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Running Motivation

We manage to get a run in at least 5 days a weeks, even when we’re traveling. Caroline has been running since 1998 and I’ve been at it since 1994. It’s very much a part of who we are. Recently we’ve been asked by several different people: What keeps us lacing up our shoes? It’s a good question and one we ask ourselves frequently. In this post we talk about our top tips and strategies for running motivation.

Prioritize.

If you want to start running more consistently, you’re going to have to plan for it. Try making it a part of your day rather than something that just “happens”. Prioritize it by carving out time for it, just like you would the other things that you deem important in your life: meeting with friends, doing your homework, getting groceries, etc. We love running in the morning so that it doesn’t get away from us. A lot of times it means the alarm goes off in the dark, but not much feels better than completing a run by 6:30am and knowing that if nothing else you achieved that.

Runinng Motivation

It’s okay to prioritize yourself by going for a run.

Get yourself some GREAT gear.

Make an investment in yourself and your health by getting yourself into some great shoes. And socks. And a sports bra, etc. No, we don’t think that the clothes make the runner, but they can certainly make the experience more enjoyable. And if you look and feel good, chances are you’re going to keep coming back for more. We have an entire post about some of our favorite running gear HERE.

Reward yourself.

Don’t have the gear you want? No worries. You don’t have to purchase it all at once. In addition, you can use the allure of new running gear to help motivate you. (We’re big fans of second gear stores as well. Just make sure that if you’re getting second hand shoes they have plenty of cushioning and support left in them.) We all hit slumps in running. When it’s happened to me I start eyeballing shoes that I like but don’t allow myself to purchase them until I log enough miles so that I’ve “earned” them. Sounds cheesy, but I was also able to be motivated by household chores with stickers when I was a kid. If this sounds like you, try this little trick on yourself. Shop online, put things in your “cart” or actually go to a running store and find something that you like. Then set a goal that you can work towards and reward yourself when you make it.

No excuses.

Part of running consistently is playing a little trick with your mind. One that requires you to tell yourself that opting out isn’t actually an option. When you silent the voice that says “It’s too hot, I’m too tired, let’s go later, I need to do the dishes, etc.” then you’re winning the mental game. If no is not an option, you’ll figure out a way to get out there.

Runinng Motivation 3

You can do it!

Sign up for a race.

If the thought of racing sounds really intimidating, we hear that. It can be. But it can also be a ton of fun and a great way to help you get a little more serious about your commitment to running. After all, spending money on a race motivates a lot of people to train. You’ve invested and no one likes seeing money go down the drain. Plus, it might also give you the structure you need to stick to an actual training plan and help you take your running to another level. If you’ve been racing for a while and aren’t feeling the motivation that races used to give you, consider signing up for a different distance or picking a race in a new city. Hawaii anyone?!

Make it social.

We do about half of our runs solo and half of our runs together. In the beginning, running together wasn’t always easy. We’re slightly different paces (Caroline is faster) and have slightly different styles (Caroline likes to run a certain course and used to do the same loop every day. I prefer to never run the same course and make it up as I go along.) Still, we’ve come to really enjoy each other’s company on days when we’re both dragging and are low on energy. Plus, it’s a fun way to explore a new city together. We have a pact that if it’s a day we’re supposed to run and one of us isn’t feeling it, the other will find a way to help get their butt in gear. This has sometimes looked like one of us handing the other their shoes and turning on their GPS lol.

Use music.

Though some say that you should never run with music (heck, we’ve even written a post about why you sometimes need to unplug from devices) every now and then it’s just the thing you need to get you moving. Pick tunes that are upbeat and fun, just be aware of your surroundings and if you don’t feel like you can do that, head for the treadmill.

Change things up.

If you run the same loop every day, think about busting out of your rut. It could be that you’re still very much in love with running but your mentally fatigued at the thought of doing the same course over and over again. If you’re REALLY dragging and have been running different routes, try driving to a really special or unique area: a National Park, a trail close to home, a beach, anything that will help recharge your love of the run.

Runinng Motivation 4

If a run on the beach isn’t a way to break up the monotony of a treadmill we don’t know what is!

Find support.

Tweet, Instagram or facebook about it. Let the people in your life help cheer you on. My parents aren’t runners but they’re some of my biggest champions and when they know I’m training for something, they make a point to ask me about it. Somehow just knowing they would ask me about it kept me accountable and got me out the door for a long run more times than I can count. If you’re training for a big race, or looking to achieve a new running goal, why not tell a couple close friends or family members and see if they don’t help you rally when you just don’t feel up for it.

Keep a log.

