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The Ultimate Guide To Hacking Running

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Running(Well if you’re a beginner like me and want to start running!)
So you’ve decided that you want to start running, but can’t quite get started? Well a lot of us is fighting with the motivation in this area. So let me fill you in how I cracked the running code.

“So Rasmus” you might ask… ” is this blog going to turn into some feel good exercise blog?”

Well no… But since Timothy Ferriss also wrote The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Workweek is really about hacking your life – I found it ok to discuss this as well.

But don’t worry, the next post will be back to normal, I promise 🙂

The Story Of My Body

Well to keep it short… My body was not built to lift heavy things. Basically I’m tall and quite thin. I’m 189cm tall and weighing approximately 75kg. Most of the jobs I’ve had, have included me sitting down most of the day infront of a computer. And when I got home, I could also sit infront of the computer.

Now when I work as a consultant some of the year, I pretty much sit down infront of the computer the whole day, and when I don’t have to work but is playing around with my own projects, guess what…. This also includes me working on my computer.

I haven’t really been doing any sports for the last 15 years.

While this might sound like an old man speaking, after I turned 30 I could really begin feeling my body taking a downhill turn. I could feel my back after a long day, my energy level was really low when I got home in the afternoon, and other such sympthoms.

Sidetrack: If you want to see my body in action, you can get a glimpse here where I show it of while we’re in our second home in Thailand.

Before we got our little princess, my girlfriend liked spending time at the gym, so it was an easy fit to just tag along with her. But I’m however not quite “gym material”. Besides the time it takes getting there, I’m really not into the whole sweating on machines (with ridicoulous low weight on) while looking at (searching for?) my muscles in a big mirror.

So I was self aware enough to know that if I bought a gym membership, I would probably only go once and curse myself for paying for something I didn’t use. But the problems were still there and I knew that I needed to find some kind of exercise form that I would stick with.

In the end however, I also knew that the most important thing was not starting exercising. It would be to start a habit.

Creating a new habit

Here’s the secret! If you want to start exercise for whatever reason (loose weight, get more energy, enjoy nature) and assume that you have a hard time motivating yourself? Forget about the exercise to start with. Focus on getting a habit first….

Allow me to explain…

When I had to start running, my first success criteria was to get on my running clothes, my running shoes, starting the music and then run a quick trip around the neighborhood. Basically I only ran something like 800 meters the first many times.

The problem is that if I focused on running, I would probably have done it a few times while I had the motivation, but as the initial motivation for starting running is replaced with procrastination, rainy and cold days etc. And soon you run less and less until you would just stop it all together.

So most references I’ve found basically says that it will take you 21 days to start a habit, so therefore I focused on the habit before actually focusing on the running.

So did I feel pathetic running less than 1 kilometer? Sure I did. Did I proudly tell everyone that I’ve started running? Absolutely not. I wanted to have a success with the habit first, then I could start running “for real” and then I could go and tell everybody who again would keep me accountable!

So how do you start a habit? Here’s another well kept secret. You stick it next to another existing habit!

For me my mornings are almost on autopilot, I get up, go to the toilet (“argh Rasmus… too much information….”), brush my teeth, shower, put on contactlenses, put on deodorant, put on clothes, return to the bathroom to use wast amounts of wax on my hair and put on some facial cream. And I’m ready (I really should move on to breakfast, but I currently don’t have a steady breakfast routine).

All of this happens almost with my brain need to step in and do anything other than controlling my feet and arms (some people might say that’s all my brain do all day :)).

So I decided to start the morning with running before my morning ritual, and it worked like a charm. I started out running three times a week. In the perfect world I should really do it everyday in order to get into the habit, but I didn’t want to stress my body (as mentioned earlier I really hadn’t done anything for years) and I wanted a habit that I could follow also when I started adding distance.

After a year, I steadily ran approximately three kilometers three times a week. Not much, but it was steady (I wasn’t proud of the distance, but I also wanted to have a success just getting out running, so I was not so concerned with the distance).

Then two things happened that made me break from running 1) I had a little baby princess and 2) we had a really cold and snow filled winter here in Denmark.

So I stopped running again. Good news is that I’ve started again, and this time I surprisingly started out running six kilometers with each trip. 100% improvement even though I’d had a years break and I was only used to running three kilometers.

How I increased my distance with 100%

Notice I have absolutely no proof that what I’m saying is true. This is just what happened for me and what I think happened. If you want to start running, you could try the following method to increase your distance/stamina.

Thank you Tim

After reading Timothy Ferriss’ second book, The 4-Hour Body, I basically fell into the whole “Occam’s Protocol” and basically thinking more 80/20 about your exercise (the minimal things to do to get the maximum benefit).

So while I don’t want to eat like a horse (like Tim suggests) and I did start doing push-ups three times each week. As a tall thin guy I could certainly use a little form in the upper body area, so I thought “why not try it”. And I had basically been doing this for a month or two when I took up running again.

And guess what. The first time I was out running I felt great. Normally it was my lungs quitting on me and I always felt terrible wuite quickly, so I just extended the course as I was running. And this one day – hadn’t run for a year and back then only three kilometers – I ran just about six kilometers.

So… If you want to get more stamina (that you can use with your running plans), try doing pushups a couple of times each week. I cannot be sure that this was what did it, but it was the only thing I’ve changed since then.

When I do the pushups, I’m basically doing as many as I can three times (three times a week). I won’t bore you with the low number of pushups I can do 🙂

One Last Super Tip

You’re probably listening to music when running, but if you don’t you really should try it. Specially something with lot’s of energy. There are several research papers out that says it’s a really good idea 🙂

Just Do It

So that’s it, just do it. Don’t wait for better weather, better timing… Timing is never right, just put on your running shoes and go outside for a couple of minutes. Get the habit first, then extend the distance. And try as many pushups you can master a couple of times per week to gain stamina that can be used running.

Happy running… 😀

Photo by ccarlstead

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4 Responses to The Ultimate Guide To Hacking Running

  1. David says:

    Hey Rasmus

    Didn’t know you like running too 🙂 I am absolutely crazy about it, especially trail/mountain running. There’s not much that’s better than spending your Sunday morning running somewhere between 20 und 40+k on the mountain 😀

    Regards from Greece,

    • Rasmus says:

      Well I’m not quite at the 20-40km mark just yet 🙂

      My current goal is 10km and I’m typically running 5-7km. Also I have a bad knee so I’m careful not pressing myself too much

  2. Athul says:

    i’m also trying to buildup the habbit of running, thanks for the tips. Haven’t yet tryied listening song while running yet !

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