Running is a lot of fun. But let’s face it, from time to time it looses its flavor and our motivation to train begins to fade.
According to the Hanson Marathon Method, consistency is one of the five components to improving running ability. So a lack of motivation, whether because of life events or our own minds, can lead to inconsistencies and not putting in our daily dose of pavement pounding.
Not to worry, though. There are many tried and true methods to staying focused. Here are five practical tips I use to keep on task, even when things get tough.
- Set new goals. If you find yourself in a running slump, it may be time to set a new goal. If you are a 5K runner, step up to the 10K distance. Or, instead of working to run farther, work on running faster for a while. Whatever the goal, it should present you with a challenge that will keep your mind and body engaged.
- Think about the long-term. Sometimes the daily grind of running starts to wear me down and I just want to throw in the towel. When that happens, I try to focus on my long-term goals and priorities. For me, that means staying in shape so that when opportunities to go on crazy outdoor adventures pop-up, I am ready. For you, maybe it is eventually qualifying for Boston or running a 5K PR. Whatever it is, focus on that goal to pull you through the dry spells.
- Variety is the spice of life. If you just cannot run one more step, then don’t. But do not stop training. Go for a swim, hop on your bike or go rock climbing. Pick another sport that will make your body stronger, work a different set of muscles or challenge your cardiovascular system. That said, try not to stay away from running for too long. Specificity in training is an important factor and if you stray for too long, you will start to lose your running fitness.
- Find a friend. Sharing the experience of running with someone else is one of the best ways to stick to your training. A friend will help get you out the door on those days you’re lacking motivation and vice-versa. Plus, once you start running with others, you will find many new friendships. I should know. In addition to the many close friends I have made along my running journey, I also fell in love with my wife through running.
- Take a break. Training year round can become very monotonous after a while and sometimes it is okay to just take a break. Taking a break will allow your mind and body to rest and recharge. Use the time off to focus on new goals, cross train and reflect on where you are at in your running. You should plan ahead of time how long you will take off and be sure not to take longer than two weeks.
Remember, consistency in training is an important part of the puzzle to improving your run. Next time you hit a wall, I hope you will find one (or all) of these pointers helpful in keeping you motivated and on schedule. Now go run!