COLUMN: Road to the Marathon/ Staying motivated is a struggle

In Columns, Fitness, Sports

“When are you going to run today?”

It’s a constant question that my mind asks itself. And for at least half the day, excuses serve as answers.

“Well, I can’t run in the morning, its too cold.”

“I’m too tired to run after work.”

“I haven’t eaten yet so I won’t have the energy to put in mileage.”

The list goes on and on. It’s an unvoiced fight that echoes through the minds of all runners.

Staying motivated during a training schedule is hard. Even after running almost daily for nine years, I still struggle pulling myself out of bed in the morning to greet the cold air. My space heater, a full pot of coffee and a morning email/Facebook crawl are much more appealing alternatives.

After work, I want nothing more than to delve into the contents of my pantry and take a short nap. Even a step into the kitchen is a risk. I force myself to go straight into my room, change into running clothes, drink a glass of water and leave before food or sleep beckons me.

My failures have been plenty. I have gotten lost in bag of potato chips and ranch dip. I’ve fallen into the heavenly abyss of an afternoon nap. I’ve been tied up all day in the bliss of black coffee, breakfast and procrastination.

I’ve bargained with myself, reassuring my running-guilt complex, “don’t worry, I’ll run later.”

Over time, I found ways to fight the procrastination. While they aren’t guaranteed, they can be powerful if developed.

Set a deadline

One of my favorite ways to motivate myself to run, is to set an imaginary deadline for myself. I tell myself that I have to run by a certain time, and that I can do anything prior as long as I run at that time. It also sets a limit to my procrastination.

Change the music

Over the years, I have found that listening to music is one of the best ways to motivate myself to run. While some may argue that listening to music while running can force athletes at an uneven pace, it’s difficult to find the motivation to run alone without it.

I find that my motivation wanes when my music gets stale. In order to avoid this, I make sure that I spend time every couple weeks to change my running playlist. Usually I spend half an hour picking out the songs that I know will get me moving.

Afterward, I find that running becomes much more appealing.

Get the ball rolling

One of the best way to force myself to run, is to simply change into running clothes. This may seem like a small step, but it gets the psychological ball rolling. From this small change, I can easily develop the motivation to put on my shoes, plug in my iPod and finally to step out the door.

Before I know it, I’m two miles in.

Make a bargain

This may carry a bad connotation in regards to grieving process, but it’s certainly helpful in running motivation. By telling myself that I can relax, make dinner or watch a movie after I run, it becomes much easier to get outside and on the road.

Call in all the reinforcements

This is the best way to motivate yourself to run. By finding a friend to run with, you are held accountable to meet your buddy at a designated time and to complete the run. Its also nice to have some company on long runs, especially if they border or exceed the two-hour mark.

By using these methods and maybe even developing your own, you’ll be able to complete the training required of your regimen and subsequently reach your fitness goals.

The first steps of a run are the hardest. Like many things in life, once you develop enough psychological and physical momentum to go running, the rest is easy.

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