10 Guaranteed Ways To Burst With Motivation

Ever wondered how some people have a perpetually bright and enthusiastic running career? Here are their secrets...

Posted: 5 June 2002

1. Get into a routine
Resolve to run at the same time each day. In summer it might be the cool early mornings. In the colder, darker seasons it may be at lunchtime or after work or school. Pick a time that is free from interruptions, when you can relax and enjoy your running.

Once you’ve carved out slot to run, stick to it. You’ll feel better running on a regular basis rather than sporadically. In time, your mind will prepare you to run, and missing out on a run will begin to feel strange – a powerful incentive to get out there when your body is willing but your mind isn’t.

2. Keep a log
A well-kept logbook can be your greatest ally for reaching peak fitness, recording the highs and lows in your running career and being a great aid to motivation. The information you record is up to you, but normally includes training route, speed, distance, the weather and how you felt during and after the run. Some people also note what shoes they wore, their maximum heart-rate and how they compared with other runners. Women might record whether their running is influenced by their menstrual cycle.

3. Plan ahead
Get a calendar out and take some time to identify the most important part of your running and where you want to be with it in a year’s time. Consult the race diary on this site and mark a few target events on your calendar. Then plan a training programme accordingly.

If you find scenic runs more appealing, buy an Ordnance Survey map for your area and highlight a few trails you’ve yet to explore. Even consider driving a fair way, perhaps to an area of outstanding beauty where the surroundings can inspire you to run further or faster than you’d hoped.

4. Create variety
It’s easy to get into a rut with your training, especially if you’re spending too many days running the same route at the same pace. The solution is to plan a variety of training sessions a month in advance. Plan speedwork days. Plan long-run days. Plan to run a race. Plan days for rest, cross-training or quality time with your family. With greater variety and a plan, each run will have a purpose and won’t simply be a means of satisfying your training log. You’ll soon feel fresher, stronger and faster.

5. Stay flexible
It’s great to set and achieve goals, but staying mentally flexible is just as important. If you stay flexible you’ll be less likely to set yourself up for frustration or failure. Reassessing your goals is an important part of this. Clever and pragmatic is often better than tough. For example, if there is a gale-force wind on the day you’d planned for your track work, reschedule it.

If you progress quickly to achieving a long-term goal, consider setting yourself a tougher objective. Likewise, if another proves to be beyond you, scale it down to one that is more obtainable. Use your goals and programme as a guide; don’t become a slave to them.

6. Make running sociable
Running solo has its place, but if you want to be running this time next year, make sure your training brings you into contact with other people as well. Join a club, find a coach, explain to your non-running partner how important running is to you. Better still, persuade them to jog the warm-up and cool-down with you. Perhaps even your dog could become a training partner.

We are social animals and like to do things together. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t run alone and neither should we.

7. Make time to run
If you use lack of time as an excuse for not running, sit down and ask yourself a few questions. Am I really working all the time I say I’m working? Can I really not get up any earlier? Do I have to potter around the shops during my lunch hour? Between one o’clock and two the RUNNER’S WORLD office is deserted, as most days we use our lunch hour to run. Once we’re back and showered we grab lunch at our desks. Remember, there always are people more busy than yourself who still manage to run every day.

8. Be proud
One barrier that keeps many would-be runners indoors is self-consciousness. If you do feel embarrassed, pick an environment where others are exercising, such as a park, bike path or fitness centre. Remember, half of all runners are over the age of 40, and a third are women. And most of them were slow and overweight when they started.

So don’t let society’s notion of what an athlete is intimidate you. Remember the words of George Sheehan: “Everyone is an athlete: the only difference is that some of us are training, and some of us are not.”

9. Expect plateaus
Your initial gains in fitness come quickly. After all, everything you do is an improvement over what you were doing when you were sedentary. But after a while – it can be as little as two or three months – you’ll hit patches in which your improvements become increasingly hard to recognise. At times, you might feel as if you’re going backwards.

Plateaus are easy to explain; don’t let them get you down. The best weapon against them is patience. But also look at things that might be impairing your progression. Are you getting enough sleep? What food are you eating? Does your running lack variety?

10. Look forward to the golden years
Running is a marvellous way to diminish the effects of ageing. But over time the body eventually begins to slow, and as you get older, certain cautions are necessary. Instead of one day’s rest after a hard speed session or long run, you may need two days or more. You should be doubly careful to warm up and cool down.

One coach asked three runners in their 60s what they considered the key to their long running careers. Their answer: consistency. They had cut out speedwork and hill sessions, instead running the same distance each day, although varying the pace. Dull? No – clever. They knew that ultimately the secret of endurance is not getting injured.

