How to keep your running motivation consistent
30 May, 2019 • by Emma Spearing • Running • Tips
Running motivation can come in different forms when the finish line isn’t in sight–new running shoes, a new training plan, or even joining a running club.
We hit walls. Life can seem to get in the way of running–so having a playbook of motivational techniques is important for runners at every level who are fighting the same battle to log miles. Motivation is the human desire to do something; unlocking that desire may be even more difficult than the task itself.
It’s your job to decide whether you let the mind win, and you back down and let off the gas or if you will enact self-determination to reach your desired level of success. Try following tips to keep a very consistent running motivation:
Get Social While Holding Yourself Accountable
Incorporating a training partner into your new life as a runner has layered benefits. Finding a running partner will provide an immediate desire to run, even if simply knowing that person is counting on you.
Executing on a training program together, with a shared goal, can increase the level of accountability. Joining a running club or finding a running partner removes the element of choice, the ability to reason with yourself and find ways not to run. Excuses are ever-present, and a good running partner won’t take “no” for an answer.
Even though running is an individual pursuit, clubs and teams are everywhere. Besides the motivational aspect, things like networking and safety and developing a sense of community are all extended benefits of making running social.
Finding the Best Training Plan for You
Many of the plans found on the web are too hard for most people, and don’t take into account the many variables that impact training, such as your training history, ability to progress, current fitness level, other lifestyle stress, training load tolerance or injury history.
What generally happens is that runners try to follow a plan to the letter, then they either get injured/find it’s totally unrealistic/or get overtrained or sick. The training plan (and self confidence) eventually ends up in the trash when reality kicks in. The intention is great, but you have to make it realistic for you, your life and your goals.
To be effective, a plan has to be realistic, work for your schedule and be progressive but safe. Better to do a little less running, and more neuromuscular fitness training, but with more consistency and frequency to improve your pace.
Make a lot of Variations to Upset the Boredom
Break up your running with a variety of sessions. Add some interval sessions to your steady running sessions, and don't forget to include some recovery runs. Whatever you usually do in your training, try something different.
Some runners never deviate from the same old running routes or the same old events. Why not throw some variety in and have a go at something like a duathlon, triathlon or even quadrathon event
Many of us run the same routes and in the same direction every time. A simple solution to put an end to your boredom is to run your routes in reverse. You’ll cover the same distances but the runs will seem completely different because you’re approaching them from a different direction.
Do you always run the same routes week after week? If so, then it's likely that you are very bored with them, so it's time for a change. Plan some new routes and venture into a few different areas. A change of scene and location will add new interest to your training.
Improve Your Mental Toughness
You can’t fake mental toughness. It’s just not something that magically happens or you can somehow conjure up at mile 20 of a marathon. You have to “dig deep” to find a reserve of mental strength when the road gets tough during a race without working on this skill during training.
But mental toughness is a skill set, and execution without practice rarely—if ever—works. Practicing this skill must be incorporated into your training cycle in order for you to access it when it really counts on race day.
The notion of mental toughness is not well-defined or understood, but being mentally tough is all about how we respond when we begin to feel uncomfortable or encounter an obstacle or challenge.
Train purposefully in unpleasant conditions. Crummy weather provides an ideal test for mental toughness. So does running during a time of day in which you are not used to training. Vary the times you train and intentionally pick a few sessions that will alter your usual schedule to be purposefully uncomfortable.
Reward Yourself Accordingly and Consistently
Early in my running career I discovered the power of a reward after exercise. During the most difficult workouts, I would promise myself a big bowl of ice cream. I never got tired of this reward and believed that I would not have finished many of the tougher workouts without my "carrot on a stick".
The ideal reward is often not a food. You need a satisfying experience afterward--one that can motivate you to start and finish challenging workouts. It's even better if the reward actually helps you recover faster.
A massage can also reward you with blood flow, as it relaxes the body and invigorates the muscles. On numerous runs, during the last year, the only thing that pushed my motivation button, was the thought of my massage chair waiting for me.
Rewards should be given based on how often you followed through with your plans to be healthier.
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