The major challenge that a runner faces is to motivate oneself to run regularly. Many of us start training to run in high spirits but soon the spirits seem to vanish. Some take a new year resolution to run but a week into the New Year the resolution is forgotten. In this post I want to share my experience so that the readers get some enthusiasm and tips to run with some regularity. It is important to understand why you want to run and what is your motivation to run. Running is hard work, time consuming and sometimes even painful. Therefore, a sustained level of enthusiasm is required which comes with motivation.
I too faced this challenge to keep myself motivated to be a regular runner. In the beginning going for a run was like going for a monotonous chore. Motivating myself to get on the jogging track or road or a tread mill was a big struggle. Travelling on long tours was part of my corporate job. These tours used to break my routine and i had to start all over again once back home. It is extremely difficult to come back to a routine running schedule once you have a long break. One of the things to remember is not to have an “all or nothing” approach. Have fun and not get bogged down with missing your routine due to work.
Below are some guidelines basis which you can try to analyze where you need motivation or an extra push to start running:
Set realistic goals: It is very important to set small achievable goals. Setting unrealistic goals that can’t be achieved can be a frustrating experience. For a new runner it may be intimidating to think of all the kilometers that needs to be covered. So set small goals. Even a couple of kilometers a day , thrice a week is good to start with.
Celebrate the small achievements: Enjoy achievement of your small goals which can take you to further distance. Gift yourselves a nice running tracks or a pair of shoes you wanted. These gifts will make you remember your small steps and motivate you.
Flexible Routine: Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you missed your routine due to whatever reason don’t fret. Your body will not lose its ability to run after the break. You need to use your mind to drive the body forward by staying focused. Just carry on from where you left when you hit back the track.
Monitor progress: Monitor your progress through a mobile app or buy a fitness tracker. This will help you to know where you are and motivate you to go further.
Diet control: A proper diet will go a long way in helping you to maintain your body and build energy. An improved diet will motivate you. Here you need to follow the maxim of breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper. Dinner should be consumed at least 2 to 3 hours before you hit the bed.
Proper sleep: Make use of your time and sleep properly in time. Early to bed and early to rise should be the motto but in case that is not possible don’t sulk over it. Sleep well whenever you have the chance.
Variety in your runs: Bring variety in your running routine. If you are running in a park every day that will bring boredom. To avoid boredom, choose different routes. Sometimes getting onto a tread mill would be good especially if the weather is bad. Enjoy the outdoors.
Wear proper clothing: When going out on a run you should wear proper attire as per the weather. I have seen people making excuse’s due to cold weather or a rainy day. A proper clothing will motivate you to run in not so best of conditions.
Check health improvements: This is one of the primary motivation for most people to start running. In this case the best way to motivate oneself is to think of the benefits you are going to reap. If you had history of ailments or genetic ailments due to which you took up running or made lifestyle changes you need to continuously monitor your health record. You need to ensure that you periodically check your health stats like checking your blood pressure, sugar level, weight etc. The improvements you make in your health and the extra energy and zing you will have will be a great motivation for you.
Meet like -minded people: Try and meet people who are yearning for the same goal as you. They may be your friends, relatives or even strangers. If you don’t like to run solo, find a friend or a running buddy who can wake you up in the morning or remind you about your date with running. For some running on roads or parks in public is an embarrassment and thus a common reason why people don’t get started or continue running. Everyone needs a little push & encouragement from time to time.
Prioritize your chores: You should try to give some priority for your running remembering the good that awaits you. This may be a very challenging task especially for ladies who needs to balance the household needs, the babies & a corporate life. Involve your spouse more into sharing your responsibilities. Schedule your runs in such a way that your spouse can help with help with the baby sitting or any child care activities.
Cross training: Only running every day might be very boring for some. Therefore, it is always advisable to do cross training in the form of cycling or swimming. Weight training can enhance your running ability.
As you start getting fit into your running routine you will face lot of frustrations in the shape of niggling injuries or discomfort which are associated with running. A new runner gets frustrated with this and may give up on his/her running. However, with your resolve you can overcome such niggles. As you get experienced you will find ways to get over these injuries and take preventive steps to reduce your running related injuries. You will know more about your body and will start finding ways to avoid these injuries. You learn the importance of stretching & warm up’s. I will be sharing my experience on the injuries & the importance of stretching in another blog so that new runners have a clue to avoid injuries when they begin. You will also learn the importance of having the right running shoes for your feet.
Once you get into the running habit it will not bother you even if you miss running for few days owing to your routine work. After few days break you will be itching to hit the road again. You will even carry your running shoes on your business tours even though you might not get a chance to use it.
There are endless ways and means to motivate yourself. The degree of motivation may vary from an individual to individual. It is an endless cycle. You can motivate yourself with the thought of getting your selves a fit and new body. Some just start registering their name to participate in the local annual 5k, 10k or 21 k run’s. This will also give motivation to train & run. The more you participate in such events the more you get motivated to finish a race and stay fit.
This article was just an humble attempt to share my experiences and help beginners as many of my friends have told me they cant motivate themselves enough to start long distance running as a means to keep fit. They also get intimidated with the thought of going for a long run. The guidelines i gave to over come this fears are from my personal experiences and there is no scientific basis to it. Each individual is different and over a period of time each one will develop their own techniques to train & motivate as per their own physique and temperament.
Hope this article could serve all my friends who intends to start regular running. I will soon dedicate another article on the mechanics of running for the beginners.