Previous article
Half A Century Of Advice
Next article
Heart Rate Training - The Basics


Discuss this article

Please please please can anyone give me some motivation for my long run today...I am training for the GNR and have been doing lone runs of at least 8 miles but mostly 10 or 11 on sundays for what seems like forever and today i just want to NOT. Does anyone think i need a day off? I can't without feeling guilty.Heelllpppppppppp!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 11/08/2002 at 09:02

Jojo - I've just started running and I'm on for 5K today but from everything I've read and any advice I've been given is don't do it if your heart isn't in it... you're less likely to concentrate and more likely to get injured. Why don't you do something else instead..? Like maybe cycling, walking or a stint at the gym..? I know if I wasn't up for running later today - I wouldn't be doing it no matter what I was training for. You could even give yourself a weekend off if you train every weekend plus during the week... one day isn't going to hurt your training schedule.
Posted: 11/08/2002 at 09:51

Thanks Cath, I've read that advice aswell and i know its right but its hard not to run , it kind of a habit, anyway I'm cleaning my house, I've had a big sandwich and I'm feeling more and more like a run now so maybe i'll just change things around abit and do my run later, good luck with the 5k anyway and i hope you are enjoying your running. Its those good runs when you feel like you could run forever that make the bad runs ok and make it all worthwhile. I'm cheering myself up here!
Ciao for now - got to mop kitchen Floor
Posted: 11/08/2002 at 11:28

Hi jojo

Cath's right about one day not making that much differnce.
I'm training for GNR as well, and if there is any day I don't feel as good as I hoped, I just cut the run a bit short. There is no point pushing yourself too hard because you will only end injuring yourself, and lose a lot more time.
Also, if you do a shorter run, you won't feel as guilty as if you don't run at all.


Posted: 11/08/2002 at 18:02

I really didn't feel like going for my run today, but i told myself i'd just go out for 10 minutes and if i still felt down, i'd come home.... 10 minutes down the road i felt a lot perkier, ran past a long traffic jam for a local 'war games' day, got a wolf whistle or two from a pack of cyclists and ended up doing about 12.5 miles - i'd only planned 11. I'm glad i went out now.
Posted: 11/08/2002 at 20:13

Did you go in the end?
Sounds like you are a bit tough on yourself. I have the opposite problem, too easy on myself... Any tips for the mental attitude thing??!!
Reading the forums and seeing how much faster/longer/easier other people run seems to help... <sigh>
Posted: 11/08/2002 at 22:31

cheers you all, yes i went in the end, only did 6 miles - not enjoyable really but at least i did something, i'm having one of those off periods we runners/joggers/plodders get every now and again so i'm hoping my last week of reduced mileage has given me a break and i'll be back into it this week. Anyway commiserated with a few beers at local pub - must try harder!!!Well done Dangly spice, thanks Baz and Mungus only tips for mental attitude i can think off are that Pizza and those beers i had yesteday.

Posted: 12/08/2002 at 17:14

A trick I use on my long runs is to set the countdown timer on my watch rather than the stopwatch. Long runs seem to go much quick counting down to zero rather than counting up. Also stops the temptation of running longer than planned (as if!) and getting injured in the process. Works on my simple mind anyway!!! Anybody else do this?
Posted: 12/08/2002 at 17:27

Well done on getting out there - somedays the getting out takes far more strength than the being out. A 6 mile weekend run is a very reasonable session - after all it is 10k which many of us think of as a long run, certainly nothing to beat your self up over (delete the word 'only' from your thinking).
Good luck
Posted: 13/08/2002 at 09:39

Hi Nick, thanks v much for above , you are all sweeties!!!, Have done speed training today ok so back on target, hope everyone else doing ok.
Anyone need any motivation in future you know where to come....
Posted: 13/08/2002 at 18:50

On the topic of motivation, I could do swith some. I am training for my first race - a 10k in about 4 weeks and am up to about 6k. My problem is that I have some weeks where I run happily and really enjoy in and then the next week I wont do anything. Today I am going to try for another 6k.....but really can't face it, although I know I should.....any advice?
Posted: 24/05/2003 at 17:24

Just goes to show you're
a) human
b) the same as the rest of us. I know a guy who has been running for 40 yrs who describes the same feeling.

Stick with it because the buzz you'll get when you get the medal for your very first 10k will be great. On the day try to relax, enjoy yourself, don't dash off at the start, try to settle into a comfortable pace for yourself - not for anyone else, don't worry about passing people or them passing you.

You'll be fine, hope today's run went OK. Have a good one.
Posted: 24/05/2003 at 22:32

Nick, thanks for that - it is definitley comforting to here your advice and I cant wait to get my medal! I did manage to run yesterday and though I was planning on 6 k I went for 6.4, rewarded myself with far too much red wine last night - so am off out running today to make amends... Thanks again!
Posted: 25/05/2003 at 14:16

Laura - no such thing as too much red wine :)

glad it went well
Posted: 25/05/2003 at 14:57

help. why is that if i run for 30 mins i feel quite crappy but the longer i run the better i feel. it takes about 45 mins for me to get into my stride and then i can run for another 45 mins. i eat in time and hydrate myself( babanas,oats, sports drinks etc..)is it a drop in blood sugar after eating but i give myself 60-90 mins before i run to eat.or am i just wierd?
Posted: 19/06/2003 at 13:50

Mohina - that's normal. Starting off slower and building up the speed gradually might help. I'm the same - the first 30 mins or so are hell, then you get into a rhythm. You just have to warm up.
Posted: 19/06/2003 at 13:53

cheers! i thoght that was the case. i do star off SLOW i couldn't be fast even if i tried but i think i just a bit too excited running and just go off so the rule is that i must learn to pace myself and save the adrenalin for the later section of my run!
Posted: 19/06/2003 at 13:59

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.