never done a marathon, only funruns, 4 milers or 5ks. If I did do a marathon, Im sure my first problem would be breathing correclty. Finding a good breathing technique is a tough one. I almost do better when I dont think about breathing at all, just let my body get a natural rhythm.

    • JulieWunder March 24, 2016 at 10:30 am - Reply

      That works great too! It seems like everyone has to conquer the breathing correctly hurdle when they start running and everyone’s body is different!

  17. Neely March 23, 2016 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Dove dry spray is life changing. I love it!

  18. it is so important to take break and not get burnt out. my boyfriend looks forward to runs when there is brunch or something involved at the end.

  19. Christina Bauer March 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Love these tips! I began running just over a year ago, and while it’s still not easy, i do look forward to my runs. Currently training for my 2md half marathon and I love it. An extra tip: pay attention to your body to know what to eat before and after. Fuel is ridiculously important to performance and recovery and can easily derail you if you go down the unhealthy path.

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      Such a good tip to add! Especially when running longer, fueling is critical! I hope your half goes well.

  20. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets March 23, 2016 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    These are great tips! I know some people who start out running and think they have to do it every day or go really fast…it’s all about being patient and learning how your body reacts.

  21. [email protected] March 23, 2016 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I would say keeping my gym bag packed is a big one for me. On those days when the opportunity for a run or even a walk plays out, it is good to be able to have everything I need. Great tips!

  22. [email protected] March 23, 2016 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Great post!! I love that you included NOT running everyday! I think that’s a very common mistake that leads to injuries AND burnout.

  23. Nicole @ Fitful Focus March 23, 2016 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Great tips! I used to HATE running, but I needed an inexpensive way to get fit and running was it. The more I ran, the more I started to love it! I think it’s amazing to see how much your body can achieve!
    I’ve actually never tried a dry spray deodorant – do you like it better than the solid bar kind?

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      I was a little worried it would be weird or wouldn’t work… but it feels light, has no residue and works great! I really like it.
      I hated running at first too 🙂

  24. Jenn - a traveling Wife March 23, 2016 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Breathing is not only important to make running enjoyable, but to also make it successful. I love these tips.

  25. [email protected] March 23, 2016 at 10:15 am - Reply

    I remember my first half saying I’d never do that again. Well 13 halfs down and 11 fulls and still going strong. I have also learned alot thru my running journey. I think back and wonder why I did or didn’t do those things back then. Guess I didn’t know any better. I have never tried spray deodorant. I need to bc some sticks leave a residue. I think the spray would solve this problem.

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      Yes! They leave no residue. I’ve been wearing them with no issues.
      It is crazy how running sucks you in too.

  26. Michelle @ Lively Chicken March 23, 2016 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Great tips! Definitely agree that beginners should not try to run everyday. And I don’t think beginners need to set distance goals either. Just do what you can on that day and don’t worry too much about it. The nice thing about running is that it gets easier pretty quickly. A little perseverance to start and soon you’ll be running with ease!

  27. Annmarie March 23, 2016 at 9:06 am - Reply

    The key for me is definitely NOT running every day! When I do, I tend to get worn out and then every run feels like a hard run which makes it hard to stay motivated! Great tips- thanks for linking up and sharing 🙂

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      I totally agree. I always end up hurt that way too. I’m just not an everyday runner. I have to mix it up. Makes me look forward to the runs more too.

  28. Debbie Denny March 23, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    I think scheduling is the biggest proGetting organized is what I need to do.

  29. Jaime March 23, 2016 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Scheduling my running time is always important, otherwise I may skip it just because I can. I can’t wait to get back into running this summer!

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Such a good point! I can’t wait until you can get back to it too!

  30. Staying on a running schedule is key for me~ I love that you included smiling 🙂 And of course rewarding yourself with new running gear is great motivation

  31. Smiling always makes running better!

    I get sentimental with each change of season–I have such good memories associated with every time of year, even the brutal cold of winter. I guess I just love being outside and seeing all the changes and beauty around me.

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      That really is one of the joys of running – getting to see some much of nature and the seasons.

  32. Dan Steadman March 23, 2016 at 8:03 am - Reply

    start small….I know a lot of people who started out with aspirations of running a marathon in 6 months…slow your roll, it takes time to build up. Set goals for distances and races, this will make it easier….have a friend you can tell and encourage you along, friends make it easier. And rest is not a dirty 4 letter word…take two days a week, more if you are sick or hurt,

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Such a good tip! I cringe when people sign up for something huge without even tackling a 5K first. Good advice on rest too.

  33. valmg @ Mom Knows It All March 23, 2016 at 7:28 am - Reply

    I’ve never heard of Dove Dry Spray before. Their products always smell great, I bet the citrus does too.

  34. Maureen Campaiola March 23, 2016 at 7:28 am - Reply

    I used to run when I was younger. Not so much anymore but I like the suggestions.

  35. Monica Maloney Heidler March 23, 2016 at 7:16 am - Reply

    Exercise is such an important to our health, but like everything if we don’t make it fun, accessible and enjoyable it becomes a chore. This is a great article for me because I tend to overdo it and run every day. Love the reward and the smile!!!!

  36. Robin Masshole mommy March 23, 2016 at 6:50 am - Reply

    I’ve tried it, but running just isn’t for me. I think it’s one of those things that you either love it or you hate it. There is no middle ground.

  37. Susie @ SuzLyfe March 23, 2016 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Love that you included “smile”–it’s true, if you smile, you are much more likely to have a genuine smile on your face in the not to distant future!

    • JulieWunder March 23, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks! I know it was kind of an out there idea– but I swear it works.

  38. Blane Sherer March 23, 2016 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Nice inspirational message today Julie ( smile )

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