13 Tips on Staying Motivated
Updated: Jan 17, 2019
You did it! 2018 is behind you and you have started 2019 with new found energy, motivation and good intentions. But as the weeks go by and the darkness of winter remains, the motivation you had at the start of the year begins to falter. Motivating yourself gets a little harder. Your goal suddenly starts to feel less appealing and the 'doing' starts becoming more challenging. You find yourself trying to talk yourself out of doing it. In fact, Strava predicts 18th of January 2018 to be the day most people are likely to give up, whilst Monday 21st is the all looming 'blue Monday'
Let's look past these predictions and labels. Your motivation levels may be hitting an all time low, but don't worry - this is normal They just need a bit of TLC.
In relation to running (which can be extended to most physical activities and indeed lots of other scenarios in life) here are a few tips on how to stay motivated:
1. Have a (realistic) GOAL
Having a race to train towards or a PB that you want to achieve - means you have to plan a training program and track your progress. There is an aim to all your hard work and your training has a PURPOSE. Every time you go out to run, there is a purpose behind the run and a sense of achievement once completed. Make sure the goal is REALISTIC (e.g. don't aim to run a marathon in 3 months if you have never run before. Small steps.)
2. Quality NOT quantity
Think about your training program and think about WHY you are doing a particular session. A good program is not about cramming in as many runs in a week. It’s about making each run count. It also means each run will have a purpose and you can cut out those junk miles.
3. Change your scenery
Running the same route over and over again WILL get boring! Physically - it is more beneficial to run on different terrains, allowing your body to use a different set of muscles each time you go out running. Psychologically - knowing the route inside out can get very mundane and boring. Not good for those motivational levels. Try and run somewhere different at least once a week!
4. Listen to your iPod
Music, podcasts, books, debates - anything that might take your mind off your running. For some people this really helps. They need to feel distracted and for those longer lonely runs, it can be quite motivating when your favorite song suddenly blasts through your headphones. I have always listened to my playlist when running a marathon, and I have to say that the songs definitely helped me get through that pain barrier!
5. DON’T listen to your iPod
The opposite is also very true. Don’t run with your iPod. Tune in to your breath, your body, and your form. Take in the moment of being in the now and the landscape you are in. Connect with all your senses e.g. what can you see; what can you hear; what can you smell; what can you feel (be mindful). You may have heard of a ‘runners high’ – synonymous to an endorphin rush. Indeed a lot of research has been done around this.
“Sparling et al.’s found that a “runner’s high is more than a simple surge in one chemical in the brain; it’s a complex dance of psychoactive compounds released in response to exercise that boost your mood, raise your energy level, yet also relieves anxiety and makes you feel calm and relaxed”
6. Tap into your COMPETITVE ENERGY
We all have the potential to be competitive. If you run in a group you may have someone in mind that you admire – find your competitive edge and feel that desire to beat them in the next race. Alternatively, your competitiveness might just be with yourself! Time your runs or races, and tap into your desire to improve and achieve better times. The hunger to improve and challenge yourself is a great little motivational boost.
7. Find your PASSION
What are you passionate about? This is really important and for some people, running simply isn’t their thing and so staying motivated becomes a mammoth task and challenge and can be really demoralizing. Don’t be afraid to try lots of different physical activities before you find the one that appeals to you. We encourage our children to try different activities – so why can’t we? Who knows? There may be a budding cyclist, gymnast or swimmer inside you rearing to go! If we are passionate about something we are more likely to stay motivated!
8. Find a TRAINING BUDDY
What better way to keep you on track than a friend or training buddy? Sometimes running and training with other people is a great incentive to stay on track. Running with someone means you make an additional commitment to someone other than yourself. You can encourage and motivate each other and running with someone means you can talk while running, which will make the run seem so much easier and quicker.
9. Mental and physical FITNESS AND HEALTH
Have I mentioned all the physical and psychological benefits of running? There are so many to even begin listing here – but when your motivation starts to flounder think of this:
PHYSICAL: potential weight loss, improved cardiovascular fitness, improved respiratory health, reduced blood cholesterol, strengthening of bones, boosting your immune system, reversing effects of ageing, improved body composition and increased metabolism to name a few.
PSYCHOLOGICAL: running has shown to improve self esteem, confidence and overall wellbeing. It is frequently being recommended as therapy for people with clinical depression and those coping with addiction. England Athletics recently launched Mental health Ambassador programme only goes to show how powerful the positive effects of running can be.
There is no greater CONFIDENCE BOOST than reaching those milestones! Make sure you recognise each of your achievements and make sure you set small goals along the way so you can celebrate once they have been reached! E.g. if your goal is to run 5km without walking – celebrate each 1km achievement. And there is no better feeling in the world than crossing that finish line of your first race, be it 5km, 10km, half a marathon or a full marathon.
Positive Mental Attitude – how easy it would be if we could just remember these simple 3 letters! But it really is. Positive thinking may not always come naturally to you – and we are always very eager to focus on the negatives or on what we haven’t achieved or what we think we can’t do.
Start tapping into a life of positive thinking by focusing on what you HAVE ACHIEVED in life. This doesn’t have to be major achievements at all. Think of how far you have come and all you have been through. Think of all the amazing roles you play each day as daughter, son, mum, dad, a partner to someone, a full or part time worker. Your study, your career, your passions and the goals you have achieved.
Then translate that into your physical fitness E.g. Don’t focus on not having run the planned 10k in your program – focus on what you DID achieve so - I RAN TODAY. Or even smaller achievements; I got my trainers out and put them on (for some this can be a very big achievement)
No one won a race by turning up to the start line thinking “I’m NOT going to win”. More people achieved PBs and won races by believing that they could.
12. DEDICATION and COMMITMENT
This again is true to all areas of life. Think about the last time you felt this. Was it something you really wanted? Was it passing that driving test? Was it getting that grade at university? Was it being there for your children through thick and thin? We can ALL be DEDICATED and COMMITTED if we really put our heart and soul into it. So how do you translate that into running motivation?
Make that commitment to yourself. Make sure running is one of the points at the top of your priority list and schedule it into your daily/ weekly routine. Make sure you STICK to the schedule for at least 6 weeks after which it will start feeling like part of your routine and you have given it that status and importance.
13. REWARD yourself
After all, you worked really hard and rewards can also double up as an incentive. One idea is to pay yourself £1 after each run. Depending on how often you run, you should have a nice little lump sum of money towards the end of the year - to treat yourself to a new pair of trainers of course!
The BIG SECRET to staying MOTVATED is….
There are NO SECRETS! Keeping fit and staying fit, just like any other goal you may have in life, takes hard work and dedication! Expect pain, tears, challenges and self-doubting talk along the way. This is all part of the process. No one said it was easy. But there is one thing I can promise you. There is nothing more amazing, sweeter, overwhelming or a greater confidence booster than knowing you have achieved your goal. You crossed that finish line. You achieved that PB. You did something that you never thought you could! So……
DON’T GIVE UP! Keep on going, knowing that every step you take on your journey, will make you believe in you, just a little bit more!
YOU ARE CAPABLE OF MUCH MORE THAN YOU THINK