Training Articles

Finding the Motivation to Run

Go out and play...like you were young again

Go out and play...like you were young again I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of an 8 year-old again. I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four star restaurant. I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them. I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again. I want to go out and run and play.
---Anonymous

It happens to all of us. You've planned a run or walk, just a simple 5-miler, and you just plain don't feel like going at it. Doesn't matter that it's a beautiful day. It's not that you have to go to Kroger, do laundry, attend two baseball games, and walk the dog. Today, you have no excuses. Frankly, you just don't want to do it. All of the sudden, running became an obligation; an exercise-- and you aren't having any fun at it. How do you find the motivation today?

Here's an idea: Why can't we be more like kids again and treat it like play? Why did we grow up so fast that we made running a chore to be endured? Have you ever heard a kid say, "I'm exhausted from playing. I think I need to lie down?" Remember when we jumped and ran and played forever? There was hopscotch and hula-hoops, kickball and dodge ball, mother may I?

Did you run through the sprinkler or catch lightening bugs in a jar? It was hard to keep up with those bugs. So what happened?

I hope these tips help make running more fun again...

  • Run like a kid — Set no time, distance, pace or route. Leave your watch on the kitchen table and go run. Run down whatever street you want to. Run fast and run slow. Stop to take a drink at a water fountain in Hyde Park Square or to enjoy a scenic view in Ault Park. There are no rules.
  • Think about how good you'll feel — Most of us have never gone on a run we've regretted. Think about how you'll feel at the end of a run. You're renewed, energetic, and happy. You've won.
  • Find a friend — Sometimes it's more fun to run with other people. You can share stories or silence. You know that they are depending on you to meet them and some days you need them as well.
  • Bargain with yourself — When all else falls, strike a deal with yourself. Say, "Okay self, I'll go for a run, but if I feel awful after one mile then I'm turning around and coming home." This helps take the pressure off. You haven't set yourself up for failure. Not surprisingly, most times you end up enjoying the run and hanging out longer than you expected.
  • Choose a Fun Route — You're typical loop around the neighborhood could be boring you to death. You know every sidewalk crack. You know the people who never cut their bushes. You even know the bus drivers who cruise by. No more. Plan a new tour. There are so many parks and shady streets. There are hilly runs and flat runs, noisy and quiet. What are you in the mood for?
  • Don't be daunted by the weather — If it's raining, look forward to jumping in puddles, and a cool rain on a hot day can be invigorating. If it's hot, think about a cold refreshing shower or swim afterwards? You will not melt.
  • Keep a training log — Use a special running log, a journal or your computer to write down what you hope to do for, say, every day for the next two weeks. Then each day, record what you did, how it felt, whom you were with and more. This is one of those "guilt methods" of motivating yourself. It's hard to look at a week of blank pages.
  • Set goals — What are you chasing after? It could be losing weight, running a marathon or getting in shape for a hiking vacation through the South of France.
  • Mix it Up — Are you running the same five miles at the same pace every day? How about changing the distance and the pace? Maybe incorporate some cross training like biking, weight lifting, tennis or swimming.
  • Take a rest day — Take at least one day of total rest each week. It gives your body a break and leaves you feeling fresher for your next run.

Life is too complicated to make running yet another obligation. Find that childlike spirit again--when you used to run till you were out of breath and laugh so hard that your stomach hurt.