Motivation isn’t second nature…
…it can’t be expected, guaranteed or taken for granted.
Forcing the habit and sticking religiously to a demanding physical routine is a tough ask for anyone. Luckily, there are a bunch of things you can start doing today—strategies and approaches dedicated runners swear by—that’ll help you keep up that much needed momentum.
So you can focus on what matters…
Log your activity
Simple, but extremely effective—a running diary will give you a retrospective bird’s eye view on your activity and a deeper insight into your training habits.
Some runner’s log everything from detailed run summaries, to nutritional intake and sleep patterns. But it’s really up to you how granular you get with your diary, where you record it and how you use it to power your training. Just make sure you’re recording every run!
Whether it’s your trusty notebook, a running app or spreadsheet, consistently tracking specific criteria will enable you to accurately measure progress, identify any mistakes in your approach, and make informed decisions about your training plan—restoring order where necessary.
- What do you need to do before your next race?
- What goals are realistic?
- Did you meet your weekly target?
- Are there any patterns emerging?
- How have your fitness levels changed?
These are all questions your diary can answer. It’ll bring a new sense of structure to your running, and help to rationalise your activity.
Explore new types of running
“When possible, and when daylight permits, try to run on grass or softer surfaces,” says three-time London Marathon champion Paula Radcliffe. “Not only does this put less strain on your body, helping to protect your joints, but allows your body to recover quicker.”
This is just one example of the benefits of changing up your running routine.
Running the same pace, the same distance, the same route and the same terrain, over and over and over, will have you bored in no time. But exploring new types of running doesn’t only help to keep things fresh. It also transforms the body into a more complete running machine.
High intensity interval training is the fast lane to cardiovascular endurance.
Trail running boosts balance, agility, and core and leg strength.
Hill repeats enhance fatigue resistance and lactic threshold.
“The biggest thing people go wrong with is being repetitive in their running,” says former 1500m World Champion Steve Cram. “Look at what elite athletes do—they are wide-ranging with track runs and faster runs to break up their mileage into bite-size pieces. “It doesn’t help running the same pace for three miles or twelve miles, mix your pace and your distances.”
Learn how to run negative splits
This is a quick win for all runners, and a valuable strategy to take into races.
The formula is straightforward: Leave enough fuel in the tank during the first half of your run so that you can run the second half faster.
It’s a basic training principle for long distance runners. When executed correctly it helps to eliminate the effects of fatigue, and brings focus and balance to your running.
Mastering the negative split technique takes practise. This is all about pacing (the runner’s sixth sense)—having the confidence to start slower than your average pace and trusting that your body will see you through to the end. But it’s also something you can start applying as soon as your next run.
And once you’ve got it down? You’ll be a completely different runner.
Run in the mornings
While everyone else is out for the count or punching the snooze button, get out in the world and start your day like you mean it. Easier said than done? Yes. Sure, getting out of bed at the crack of dawn can be a real struggle, and that’s before you’ve added a run into the equation. But hear us out for a second…
Imagine finishing your run and still having the whole day ahead of you. Running without worrying which meal you just ate. Running with just the sunrise and your thoughts.
Morning runners experience improved happiness and motivation. They chalk up their first achievement of the day before breakfast and are able to fit their training into the busiest of schedule. All this because they’ve come to realise the benefits of morning runs far outweigh the ten minutes of cold and drowsiness once they’ve left the comfort of their bed sheets.
“I view waking up early like ripping off a Band-Aid,” says ultra runner and running coach Michele Gonzalez. “It’s gonna hurt for a bit.”
Changing your routine takes time, but with a little gumption it’s always do-able.
You just have to want it.
Don’t live and die by your training plan
Missed a training run? Opted for the pub, an evening on the sofa or big night out instead of the run you had been planning in your head all day?
You’re only human, don’t beat yourself up.
Deviating from your training plan shouldn’t feel like a sin. Guilt is a drain on motivation and self belief and it will only hold you back. Look at your training plan as more of a guide, be flexible with your schedule and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
There’s also the small matter of overdoing it too.
“While it’s important to have a training programme, you must also listen to your body and make adjustments if you are very tired or worried you are about to become injured,” says two-time Marathon World Champion, Edna Kiplagat.
It’s important to remember that you’re not invincible.
If you feel you need more recovery time or you’re running the risk of injury if you go for a run, take the time to rest and recuperate until you feel fit and ready to go again.
Search for small doses of inspiration
Got the bug for running? Good. Let’s keep it that way.
Searching for regular doses of inspiration—no matter how small—will keep you hungry for more and give you that all-important extra oomph when you need it.
“Continually seek new inspiration, whether it’s a line from a book, a quip from a friend or an electrifying song,” says American marathon and half-marathon record holder Deena Kastor.
Watch, read, listen. Move.