Welcome to Workout Wednesday! I didn’t realize how many answers I would have for this question until I started typing. I think I could talk about finding ways to stay motivated to run forever. If there’s anything you would add, please mention it in the comments!
Q: What’s the best way to motivate when you’re in a slump?
A: In no particular order… (except #1. That first one is my absolute favorite way to re-energize my running. All the others are listed randomly).
1) Sign up for a race
Sometimes just putting a race- any race- on the calendar is all you need to do to gain some motivation. Other times it’s necessary to sign up for a distance that will be challenging or setting a certain time goal for a distance you are already comfortable with. I made a goal of beating Dan in a 5k a few years ago, though I was comfortable with the distance, it was fun to add some friendly competition to my motivation to train.
2)Make it social
Make plans to meet a friend, join a group or a club, or see if your local running store hosts a run that leaves from the store. When I got really into running. I was training for my first marathon, and I was desperate for some company on my long runs. There was a group that left from the running store every Saturday at 7am. Anywhere between five and ten people would meet there, nearly all of whom were much faster than I was. I showed up faithfully, and even though I didn’t always have someone to run with, at the very least it got me out on the road, with all my miles logged before most of my friends were waking up.
3) Change your routine
Do you run on the roads all the time? Try a trail. If you follow the same route all the time, try a detour. Try heading out “naked”- no watch, no tunes, no phone, no Garmin for a change, if any or all of these are part of your normal running accoutrement. If you run the same pace for every run, try adding some intervals to your runs- it can be as simple as picking up the pace between street lamps or as you ascend the hills.
4) Run with music. Or don’t.
If you don’t normally run with music, try running with music. If you normally run with music, download some new tunes. Or try running without it and see what you notice.
5) Run on the treadmill
If you normally run outside, try the treadmill. I like to watch a show on my ipad on the treadmill as a special treat, since I rarely make time to sit down and watch a show on the couch like a normal person. If you belong to busy gym, it can be fun to listen to music while you people watch from the treadmill. Also, treadmills are great for specific workouts. You could do a progression run, for example. This is a run where you increase the pace gradually with every mile, so that you finish at a pace much faster than the one you started at.
If you normally run on the treadmill, run outside for a change. Enjoy the fresh air and the sights and sounds around you. Yes, chances are it will be harder than running on the treadmill, but you can always slow down. You might find the time flies by when you’re actually going somewhere.
Take 20 minutes to sit down with a piece of paper or your computer and write about running. Some prompts could include: What are your goals? What does running mean to you? What do you love about running? How do you feel when you run? How do you feel after you run? How has running changed you? What happens in your mind when you run? If you find that you struggle with motivation frequently, it might help to list the reasons why you run and post it in a place where you will see it often (the fridge, on your dresser, in your bathroom).
8) Make a deal
Promise yourself you have the right to stop running after ten minutes if you still don’t feel like it at that point. I have been a runner for over twenty years and I’ve only turned around after I started one time (except the times I was injured, and it just hurt too much). I love this trick. It’s enough to get you out the door, which is always the hardest part.
9) Log your miles
Sign up for a free web-based workout tracker, like Daily Mile (which I’m on! I would love to connect with you if you’re using it!). You log your workouts there, including time, mileage, and any other details you would like to include and it keeps track, so you never have to do any math. It also allows you to log other workouts, like swimming, cycling, walking, hiking, etc. Seeing the miles add up can be very motivating. Also, if you find your friends on Daily Mile (it pulls from your email contacts and your Facebook friends with your permission), your workouts will appear in each other’s feeds, and you can comment on your friends’ workouts if you like. Of course, you can always keep an old fashioned training log in a notebook. It’s motivating to see where you’ve been and where you’re at now in black and white.
Go to the library and borrow a stack of back issues of Runners World. Read books about running. The first running book I ever bought, which is still my favorite, is called The Zen of Running. That one always inspires me to go for a run. Reading runners’ blogs can also be inspiring. I read Shut Up and Run once in a while (though I really should read it more) and I subscribe to Hungry Runner Girl in my Feedly. Reading about running always gets me fired up to run.
11) Hire a coach
For some people, it is really motivating to have a coach. My performance skyrocketed when I hired a coach. I was more consistent in my training than I had ever been and I was doing workouts I previously did not think I was capable of. A coach provides you with assigned workouts, moral support, objective feedback about your performance and whether it’s really a good idea to skip that workout, and most importantly, accountability. There is something magical, for many of us, about paying someone else to tell us what to do. Even (especially?) if we already know what to do, there is so much to be said for the way paying someone for their coaching enhances your accountability. On the other hand, a coach can also keep you from overtraining. More is not always better, and a coach has the necessary distance to tell you when you’re overdoing it.
12) Go rogue
If you’re used to working with a coach and you feel you need to spice things up, it could be time to make the break. If you like to experiment with your running to see what works for you, you don’t feel like answering to anyone, and you want to try something different after having been coached, try doing your own thing.
13) Ask Why
Ask yourself why you aren’t motivated. It’s normal to not always feel like going for a run. It’s normal for some runs to be great, some to be miserable, and most to be somewhere in the middle. But if you feel like never want to go for a run and you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed running, you could be experiencing burnout. Other signs of burnout or overtraining include aches and pains that don’t go away, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and an elevated resting heart rate. If you’re experiencing this, it’s best to back off sooner rather than later. Once you get into a hole of overtraining, it’s hard to dig yourself back out. If you keep a training diary, review it to see when you started to feel blah, and what preceded that. You might notice too many back to back hard workouts or a rapid increase in your weekly mileage. If you’ve been overtraining, take some time off running to recharge your batteries.
14) Add cross training into your regimen
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Some time away from running might be just what you need to fall in love with it again. Try a spin class, a home workout dvd, hiking, swimming, a boot camp class, weight lifting, a dance class, tennis, pilates, or any other form of fitness that sounds like fun.
15) Go shopping
If your running wardrobe could use a refresher, splurge on a new top, shorts, gloves, hat, water bottle carrier, or whatever you fancy. Or don’t… I salivate over the clothes at Lucy and Athleta, but I can’t bring myself to spend stupid amounts of cash on stuff I’m going to sweat in, so I generally find good deals on brands like Brooks, Sugoi, New Balance, and Moving Comfort (best sports bras!) at Sierra Trading Post.
I’ve used my blog as an accountability tool in the past and that has been very motivating for me. When I was getting back in shape after having Sweet Pea, and when I started feeling less than enthusiastic about my half marathon training, my blog was an awesome resource. I committed to blogging about my workouts daily for 40 days and 45 days, respectively, and there is something powerful about making your goals and your process public. At least, there was for me. I totally recommend this, especially if you already have a blog.
17) Look at your diet
If you’re eating crap all the time and/or overeating, your energy level might suffer. Which will make you not feel like running. Add in some more fruits and vegetables or try keeping a diary of what you eat and see what happens.
18) Look at your sleep
Are you getting your z’s? Be honest with yourself. You can’t burn the candle at both ends for very long before the fatigue catches up with you. Sleeping more = more energy = you’re less likely to dread running
I’m sure I will go to bed tonight and think of a dozen things I forgot to mention… What else do you think needs to be included here? What’s your favorite way to motivate when you’re in a slump?
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