Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the game for years, running can be a very rewarding pastime. It boosts your mood, tones your body, tunes up the heart and circulatory system and burns off excess calories. And when you’re in the zone there’s nothing else quite like it, it’s meditation on the move and a pleasure pounding the pavement.
But sometimes when you’ve lost your mojo – or aren’t sure if you ever had any – it can be helpful to have a few motivational tools available to chisel your arse off the couch and hammer it out the front door.
So I made a little list for every type of slacker out there. Get ready to pummel those wussypants excuses into oblivion
New and finding it hard to get out the door?
- Pick a race and sign up: Anything will do, a 5k, a 3k, a school fun run, it doesn’t matter how long the race is, as long as it terrifies you a little bit. It needs to loom large in your mind. Once it does you’ll find it much easier to ignore the siren song of the couch and get straight out the door after work.
- Don’t make it harder than it has to be: Run/walk – concentrate on doing a little, often, rather than a lot, occasionally. Ironically, when you’re starting out your biggest running gains will happen quite quickly when you’re consistent and gentle with yourself.
Long runs looming large?
- Use a race to get it done: In this situation you’re looking for the opposite to the newbie above. You want a race that doesn’t scare you. A local half-marathon, or a laid-back trail race of intermediate distance, for example. It should be fun, or at least different/interesting, easy to get to and something that won’t stress you out. Using a race as your long run also helps to remind you to respect the distance. You’ll prepare more thoroughly and hopefully push yourself a little harder than usual. Just don’t try TOO hard. If it’s not your A race for the season make sure you leave something in the tank.
- Break it up: do 5k on the treadmill to warmup then head outside to finish the other 10. Or do 7k on a trail and finish the other 10 on pathways. Run to a meeting point to do a short run with a friend who isn’t running long. Eg. 5k to a trail, meet your buddy, do an easy 7 then 5k home. It’s all time on your feet.
- Get lost. Sort of! Go somewhere different and just head off in one direction for at least an hour then turn around and come home. Exploring local trails and other suburbs this way is heaps of fun and takes the emphasis off mileage alone.
It’s really really hot:
- Go. Early. I cannot stress this enough. 99% of your issues with summer running will be over if you can manage to get out the door at 6am.
- Go short x 2. Do 20 mins in the morning and again at night. Bonus: you’ll get to have two cold showers PLUS this kind of effort is great for creating huge endurance gains
For when it’s so cold politicians are putting their hands in their own pockets:
- Layer layer layer then –
- Sign up for a winter race BEFORE it gets cold, this way you’ll have no choice but to get out there and train. The Surf Coast Trail Marathon, which is at the end of June, works a treat for me in regard to this issue
- Do some pre-run warm-up drills inside then head out on your run. They help with overall strength training, which we should all be doing anyway (right? Right?) and let you run faster straight out of the gate, without risk of injury, which in turn keeps you warmer.
- What’s that you say? I’ve forgotten about treadmills and exercising inside? Wrong. That all sucks. NEXT.
- Promise yourself a luxuriously hot bubble bath when you get home. And a hot chocolate. Or a whiskey. Whatever floats your boat…
For when you don’t have much time:
- 2 a-days again. 2 x 20 min runs will do you just as much good as a 40 min run. Coupled with really easy and short runs on days ‘off’, this is how I’ve been keeping my mileage high now that we’re getting to that busy time of year. Go when you can, even if it’s short and easy or on your day off. Just be sure you’re listening to your body and not jeopardising any key workouts (i.e. don’t do a hilly run the evening before a morning hill reps workout)
- Got less than 20 mins? Forget the run and squeeze in a quick strength top up. Challenge yourself to get a certain amount of squats/Pushups/situps or planks done throughout the day. We all tend to skimp on the strength work, so if you can’t run, this will at least give you a positive benefit, even if it doesn’t directly add to your mileage.
For when you’ve lost your mojo:
- Create a blog – it doesn’t have to be something public, but just writing about your successes and setbacks can re-enthuse you and hold you a little bit more accountable
- Find a big crazy goal that scares the bejeezus out of you then sign up for it while drunk.
- Sometimes you just get burnt out, so if that’s the case perhaps it’s time to take a running holiday. If you don’t have a race coming up, take a few weeks off running and enjoy a different sport. Swim, ride, play soccer, go hiking or scrambling in nearby mountains, learn to surf if it’s summer, or try cross country skiing in winter. It shouldn’t be expensive and doesn’t need any more commitment than a few weeks of your life. Then, when you do come back to running, you’ll be reinvigorated for it, without having sacrificed too much fitness.
- New music – make a new playlist that really fires you up and don’t let yourself listen to it unless you are running – this way it will serve as both an incentive and a reward
- Set yourself mini challenges: Find out your week’s highest mileage. Beat it. Your quickest training run 5k time? Try to beat it. It doesn’t have to be about speed either – that hill reps session where you always finish after 5 reps? Do 6, or 8.
- Or slow it right down. Do your ‘usual’ run – everyone’s got one – and try to keep your HR as low as possible without walking. Why? Because it teaches your body to burn fat rather than glucose, which is imperative for endurance racing.
- Try to create a streak: You’d be surprised how often the thought of breaking a streak of even a few days can be enough to get you out the door.
If nothing else works then you may just be a little stressed and burnt out, in which case set a pre-determined time off, take a rest without guilt then come back and check this list to get you back out there and into it.