Okay, your alarm goes off at 5 AM (or earlier) and you hit the snooze button. There you are, lying in bed in a state of semi-consciousness and running through the list of reasons to get up (or not get up), throw on your winter running clothes, put on your reflective vest and headlamp and head out the door into the bitter-cold darkness. Conversely, you have put in a long day of travelling for work and arrive back home to be greeted, again, by the darkness and begin to debate whether you have the mental and physical energy to get dressed in your running gear and get your run in. Welcome to my world!
I have been running for over 40 years and I still must find the motivation to get out and run. Certainly, the time of year factors heavily into that motivation; the winter months are the most difficult – duh! But you would think that after all this time I would be programmed to get my run in. Don’t get me wrong, I have always found that motivation to run, but I struggle with it just like everyone else.
So, how does a runner find the motivation to get their miles in? The most important thing you do is set a goal. For most of us, this goal is a race somewhere off in the not too distant future. Something like the Vermont City Marathon, perhaps? Having a goal race to train for provides the initial catalyst to get out and run everyday (or most everyday), but as the saying goes, “A goal without plan is called a dream!” That’s where having a training plan comes in. A running plan provides you with a day-to-day road map of training and rest. If you are consistent and remain injury and illness free, then you stand the best chance of success come race day.
Now, you start your plan and things have been going well for several weeks, but then inertia seeps in and you find it harder and harder to stick to the schedule. Where do you find the motivation? Here are a few tips which have helped me all these many years:
- Have a training partner or join a local running group. Chances are very good that your local running club has weekly group runs which you could take part in. Out of that, you might find fellow runners who you could train with more frequently.
- Just the act of getting your running clothes on and getting out the door may help. I have suggested to runners I coach that if they can simply get out the door and get a mile or two into their run they could turn around and head home if they weren’t “feeling it.” In most cases, they got their entire workout in.
- Not all running has to be done outdoors. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a treadmill, and the weather and/or darkness is standing in the way of getting your workout in, then the treadmill is a great alternative.
- Use mental imagery. I play mental games and envision running in warmer months when there is more daylight, knowing that as each day goes by, I am closer to that realization!
- Finally, consider guilt. If you have a goal race and you have a training plan, then I would suggest you consider all the other runners who find the motivation to train. When I have that internal debate with myself after the alarm goes off, the strongest motivator I have is the guilt I feel if I don’t run. I go through the day with regret and envy whenever I see runners out on the streets getting their runs in. I always resolve not to be left behind!
So, before you press that snooze button (or take a hammer to that alarm) consider some of these suggestions to help you stay committed!
All the best,