Staying motivated for beginners

Staying motivated for beginners

Many new runners fall by the wayside once their initial burst of enthusiasm dwindles. If this happens, don't give up. There are ways to re-motivate yourself.

Which of the following will affect your running training? Bear them in mind when planning how to encourage yourself to run regularly.

  • The individual: your personality will determine what sort of training you do and when. Do you prefer routine, or spontaneity?
  • Occupation: a significant factor that determines the amount of time and energy you can contribute to training.
  • Environmental factors: the weather, terrain and location that you have available will affect your motivation and ability to step out the door for that run you promised yourself.
  • Lifestyle: those with a lot of commitments, such as parents, will have to be very organised to fit in regular running.
The stages of change
Setting goals for yourself is crucial to motivation and a skill in itself

Are you ready to make some changes in your life and become a runner? If not, your motivation to run regularly could quickly evaporate as you slip back into old habits. Research suggests there are five stages to change, but it's only when you are in the third and fourth stages that you are ready to adapt:
  1. Pre-contemplation: when you are not changing and have no intention to change.
  2. Contemplation: here, a person has not yet changed but is intending to do so.
  3. Preparation: at this stage, you'll have started to make some changes.
  4. Action: you've made all the changes necessary to become a regular runner and your motivation is high.
  5. Maintenance: maintaining that motivation over the coming months is key to success.
Getting past the first two stages
 
During the first two stages, motivation is necessary to encourage advancement through stages three and four. Perhaps a need to improve general health, to lose weight, to become more socially involved, to reduce stress or simply to prepare for a specific running event. There are a number of tactics that you could employ to help you, for example:
  • Meet like-minded people to run with at least once a week.
  • Surround yourself with inspiring books to increase your desire to succeed.
  • Keep a diary of your running to monitor your progress.
  • Acknowledge your weaknesses and get others to help you overcome them.
Set goals for yourself

Setting goals for yourself is crucial to motivation. This is a skill in itself, which usually needs to be practised to be mastered. First of all, it's best to set yourself a long-term goal, then establish some intermediate goals along the way to that goal. Finally, you can set some realistic short term goals that will build your motivation to move onto the next goal.
  • Set yourself a goal to train forSetting measurable training targets will allow you to monitor your progress on a weekly or monthly basis and boost your enthusisasm.
  • Specific goals are often the most motivating. For example, rather than just saying you will set a personal best over 5 km, set yourself a target to beat a personal best by 10 seconds.
  • Set time frames. For example, the 5 km personal best you set yourself must be achieved within six months. Leaving it open will encourage complacency and you may never achieve it.
  • Goals must of course be realistic so that they can be achieved, but don't make them too easily obtainable - that's boring!
  • Of course, adjust your goals accordingly if training is going well or you have an injury.
Record your progress

Keeping a diary of each run will provide feedback on past performance and encourage you to keep training. You could record times, pulse rates and any other statistics you like.
Set yourself an inspiring goal to train for
Summary
 
To help maintain motivation when you first start running:
  • Think about what's holding you back and how best to encourage yourself through the period of change required to get into a running routine.
  • Running with others can help you to stay motivated and improve your performance.
  • Setting goals for yourself and keeping a diary of your progress could help you stay motivated.

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