Behavioural ScienceKat Jennings

Six Reasons Why 2CV Loves Advent Running

For our second year 2CV is doing Advent Running. The challenge is simple - to run every day between 1st and 24th December for a minimum of 15 minutes*. It doesn't matter where or when you do it, or whether it's an all out sprint or your first attempts at a walk-jog programme like Couch to 5K. It just matters that you do it every day. It's a good example of a behaviour change challenge for a number of reasons.

 

*Some Advent challenges set this at 30 minutes, or a mile, but we prefer the smaller target of 15 minutes (because we believe in starting small).

Six Reasons Why 2CV Loves Advent Running

1. Repetition

A recent review of what works in healthy behaviour change found one of the keys to success is repetition of the behaviour. The daily nature of the Advent Running challenge gives us plenty of chances to repeat the behaviour.

2. Making it routine

Another key to behaviour change is to repeat the behaviour in a similar context. Advent Running challenges you to explore different times and spaces for running in your day. The every-day nature of the challenge means that once you're 'in' the question is not one of 'should I do this?' but 'when do I fit this in?' It shifts from being a challenge of motivation to one of logistics. Runners find 'easy' contexts for running - piggybacking onto existing habits and routines - a run to the shop, a run to work, even a run to buy the Christmas tree. This is a more effective strategy for building a routine than waiting for the 'empty windows' of time in our day to appear.

3. Starting small

Too often when we decide to adopt a new behaviour we aim big! We feel motivated and inspired, we may fall prey to a wishful thinking bias - where we think our 'new self' will be different in motivation and habits to our old. Or we feel that to make a behaviour worthwhile we need to do it a lot. One of the beauties of advent running is that it is a small part of our day. It's a bite-sized behaviour, not as small as BJ Foggs effective Tiny Habits programme. But 15 minutes is a small and manageable place to start.

4. Creating a window of time

We also respond well to limited time frames - by 'chunking' the process of giving running a regular place in people's lives down to one month, it makes it feel more manageable. Running every day for a month is less intimidating than doing it forever - and once you've made it through the month, you're unlikely to curb your great new habit completely (although, as we know, 24 days isn't long enough to really make or break most habits...)

It gives people a new 'hook' to start healthy new habits in the winter, and recreates 'the January effect' at a time of year when fitness couldn't be further from people's minds.

5. Social benefits

Feeling you belong to a group can be a very positive and enjoyable experience. Advent Running creates multiple social groups for the people taking part to enjoy: the 2CV global group - where we feel connected to others taking part in our offices around the world; 2CV local groups - where we feel bonded in our shared endeavours; and the broader world of 'Advent Runners' -  people taking on the challenge and sharing their experiences on the Advent Running Facebook and Twitter social feeds.

6. Rewarding behaviour

Finally, we get rewards. We use Strava to track runs meaning every run is recognised and logged. The Kudos feature means we get social rewards for our runs - others recognise and celebrate our daily efforts. Additional mini-competitions during the challenge - such as using Strava to create festive art by running in the shape of something festive - a Christmas tree, deer or turkey - or capturing festive photos along the way - keep the challenge interesting and dynamic as we go through.

We start running tomorrow! 

You can also take up the challenge and learn more about Advent Running here: http://www.adventrunning.com