Sometimes the most difficult part of training, especially during the basebuilding period, is getting out the door to go run. This is true even for experienced highly competitive athletes. Most of them have little motivational "tricks" that work for them. Some of these helps are listed below. Writing down a planned workout schedule is the first place to start. You have then made a date with yourself to complete a series of workouts. Filling out the training diary and being able to check off or fill in the appropriate space often works as a reward. Seeing all those completed workouts certainly encourages you to keep on being able to fill the pages.
Goal setting is an aid to planning the workout schedule and a key motivator. To achieve your goals, you must go out and train. Achieving a goal motivates you to set a new one. Tell your family and friends some of your goals and ask for their support to help you meet them. Doing so is a commitment to your goal.
Call or arrange with a friend to meet you to run. You will feel obligated not to disappoint them and you may actually enjoy running with someone. If this idea works for you, plan weekly training sessions with others such as attending group runs. You can even go to a race and run at training pace if being with others is important to you.
Try to create a habit. Set aside a specific time to run and let everyone know that this is your time to run. If you're really having a hard time and can't tell if you're physically or really only mentally tired, try the 5 minute test. Tell yourself that you only need to run for 5 minutes. If you still feel terrible at the end of 5 minutes, quit and enjoy a rest day. Usually, since you're already out there and feeling better, you'll decide to complete the workout.
Give yourself rewards; have a beer or a cookie after running; plan a family activity after completing the week's schedule with their help. Buy yourself some new shoes or shorts for meeting your goal mileage base. Use whatever rewards appeal to you. Including your friends and family in the rewards also encourages them to be supportive of you and your goals. As you run more, it becomes addictive and you feel deprived if you don't do it. Often the running becomes its own intrinsic reward. Use the "Premack Principle". This involves making an activity that is usually done contingent on an activity you want to do. If you usually read the newspaper when you get home, make reading the paper depend on going out for your run first.
Incorporate variety, run a different course, try new shoes, call a new friend to run with you. Try to incorporate your running into your lifestyle. Run to work, then you'll need to get home somehow - run. Try running as a means of transportation at other times. Interest your family and friends in running so that you can run together and so they can understand your need to train. Be creative and enjoy your running.
When it is difficult to get out the door because you are sick or injured, listen to your body. Workout schedules are guidelines not requirements. It is always OK to skip a workout or take an easy day if your body or your mind needs the rest. You can train effectively only if you are healthy, so do all you can to stay that way.
Run The Planet thanks Patti & Warren Finke and Team Oregon for the permission to reprint the complete online version of the first edition of the book Marathoning Start to Finish (Hypertext Version 1.02) by Patti & Warren Finke. © 1986, 1996 wY'east Consulting, All Rights reserved.