It’s a rainy Saturday morning, and all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and drift back to sleep. The last thing you want to do is wake up earlier than you would for a workday and go for your long run. That diminished sense of motivation might also be what keeps you from the spin class you just can’t drag yourself to, the gym workout, or that 30-mile bike ride you always plan to take but never get around to. Whatever the activity, trust me, no one ever said, “I feel much worse now that I got that run in.” So how can you get on track and then keep yourself motivated, focused and, most of all, excited about your run? Here are some of my favorite tips to help you get it done and stay motivated.
APPRECIATION: I see patients on a daily basis who oftentimes physically cannot run, or worse, they can barely walk. It’s easy for me to realize how lucky I am to be able to run one mile, not to mention the 26.2 miles to complete a marathon. I’m reminded daily that a healthy body, mind, and attitude are a blessing. It’s part of what motivates me to get out and run each day. So, the next time you don’t feel like going out for that 3-mile run, think of the person out there who longs for the day they can walk without crutches or get up from their wheelchair.
SMALL GOALS: Break down your large goal into smaller daily goals. For instance, if you’re training for your first marathon, think about trying to run your last mile of a 5-mile training run faster than the previous four and any mile you have ever run in your entire life! You can also sign up for a shorter distance race during your training and attempt a personal record. For a marathon, you might naturally sign up for a half; if training for a half, you can sign up for a 10 or 5K. Once you start succeeding at some small goals, the motivation to reach your big goal will surge.
DOCUMENTARIES/BOOKS: Get motivated by watching a documentary on an athlete who works harder than anyone else in their sport. This is the one that works especially well for me. In the book 50/50, you follow ultra-runner Dean Karnazes running 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days in 50 states. It’s hard to watch and not realize that you can at least get out there and run your 12 miles. Read the memoirs of some of the greatest runners in the world (Bill Rodgers’ Marathon Man is my particular favorite), and you will feel like taking on the world. Trust me, watching the story about Canadian runner Terry Fox, who was battling cancer and an amputee, running across Canada to raise money for cancer research will completely inspire you. Add to it the fact that he ran with a prosthetic limb in a time way before running blades were invented, and you’ll be motivated for a lifetime.
JOURNAL: Keep a journal of your runs and workouts. Include data on your pace, what you ate, what you wore, what went well, and what didn’t. Even keeping track of the weather and how you coped can be informative down the road to making improvements. This journal will keep you accountable and, quite possibly, help to correct any actions that are deterring you from your goals. Most of all, seeing your hard work over a period of time will keep you motivated!
CHANGE IT UP: Do something different during your training. Never did any trail running? Go out for a trail run. Never tried yoga before? Do it now. Usually do your workouts after your workday? Try an early morning, before-work sweat fest to get you pumped. Always run with a group? Then try going solo. Changing things up will keep your experience fresh and keep you from knowing the predicted outcome. Try the unknown.
GET EXCITED: Last but not least, remember what got you excited to start your journey in the first place. Whatever the answer is, it still lives within you. Whether it’s deep down or just under the surface, it’s there. You just have to dig a little to bring it out.