Saturday, May 14, 2011

How To Motivate Yourself For A Run

This post isn't about how to go for your first EVER run - I honestly have no idea how that started. It was something I was always going to do tomorrow, but tomorrow never came. Then one day I found myself in my running gear outside doing stretches, and before I even knew what was happening, I was running! Not very far or fast to start with, but I'd started!

This post will be about how I make myself go for a run on those days when its really the last thing I want to do. There are always days like that, especially after a good weigh-in, when you think you can do without it for a change. 

FIRST THINGS FIRST - I need my iPod when I run. Partly its the distraction, partly the fact that it makes the time go faster, and partly the fact that a regular beat or rhythm helps me sync my paces and breathing. I know some people run on machines at home or at the gym, so you can probably make do with background music or TV, but if you hit the streets like me, a little music goes a long way!

Now, as I've said before, my current route is 4 miles long, or about 6.5 kms. Sometimes the prospect of doing that seems dreadful, so I break it down into small, manageable steps, almost to 'trick' myself into doing the distance! Here's how.

- Just do your warm-ups. Don't fancy a run? Feeling stiff and awkward and tired? That's ok, you don't have to run - just do your warm-ups! I find that stretching out my muscles helps to wake me up, raises my heart-rate just a little, and generally makes the idea of a run slightly less horrendous than when I've just tumbled out of bed.

- Just put your running gear on. Still don't fancy that run? Then don't think about it. Just put your gear on. I know this sounds silly, but sometimes I literally have to just say to myself 'I'm just getting dressed, even you aren't too lazy for that!'

- Just go get some fresh air. I'm all geared up, but the thought of running 4 miles still seems awful. That's ok, just pop outside and get some fresh air! No harm in that...

All this just to actually get me out of the house and ready to run! Its not always this hard of course, but as someone who spent years with absolutely no exercise, I still have to sometimes take myself by the scruff of the neck (a bizarre image - who's grabbing whom?), and force myself to not be a lazy so-and-so!

By this stage I'm outside, warmed up and in my running gear, and some mornings that's enough - I can almost go through these stages on autopilot, so that before I've had time to weigh the pros and cons of having a run, I'm already outside and ready to go.

Another useful 'trick' I use is the fact that my 4-mile route has the shape of two figures-of-8. From my starting point, I basically do 4 loops, each a mile long, that bring me back to where I started after each mile. 

The benefit of this is that I don't have to muster the enthusiasm for a 4-mile run. I can tell myself that if I want to, I only have to do one mile, and then I can quit. Heck, I can even say only do a half-mile. By that stage, its a half-mile to home, so I might as well run back. By then, I've warmed up and I'm into my music, so just one more mile doesn't sound so bad (boom, 2 miles). By this stage, if I feel like quitting, I can tell myself that if I just do half the distance again, I'll have gone three miles. And THEN, once I reach the 3-mile point, I use the first trick again, and say 'just add another half-mile'. Once that's done, there's only a half-mile left until I'm home, so screw it, might as well carry on running till I get there!

I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous, and I'm sure 'normal' people who exercise regularly and are in good shape have none of this difficulty. But I'm not there yet, and I still have to make a real effort to fit in the exercise I do. And some days, of course, I'm absolutely pumped and can't wait for my run! Some days...

So anyhow, that's what works for me. If anybody out there has any little tips or tricks that they use, please do share them - some of us need all the help we can get!


  1. It's true that music really helps. Every time I step outside I have my headphones on.

  2. I love this! I have to do this kind of thing just to get myself going through the motions, then surprise I'm at the gym and on the elliptical. It's comforting to know other people do this kind of thing too, I thought I was kind of batty! Thanks for putting it out there.