Running has never been easy for me, and it never will be. But I’ve found my reasons and inspiration to keep going, and I hope that this post will help some of you to do the same! In my opinion, running is 80% mental and 20% physical. If you don’t have the mental stamina to push through your daily workouts, the physical aspect of it will never really come into play. So here are some of my tips/tricks that I’ve learned over the years that continue to motivate me to put on my running shoes every day.
This is probably the most important–it’s the foundation of your motivation. Whether it’s the medal of a half-marathon race or a 5 lb. weight loss goal, you gotta have something to work towards…something to keep you going. For me, I like to find scenic races…with a good-looking finisher shirt 😉 Races always give me something to work towards, and finding different races with varying distances keeps things interesting. I know I’m not racing to “win”, but it’s a way more official way to compete with myself. Yeah, you don’t need an official race to improve your PR, but I love the rush of adrenaline that kicks in when I’m running alongside other people–especially towards the end of a race. And when you finish that race, it’s a feeling unlike any other. That’s what I run for. When I crossed the finish line of my half-marathon race, I was almost near tears. It’s a much more emotional experience than you’d expect. In that moment, you see how all of your hard work and training have paid off, and you realize that the sacrifices you made were 100% worth it. That’s the kind of finish you want to have. You don’t want to cross the finish line shrugging your shoulders. You’ll feel like crap next to all the runners who gave it their all, and you also just wasted your $80 race fee.
This one I definitely learned the hard way. When I was training for my very first 5k race, I decided to run 3 miles on the first day. The race was still 2 months away and the furthest I had ever run at that point was a mere 1.2 miles. I finished my workout that day feeling extremely discouraged and incompetent (I had to stop at 1.8 ish miles cause I was about to faint), and I almost withdrew from the race right then and there. So don’t do what I did…don’t set yourself up for failure. Be reasonable with your goals. I start off with a tentative training plan, and I adjust it as I go. You want to make sure that you’re always challenging yourself, but you don’t want to set the bar too high. But challenging yourself is a must, so once you’ve got a routine, STICK TO IT. Find a running buddy if you have to; then you can hold each other accountable. It’s a lot easier to get up early in the morning when you know that someone else is waiting for you.
This goes hand in hand with the previous one. Once you set your goals, you want to make sure that you’re reaching them. I keep a calendar chart documenting all my distances and respective times. Don’t forget to reward yourself every now and then–it helps with the motivation! For example, I set speed goals for different distances when I was training for the half-marathon. Every time I reached one I would treat myself to something small (running gear, a manicure, a nice meal, etc.). I find that rewarding yourself helps you set realistic goals, because believe me, you’ll feel extremely guilty if you know you’ve been slacking.
This one applies more to people who are running to lose weight. You need to EAT. And eat well! Your body is going to start building more muscle, and you’ll need more calories to fuel that muscle, so it’s normal to start eating more. You might also put on some weight, but that’s muscle, not fat! So don’t go starving your body when it’s asking for more energy. Your diet will affect how you feel on your runs. Carbs are great for long runs. They’ll keep your muscles energized. Try to stay away from too much red meat–they’re high in fat and calories but are not an efficient energy source for your muscles. And most importantly, stay hydrated!! Drink lots and lots of water throughout the day. You’ll start to know what your body likes and doesn’t like as you run more, but listen to it and don’t starve yourself!
Hope you guys found those tips helpful! I’ll be writing another post later on about my favorite running-related products. In the meantime, if you guys have any additional tips that have helped you in your running journey, I’d love to hear them!