Another thing you can do to keep yourself motivated is to keep a journal or a log of your running. I’ve got some log books that go back several years. I used to record distance, heart rate, time, route, weather, how I felt, what I ate, what I saw. I look at them now and wonder how I had the time to jot it all down. Still, when I was really serious about racing they helped keep me honest and allowed me to track my progress which was motivating. Everyone loves to see that they’re improving and of course, blank spots on the page keep you honest about what you’ve been up to. Even if you’re not training for a race, it can be rewarding to look back on a year and add up all your miles.

Remember that it’s easier to maintain than it is to regain.

One of the reasons we consistently find a way to get out the door is that we’ve both gone though periods of not being able to run (mostly due to injury). And climbing back out of that fitness hole can be downright brutal. We’ve learned that it’s easier to maintain fitness than it is to regain it. If you find yourself injured, do what you can to keep moving whether or not that’s a cycling, swimming or even getting on a rower or elliptical. Your body will thank you later when you are able to pick back up.

Runinng Motivation 2

The first step is lacing up your shoes!

Running Motivation Recap

We’ve been running long enough now to know that we always feel better after a run. Every single time. Doesn’t matter how much we don’t want to lace up our shoes, or how much the first mile sucks (and the first mile often sucks!) we always feel better. That takes a while to learn.

Headed to Florida anytime soon? Be sure to check out our post on The Best Places to Run in Florida!

We hope this post helps the new runner out as well as the seasoned marathoner who has been at this for longer than we have. What tips or tricks do you have for staying motivated to run? We’d love to hear about them. Please leave your comments below!

 

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The Best Springs in Florida!

Did you know that Florida is home to some of the coolest places to swim in the country? It has over 1,000 known springs in the state, some of which are just a trickle of water but others which are much, much bigger and provide unique recreation opportunities for both locals and tourists. We snorkeled in each of the springs listed below but keep in mind that if you are into SCUBA diving you can do that at many of them as well. Below are our top picks for the Best Springs in Florida!

Admission to most of the Florida State Parks is $6 per vehicle or $2 for pedestrians and cyclists. If you’ll be visiting a lot, consider getting a Florida State Parks annual pass.

Wakulla Springs State Park | 465 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs

This was the first spring that we visited. We went into it without any expectations other than the lady said the water temperature is about 69 degrees year-round. The spring has some wading and swimming areas and a platform that you can jump off of which was really fun. We learned later on that it’s the deepest spring in the world and that they’ve filmed several movies there. It wasn’t very busy on the day we were there but we’ve heard that in the summer it can get super busy.

Ichetucknee Springs | 12087 SW U.S. Highway 27,
Fort White

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We went in both the head spring and the blue hole. They were both amazing. The head spring is easy to access, it’s literally right off the parking lot. The blue hole isn’t too far either, just about a half mile down a pretty, shaded sandy trail. There’s steps that lead down into both so getting in is no problem. We both got a little freaked out at the Blue Hole because of our fear of alligators but we got in anyway. The water was the most beautiful color and as clear as could be. We swam over the deep part and let the current push us gently back towards the steps several times.

Salt Springs | 8737 US Highway 19 North,
Port Richey

There is a large swimming area at this spring as well as a place for boaters to moor up and hang out. It was crowded on the Saturday in March that we visited, tons of kids and parents. If you’re looking for a chill, quiet spring, this is not it. But it does have a fun sort of anything-goes kind of vibe to it. Lots of people picnicking, radios playing all kinds of music and of course people playing in the water.

Silver Glen Springs | 5271 FL-19, Salt Springs

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This spring is literally like something out of a movie. It’s paradise! You have to walk a short trail to get to it but it’s more than worth it. We went snorkeling and couldn’t get enough of the spot where the water comes pushing out. There’s a force to it that is fun to swim around. We saw some fish, too! The water is really clear at this spring and the visibility is excellent. Oh, it’s also easy to get in and out of thanks to a couple small sandy beaches.

Rainbow Springs State Park | 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon

We visited this spring on a day when it was thundering and lightning and couldn’t get in the water. We did, however, make some time for walking around and wow, the springs here are gorgeous! There’s also a lot of colorful, beautiful plants like the one on the trail above. You can rent canoes and kayaks here at the springs. If you want to go tubing, you can rent those about 9 miles up the road and then float on back! Rainbow Springs is also Florida’s fourth largest spring.

The Best Florida Springs Recap

If you’re looking for some fun in Florida, we highly recommend checking out some of the springs listed above. I’m sure there are some awesome ones that we didn’t list here and we’re eager to get back and explore more of them! Do you have a favorite that we should know about? If so, which one?!

Curious about our snorkel gear? Head on over to our Gear Guide to see what we’re using in the water these days.

Oh and if you liked this, be sure to check out some of our Favorite Trails in Florida!

