Staying motivated in running
Step 1 - Understanding negative thought patterns
Even the most avid runner will sometimes think of a dozen reasons why they can't go out for their daily run, putting it off until tomorrow. This could be because the stress of everyday life causes us to anticipate the extra stress of exercise, and try to avoid it.
Step 2 - Take small steps to achieve your goal - getting out the door
You know if you run you'll feel better, you just need to get out the door
However you know that if you run you will feel better, you just need to get out the door. Mind games will energise the brain and give you the push you need to put on your running shoes.
- Take the stress out of going for a run by telling yourself that no run is that important, and missing it is not a disaster.
- Do not tell yourself that missing that run will set you back, or that you are failing in your efforts as this can make self motivation harder.
- On your way home from work, grab a high-energy snack: an energy bar, a banana or some toast. Listen to some music while eating; music has positive associations and helps make you feel good.
- Get out of those work clothes and put on your running kit; it is, after all, the most comfortable clothing you have.
- Go outside, get something from the car, take the dog into the garden or water the plants. You will find the weather is not as bad as your brain was telling you!
- Keep your trainers on and head off down the road: after a couple of minutes you will wonder why you didn't go straight out in the first place.
Just get out of the door, you'll enjoy it when you get there!
You will find the more you practice this routine when you are struggling to go out for a run, the easier it will become.
Step 3 - Beat the routine
Sometimes the problem is not getting out the door, but occurs once you are down the road following a well-trodden route you have been running for the past couple of weeks.
After training a while, you can be in better physical shape but your times getting slower. Your mind could be fatigued and in need of some mental revitalisation!
- Leave the watch at home. Just for a week or so continue to do the same runs, but do not worry about how fast you are running.
- By doing this you release the built-up stress of your imagined declining fitness. As long as you are out running, your physical condition will be maintained.
- Use some visualisation while you are on the run. Imagine and consequently experience a smooth, well oiled running style: long stride, strong arm action and effortless bounce.
Concentrating on certain body parts while running can engage your focus and relax the body.
Step 4 - Positive reinforcement
- Begin the run with a body part in mind, for example today's run will focus on arm movement. Over-exaggerate the arm action slightly, and focus on bringing it through more quickly and purposefully.
- Concentrating on one part of the body encourages the rest of the body to flow naturally through the motion of running, with greater emphasis and vigour.
Just put your running kit on - it's the most comfortable clothing you have...
Positive reinforcement involves focussing on the positive aspects of a situation. This can help in the worst conditions on any training run. When on a difficult run, instead of focusing on the negatives, talk to yourself about the positives.
Step 5 - Lying to your mind
- When you find yourself struggling tell yourself: 'This is what makes me a real runner, I can get through anything,' or, 'I will be stronger having finished this run'.
- What you are doing is banishing the negative and empowering yourself to succeed against all challenges.
Another technique that works for some people is lying to the mind. If there is a particular aspect of training that you dislike and always seem to struggle to complete, then simply lie to yourself.
- For example, someone who dislikes running hills can over a period of time grow to like them, by telling themselves over and over that they love running hills.
- Doing this before going out and running can have significant effects.
Mark is a world-class athlete and Olympian. He has represented Great Britain in the marathon at the Sydney Olympics and was top British athlete at the London Marathon over 3 consecutive years from 2000 to 2002 - reaching 6th position! He's an expert in all aspects of distance running and has used his expertise to inspire and develop runners of varying abilities.
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