Running and motivation go hand-in-hand. When it comes to staying motivated, running is a mind game. Numerous articles, books, and news reports have been written on the externals or physical side of running (i.e. training, injury-prevention, nutrition, running apparel, running accessories, etc.), but far too little space and time has been dedicated to running motivation. It is time to reverse the trend. Seek motivation first and the desire to run, and run successfully, will surely follow.
Let's take a look at several tips and techniques for you to obtain, maintain, and increase your motivation to run: set goals; utilize a training log; implement the buddy system; surround yourself with reminders; be creative with your workouts; set completion goals, not time goals; do more than run; visit a running store; occasionally enter a race; reward yourself when you succeed.
A great motivation technique is to set running goals for yourself so that you can monitor your progress on a weekly or monthly basis. As you are able to see your progress, your enthusiasm for running will soar. Listed below are some specific goal setting tips:
Be specific - In order to stimulate your motivation, you need to be specific with your goal setting. Instead of saying you are going to set a personal best in a 10K road race, set a goal to improve on your personal best by 15 seconds in the next six months.
Set a deadline - Complacency and an attitude of "I will work on that later" will set in if your deadline for achieving your goal is not defined. Add a sense of urgency to your goal by adding a specific timeframe and watch your motivation skyrocket!
Set realistic but difficult to obtain goals - Your running goals should be achievable and challenging at the same time. An unrealistic goal will kill motivation but a goal that is too easily obtained will lead to boredom.
Write and review your goals - Writing down your goals creates your roadmap to success. Although just the act of writing them down can set the process in motion, it is also extremely important to frequently review your goals. Remember, the more focused you are on your running goals the more likely you are to accomplish them.
Develop a plan and work it - Develop a plan of action to achieve your running goals and then just do it! By taking the time to decide on the specific steps needed to achieve your goals, you increase your motivation and your chances of success. The final step is to get out there and work your plan.
Utilize a training log
Keep a training log of each run. Record times, distances, time of day, weather, your pulse rate, progress toward goals and any other statistic or aspect of your running you might find valuable. A training log allows you to monitor your progress and learn from your mistakes. Many runners regularly review their training logs to look at the work they have done in the past to provide motivation for the future.
Implement the buddy system
Run with a compatible training partner or running group. Finding others with which to run makes time fly, provides accountability, builds friendships, and provides mutual motivation on those days when you or your partner(s) just "don't feel like it". Don't know of anyone to run with? Check out your local running club. A running club is a great to place to find other runners who run your pace. Running clubs include runners at every level and, if they don't, they soon cease to exist.
Surround yourself with reminders
Sustained motivation is key to achieving your potential. One way to keep your motivation high is to find out what fires you up, and then surround yourself with it. Examples include: posters, quotes, photos, inspiring literature, biographies of successful runners, running books, running magazines, and videos. Place your "mental stimuli" where you can see it every day.
Be creative with your workouts
Doing the same workout day after day leads to boredom and burnout. Alter your workout routine by incorporating some or all of the following: leave your watch at home and run for the enjoyment of it without worrying about time goals; change the time of day you normally run (if you are a morning runner, switch to running in the evening and vice versa); find some new running routes; alter the distance you normally run; challenge yourself by adding some speed or hill repeats to your workout. Being creative with your workout will add new life to your running.
Set completion goals, not time goals
At some point, you just won't be able to beat the clock any longer. All runners eventually reach the point where they aren't going to get any faster. To avoid discouragement and possibly even quitting the sport, cultivate new running goals. Decide to complete a specific number of races a year or to complete a longer distance race. Whatever you determine, keep your running fresh, challenging, and new by setting some non-time related goals.
Do more than run
To add a boost of motivation, incorporate some cross training in your workout routine. There are many other activities, other than running, that can increase your strength, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning. Mix in some cycling, swimming, in-line roller skating, hiking, cross-country skiing, or weight training. Just do it!
Visit a running store
Stop by a running store on a regular basis to pick up a race application, running accessory, new running magazine, or the latest running book. Your motivation to run will be lifted when you put yourself in an environment that supports your goals. Running stores thrive based on people like you who love to run. They are thrilled to answer your questions, give suggestions, and discuss your training.
Occasionally enter a race
Want to increase your motivation and feel the adrenaline of competition? Enter an occasional fun, local race. The spill-over effect will keep you motivated for weeks afterward and may even spur you on to enter even more races!
Reward yourself when you succeed
Rewards can be a powerful motivator. When you do succeed, make sure to do something nice for yourself. Many runners who have reached their goal treat themselves to some tangible reward: a new running shirt, a sports watch, a meal at a nice restaurant, or a special trip. The ideas are limited only by your imagination. Bottom line: be good to yourself.
Run The Planet thanks The Running Advisor website (www.therunningadvisor.com) for the permission to reprint the article "Running Motivation Tips and Techniques". Text © by The Running Advisor. Illustration © 2005 by Run The Planet.