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How to Pick a Great Campsite

You can’t control the weather, but you do have a good bit of control over your campsite. First off, to be clear, we’re not talking backcountry camping. That’s a whole different category of camping. We’re talking about car camping and camping out of your van. Places where you can pull up and basically unload all of your gear. State parks, National Parks, Hipcamps … you get the deal, right?

In this post we talk about some of the best things you can do to ensure that you have a great experience instead of just a mediocre one. Included are our top tips on how to pick a great campsite.

What are the activities like at your campsite?

Chances are that if you like camping then you also enjoy spending time outside. For many of us, the activities in the area are the reason we’re even camping there. For us, one of our favorite activities is running. We spend several days a week logging miles. (Recently we’ve been in Florida. Read more about our favorite places to run in Florida by clicking here.) When picking a campsite, we give a look at the nearest trails and if they interest us, we book! We’re also really drawn to the water. When trying to pick a great campsite, think about what kinds of activities you’ll have access to. At some campsites you can literally hit the trail just a few feet away from your tent or van. At others, you can fish just feet from where you’re making a fire.

Trail running in Florida

Research and book online.

The internet has really leveled the playing field as far as access to information. Back in the day maybe you would have asked a friend who knew someone who knew someone about a great spot to camp in a particular state. Now, you just have to jump on Google and within seconds you’ve got a ton of information. Use it to your advantage. Many spots are still first-come, first-serve but some of them you can reserve online. We often don’t know ahead of time where we’ll be so more often than not we hope that a space is open but when we do have solid travel plans we almost always try to book ahead. If you’re using Hipcamp, it’s almost a sure bet when you visit a site that’s been previously visited by a Hipcamp Field Scout. There will be a little blue check next to the property as well as some photos that will help give you a sense of the place before you book.

Stay away from highly trafficked areas.

Places like the bathroom, the entrance to the campground, playgrounds, etc. will by default generate a lot of foot and vehicle traffic. Do your best to pick a spot away from these places. Otherwise your vacation might end up feeling more like rush hour and that probably is the last thing you want to experience while camping.

Van down by the water in Florida

Avoid being next to the dumpster.

Make that the dumpster AND dump station. Though it would seem convenient, the last thing you want to experience is the frequent odors of old trash and whatnot. Plus, your chances of running into camp critters goes up when you’re near the trash.

Look for water.

Water really impacts our experience at a campsite. For one, it’s something we’re almost always in search of. If your campsite has water, it’s a surefire way to improve your experience as you’ll be able to refill without much effort. If it’s a primitive campsite, bring jugs and be prepared.

What about electric?

In addition to water, we’re also almost always in search of power. We need it to charge our cameras, laptops and phones. It’s hard to admit but when you’re living out of your van you’re basically jumping from outlet to outlet. If you’re going to be camping for more  than 24 hours, consider putting electric as a priority. If you’re looking to go off the grid for a bit, forget about electric and enjoy your time away from the rest of the world. We can’t always do this because of work obligations but we love it when we can. We actually wrote a post about How to Unplug and Make the Most of Your Adventure.

Does it have a fire pit?

And when you finally turn your devices off and make yourself a drink or crack a beer, you’re going to want to make a fire. At least we do. It’s one of the things we look forward to the most when we’re camping. There’s something relaxing about it – doesn’t matter what time of year it is. In our eyes, the best campsites always have a fire pit or at least allow you to make a fire.

How to make a campfire

Consider the sun.

The sun can be both friend and foe. If it’s wintertime, you probably want to find a place that’s getting a lot of sun. If it’s summertime, lots of trees and shade are probably your best bet. When booking online, get as much information ahead of time. Most campsites have basic maps that will allow you to at least figure out where the sun will rise and set in relation to your spot. If you’re booking in person, do a quick drive-through of the park and see if you can’t find one with optimal sun.

Van life

How to Pick a Great Campsite Recap:

The next time you go to choose a campsite, keep all of the above in mind. In addition, be mindful of holidays, especially three day weekends. Campgrounds are typically super busy on those days and it can be a very “social” experience. This is great if this is what you’re looking for. It can be disastrous if you’re wanting some time in the outdoors. Be sure to book ahead on those weekends and be prepared for lots of people.

Wifi: Some campgrounds have wifi and some do not. If you’re needing a connection, it’s best to check ahead. We carry our own hotspot to avoid being completely dependent on others. To learn more about our hotspot read our piece on Van Life Essential Gear and The Best Van Life Gear Under $50.

What do you think about our post How to Pick a Great Campsite? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear your thoughts as well as some of your top tips for having a great time in the outdoors. Oh and if you liked this, be sure to check out Campsite Do’s and Don’ts.

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