“I like running, I can just never stick with it.”
Sound like you? If so, you’re not a lone. Running can be tough to stick with, especially during the dark and cold winter months. Or ever.
I was never a runner growing up. I was never a runner in college. You couldn’t entice me with all the chocolate cake in the world to run over three miles. I was a theatre kid and the only physical activity I did were jazz hands and kick-lines.
But one day during my recovery from an eating disorder, I was feeling so anxious and overwhelmed that I laced up my sneakers and ran out the front door, only to return 5 miles later out of breath and a tad confused, because, like, I didn’t know legs could move that fast for that long.
That run changed my life, and today I run marathons. So, heck, if I can do it, so can you.
And there are many, many days where I just plain don’t feel like running. But I do it anyways.
Here’s what motivates me to keep running:
Running With Intention
That five mile run happened because I didn’t know how to work through the anxiety I was feeling, but what I found was that my racing body finally matched my racing mind, and when my mind and body were on the same level, I found peace. I remember repeating the mantra, “Don’t look back. You’re not going that way anymore.”
Little did I know that that run would shape how I approached running from there on out. Because I struggle with anxiety (a lot less frequently since I’ve started running, but it still happens), my runs act as a release of all those tangled emotions. But even if I’m not anxious or feeling down, I be sure to set an intention and visualize my run before I head out.
What does this mean? Here are some examples:
- This run, I’m going to focus on running slow and steady, but further than I went last time.
- This run, I’m going to remember my friend Jess and pray for her as she’s going through this difficult time.
- This run, I’m going to listen to this awesome new playlist I created.
It’s your intention, so take it wherever you need it to go. But make sure to consistently bring yourself back to that intention throughout your run.
I’m a pretty dedicated solo-runner, but running buddies help in all sorts of ways. First, they hold you accountable. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to cancel a run or workout, but that little text from a friend counting on me pushes me to lace up my sneakers and head out the door.
Second, they listen to you. Running and talking is a skill I am still trying to master, but the conversations I’ve had while running have been some of the deepest and therapeutic conversations I’ve ever had.
Third, they push you. How many times have you been in a group workout and have pushed yourself a little harder or further because you knew other people were watching? A little healthy competition never hurt anyone…
Setting Long Term Goals
One time during my senior year in college, I went on an interview at the Lululemon retail store near me hoping to land a job post-college. I had just finished my thesis to receive my B.A. in English and was wrestling with the reality that the real world didn’t care if I could write in iambic pentameter or find the commonalities between Ann Sexton and Sylvia Plath’s poetry.
I was exhausted and weary as my boyfriend at the time dropped me off at the mall. A retail job? I just presented my 35 page thesis to a panel of English professors. I got this.
I didn’t get the job. (Probably because of my lack of sleep and pretentious attitude. Thank you for the much needed dose of humility, Lululemon.)
But I did tell them one of my goals was to run a full marathon one day. That was five years ago. And today I’m still working towards that goal. It keeps me going and every race I train for, I know I’m one step closer to reaching that goal.
Your goals may be completely different, but whatever they are keep them close to your heart.
Cool Running Gear
Sometimes all I need is a new piece of running gear to amp up my motivation level. Here’s what I’ve been using recently.
Foam rolling isn’t fun and it hurts, but it works. I use a Pro-Tec Athletics foam roller… and yes, it’s pink. But any foam roller will do.
I run in Sauconys. Previously a Brooks girl, this past year I switched over to Sauconys and they’ve really helped my running. Every person’s foot is different, so what works for me, may not work for you. Check out your local running store to get fitted properly.
I’m a bit biased, because I’m one of their Ambassadors, but Feetures running socks are phenomenal, and they have so many options. The High-Performance Cushion style is my absolute favorite. They also have socks for plantar fasciitis, which work like a dream.
For the winter months, gloves with the ability to text and use your phone are crucial. They’re cheap and worth it.
Time For Me
I’m an extroverted introvert, believe it or not. I crave running alone, because it gives me time to disconnect, recharge, and spend time with myself. Knowing that I have a run planned where I can break away from the real world for a bit helps me look forward to the run, as opposed to dreading it.
Bonus: Set Yourself Up For Success
This is pretty straight forward. Set yourself up for success. If you know you have a long run in the morning, don’t go out drinking. Fuel properly. Stay hydrated. Get enough sleep. Do the things you know will help you be successful before, during, and after your runs. That’ll give you the confidence and motivation to keep going.