Being a runner is definitely amazing! It is also a commitment to a healthy lifestyle that takes some getting used to, making it difficult to stay motivated at times. Don’t worry if this sounds familiar, even experienced runners have trouble with this from time to time. Luckily, it’s not a difficult thing to fix.
Keeping your motivation up is important for all runners, but it is especially important for beginners and those just starting to get into this awesome sport.
These are my favourite ways to stay motivated and keep running at the forefront of my life.
Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a new runner all decked out in shiny new gear, racing down the street as fast as humanly possible, just to collapse at the next stop sign.
If you are an experienced runner, and are running intervals – great, off you go!
But if you are just starting out, please do not do this.
This approach almost guarantees that you will over exert yourself and cause some kind of injury, ending your new found running lifestyle before it even begins.
A rather big blow to the motivation, don’t you think?
Instead, know that there is nothing at all wrong with starting out with a slow jog, or even a fast walk. Nothing at all.
Don’t let anyone tell you different. Why?
Let me take this opportunity to pull out one of the most popular running motivation quotes:
“No matter how slow you go, you are already lapping everyone on the sofa.”
Taking that first step and learning how to start running is BIG. Be proud of that.
The very first day I started running back in 2012, I did four reps – something along the lines of jogging for 30 seconds, and then walking for 2 minutes. It was so damn exhausting.
I’ll be honest, I hated every minute of it. I had to push myself to get back out a second and third time. But I did.
And now I have nine medals and counting.
Be patient with yourself.
Eventually you’ll get to where you want to be, but remember that we all have to crawl before we can walk. Take it easy on yourself and always be proud of your improvements each day.
Start with Short Intervals
Don’t expect to be able to knock out a five kilometer run on your first day out there. Maybe not even within your first month.
This might be unrealistic for you. Not to mention, it can also be bad for your confidence as a runner.
Who wants to get back out there after a painful and less than desirable performance?!
Look at how my first run went. Imagine if I had tried to force myself to run a full kilometre on that first day? I would not have been able to do it, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to get back out there again.
Instead, start out slow, as I mentioned above, but also start with shorter distances.
What that distance is will depend on your starting point. Maybe your starting point is 100 meters, 500 meters or 3 kilometres. An important running tip for beginners is this:
Never compare yourself to anyone else.
For me, I have no idea how far I ran that first day. And I don’t care. I only care that I got out there and started.
Either way, start slow and short and work your way up to longer runs at a decent pace.
Try a New Route
If you’ve been at it for a few weeks, and sense that you might be getting a bit bored, try switching up the route you take when you go running.
It can be hard to keep yourself motivated while running when you know exactly where that big crack in the sidewalk is, or how many minutes it will take you to get to the next lights.
I use MapMyRun to map out all of my routes. This site tells you everything you need to know about your fitness status. You can even download their app to your phone to track your progress, compete with friends, or try routes that others have mapped out and posted. You can even sync it with other fitness gadgets to keep everything in one place.
On shorter runs, I generally have a couple different routes mapped out and tend to stick to them, but my longer runs have a different route every time.
A huge motivation killer for me is being ten kilometres in and knowing exactly how many blocks I still have to go, or that I’m only at the halfway point.
Schedule Your Runs
Life gets in the way. I totally get it.
For me, my full time job is school – exams, assignments and 500 pages of reading every single week. (Nursing school at its finest!)
For you, maybe it’s working 50 hours a week, or taking care of your kids, or your parents, or managing your online bonsai tree business.
My point is, I absolutely get that it can be really difficult to make time to run.
The trick here is to make running a part of your life and treat it like a priority, just like watering those bonsai’s.
One way to do this is to create a schedule and stick to it.
If you say, “I’ll start Monday”, there’s a very good chance that come Monday, a hundred other things will come up and by the time you realize you were supposed to run that day, you’ll be too tired to do so, and you’ll be off the wagon before you even get on.
But, if you make a plan to go for a half hour run before or after the kids get up and off to school, you’re more likely to stick to it.
If it helps you to write out your day, do that.
If it helps you to put Post It’s on the mirror to remind you, do that.
Or maybe it helps you to set your clothes and runners out the night before, do that.
Whatever works for YOU.
For me, I know that when I’m training for a half marathon, I am running Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
Unless there’s something absurd going on outside weather wise – because let’s be honest, I live in Canada, so nothing is beyond Mother Nature here – I can generally stick to that.
I purposely don’t plan anything on those mornings. This makes my run a priority on those mornings.
Try a New Playlist
One of the top tips I give beginner runners is this:
If you are already singing the next song on your playlist before the current one ends, you know your play list to well, and it’s time for a refresh.
How boring is it to hear the same songs over and over, day after day?
That certainly doesn’t motivate me.
Switch it up. Try different genres – maybe one day it’s all pop, and the next it’s all all rock or house music.
For me, I absolute MUST have music that I can run to the beat. If I can’t, I’m all over the map, my form is off, and I quit way too soon.
With the right beat though, I get lost in my footsteps and can go forever.
My playlist is mostly reggaetón and some dancehall.
I’m small, so my cadence is short (the space between my front heel and back toes when I take a step) and my step is quicker (how fast I take each step) than someone who is average height.
Reggaetón works well for me because the music typically has a fast beat. Same goes for some dancehall.
Here are my top six favourite songs that are always on my playlist during a race:
- Murder She Wrote – Chaka Demus & Pliers
- Siguelo Bailando – Ozuna
- Safari – J. Balvin, Pharrell Williams, BIA, Sky
- On Fleek (Love You Everything) – Alkaline (This one is especially fast and is GREAT for tempo runs.)
- Get Me Bodied – Beyonce (Every woman needs a little girl power motivation from Queen B! This is another fast beat. I once ran an entire half marathon with this song on repeat just so I wouldn’t lose my focus or rhythm.)
- Mek It Bunx Up – DeeWunn, Marcy Chin
Don’t Forget Diet and Hydration
It should go without saying that if you don’t fuel the machine, you can’t expect it to perform well.
The same thing applies to your body.
Proper nutrition and hydration are critical to your performance as a runner, as well as your recovery.
I often struggle with eating enough food, so I make sure to supplement my diet with supplements by having a protein shake every morning.
I have noticed a big difference in my performance and recovery since starting on this regimen. You can read about what supplements I take, and why I take each one, in this post – The Best Supplements for Runners.
If supplements aren’t your thing, I can’t recommend meal prep enough. I would never eat properly without it.
Read about how I stay on top of hydration and meal prep in this post – Five Training Tips to Running Half Marathons.
Also, be aware that if you are prone to nausea and stomach pains when you are running, this is an indication that you are eating too much prior to your run. Try scaling back your pre workout meal, and you will notice a difference.
Another popular running saying is this:
My sport is your sports punishment.
I get that some don’t like running. And that’s fair. I feel the same way about going to the gym.
For me though – and now you too! YAY! – running is such a great sport. It requires no expensive equipment (good shoes aside), can be done anywhere (no gym membership required!), at any time (2am run? Sure!), and is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and get in shape.
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