From time to time everyone struggles for motivation, from the newest runner training for their first 5 or 10km, to the seasoned ultra-marathoner, and everyone in between. Perhaps particularly everyone in between. For me, a lack of motivation tends to often tie in with lack of time. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by working, and studying and/or any of the other countless necessities of life, I find myself feeling demotivated. It’s easy to convince yourself that running isn’t a priority and that you can’t afford to take time out from your overflowing schedule to head out on to the streets. I’m aware that this is pretty ridiculous on several levels; Not only is running (or any form of exercise) a form of taking care of yourself, it is also a means of doing something for yourself which you enjoy. (Or at least, I hope it is!) And both these things are, or at least should be, or utmost importance to everyone, and an absolute priority.
What can you do to combat this lack of motivation though? Well, I’m pretty sure that every runner is different and there’s never going to be a one-type-fits-all style solution. However, I’ve noticed a few things that often help improve my state of mind, reinvigorate my energy and drive and get me back out there pounding pavements with renewed vigour. ‘What are these things?’ I hear you cry. Well, dearest reader, they are as follows:
- Put together a banging new playlist. To run with music or not with music is a topic of much debate amongst the running community. For me personally, I’m a music convert. And by that I mean I can’t run without it. I find the chaos of my own thoughts combined with the volume of my laboured breathing entirely deafening. I’ve put together many a running playlist over the past few years, but most of these I tire of fairly quickly, so nothing refreshes my running mojo like a new playlist of tunes. A great beat helps, inspire and motivate me and encourages me to dig deep. If you’re looking for song-spiration, five (plus a bonus track) of my favourite songs to run to are below:
- One Way or Another – Blondie
- Hungry like a Wolf – Duran Duran
- Echo Beach – Martha and the Muffins
- Jerk it Out – The Caesars
- Rock Star – N.E.R.D (Unless your run is still miles from being ‘almost over now, almost over now’ in which case it may have a detrimental affect!)
- Eye of the Tiger – Survivor. This is my bonus track: A runner’s cliché and a classic! Does anyone actually not have this on their playlist? Seriously?
- Mix it up. Check out a part of town you’ve not visited before, head on down past that new restaurant you’ve wanted to check out and see how it’s looking from the outside, or just step out of your door and run, and run, and run, as far as you want to or as far as you can, with no agenda, no destination, no route or target speed in mind. Do some interval training, practise hill running. Whatever it is, do it for the fun of it, give it all that you can or all that you want to. It really doesn’t matter, so long as you try something different. Have fun, be free and fall back in love with running.
- Find a run buddy. Generally speaking I’m a solo runner, as running tends to comprise the increasingly fleeting moments of my week when I am alone. Running gives me space, and the rare opportunity to be alone with myself and my thoughts. However, sometimes company is just what is needed to get me started. A bit of healthy competition, someone to keep pace with, someone to push you to go further. As a competitive type I know I’d not let myself give in ahead of schedule or be left too far behind. My favourite person to run with is my boyfriend, and whilst we have very different running styles, he provides me with a constant source of encouragement and/or (usually) decent banter!
- Seize that weather window. UK weather is changeable and unpredictable at the best of times, so when you see a scenario outside your window that whets your running appetite, don’t wait, go for it then and there. Personally, I loved the weather we had in London this weekend. Bright sunshine, warmer than it has been, but still with a crisp winter chill in the air. For me, this symbolises ideal running weather, and I was determined to make the most of it before the window closed. I imagine many people thought likewise, but it doesn’t always have to be brilliant sunshine that gets you going. Last Tuesday evening I was inspired to go for a run when my spinning class was cancelled last minute. I had changed into my gym gear and mentally braced myself for a gruelling workout. It was a horrible evening, bitterly cold with pouring rain. But I was determined. I would still get some exercise. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to head out in to the howling wind and icy rain, and believe you me, I’d have rather been enjoying the creature comforts of my local gym whilst working up a sweat, but I knew these weather conditions would make me run extra faster (the sooner you start and the faster you go, the sooner it ends!) and that when I arrived back at my flat ready for a hot dinner and warm bath I would feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. And rightly so, I did.
- Try an alternative form of exercise. Want to workout but perhaps you’re injured, or perhaps, for whatever reason, running just isn’t doing it for you right now. Well, that’s okay. There are plenty of other enjoyable ways of getting quality exercise until you rediscover your running mojo. I mentioned spinning above, which is something I try to do on a weekly basis. I’m also a massive convert of indoor bouldering which has really helped me when it comes to building up strength. These days visiting the multi-coloured playground of the local climbing centre is one of the most fun ways I can imagine spending a weekend evening or afternoon and always provides a challenging physical and mental workout. I also try to incorporate body weight exercises in to my training several times a week. This is just what works for me and what I enjoy, but really when it comes to sport and fitness your options are endless.
- Take some time off. From time to time we just need to, pure and simple, take some time out. There’s no avoiding this and sometimes no explaining this, but it happens and that’s okay. And for me at least, nothing makes me feel motivated to go for a run quite like not having been on one for a while!