Some may say you only need a beating heart and a pair of sneakers to start running. To me, it’s bigger than that. You also need motivation, which is not always easy to find.
I’ve really been enjoying my summertime hiatus, both from regular blogging and from regular training. I’ve been going with the flow: one week I will work out five times, the next week not at all. I am eating healthy again now that I’m not “rungry” all the time. I’ve been binge-watching The Good Wife and trying not to wish the summer away even though I’m excited for fall, my favourite season.
Despite not being much of a runner or blogger lately, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about this space since I published my marathon race recap. I usually don’t share my blog among my family and friends (anxiety will do that to you!) but I chose to share that post with my run club and everyone was very supportive. A couple of friends have been training for their own first marathons and I am happy to hear about their progress and share in the excitement that you can only get from tackling such a big, scary goal.
Recently I was asked to speak at my local Running Room to a Learn to Run clinic. The group started from scratch and will be running their first 5K race in September. I did the same program back in 2011, before I had this blog.
My talk was about my journey from being sedentary and overweight to running a marathon within three years. I mostly focused on motivational tips — which was a little funny considering just a few weeks ago I was in a slump, feeling at a loss as to how to get back into running and find that spark again.
Thankfully, several of my Facebook friends helped me out when I posted a status looking for advice. That’s item number one: Find a support network that believes in what you’re doing and helps motivate you in a positive way.
Here are a few other tips I passed on during my clinic talk:
Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. I used to be TERRIBLE for this. If I couldn’t run a fast 5K — I shouldn’t do one at all. If I hadn’t run X number of half-marathons — I shouldn’t do a marathon. It’s not all or nothing. Just take the training plan one day at a time. If I listened to my all-or-nothing thinking, or even to the naysayers, I’d never get off the couch.
Believe you can do it. Sounds simple, but … at one point in my life I truly felt it was impossible to run five kilometres, let alone more than 42. But eventually, by taking things one day at a time, it became a little more attainable. Once things got a bit easier I was able to look back on the progress I had made and that helped me realize even more progress was possible for my future. Eventually the “lightbulb” went off in my head that I was absolutely CAPABLE of doing longer distances, even if I couldn’t do them right then I knew I could had something to work towards. Believing it’s possible is half the battle.
Develop your mental toughness. A couple of years ago I realized that if I relaxed while running and thought positively, I could actually reduce the amount of pain I was in while running. The stress was making my chest tight and the run wasn’t enjoyable — I just wanted it over with. I posted about it here. I recommend practising keeping the negative thoughts out so you can do the same during a race. I also like creating mantras that are simple and easy to repeat in my mind when the going gets tough during a hard training run or at the end of a race.
And a few other motivational tips from my brilliant Facebook friends:
- Buy new running clothes
- Start with a small distance and still count it as a success
- Go Garmin-free
- Take a break and do something else to stay fit
- Set a long-term goal
- Run with a new running group
- Read this article from Runner’s World