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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!