One of the hardest parts about training is getting and staying motivated. The trick for each of us is to identify what motivates us individually. Some run for charity, some to prove something to themselves, others to collect racing shirts and medals. Since no two people are the same, I am simply going to explain some of the things that motivate me, and maybe some of them will resonate with you.
The number one motivator for me is Race Day! Usually, I look out on the local event schedule and find a race that I want to run and I mark my calendar. I start to train for a few weeks to make sure that everything is in working order, then I register for the race and spend my money. At that point, I am committed. There is no backing out now. All of my training from that point forward is focused on Race Day.
The next key for me is to layout a comprehensive training schedule that gets me to the starting line healthy and prepared. Most training schedules will start at mile zero and help you build up to your race goal over several months. For an experienced runner building up to a marathon, the schedule could be 20+ weeks, or it could be 5 or 6 weeks for a new runner looking to finish their first 5K. Regardless of the distance, for me, that schedule keeps me on track and it keeps me focused on the ultimate goal.
Another really big motivator for me is to develop a running group. This can mean several things. It could be a group of friends with the same goal that get together once a week or more to train together. You can create an account on a running website that helps you track your training and connect with others in your area to develop an online support group. It could also be as simple as having a group of friends planning on running the same race so that you can keep up with each other’s progress. Anything that provides some level of public accountability will do. I have even discovered that if you tell everyone that you work with just how wonderful running is and how good it is for them, some of them will follow you all the way to the starting line of your next event.
Another great motivator is the PR. For those who don’t know this is short for Personal Record. A PR can be based on many things, the longest distance you have ever run, your fastest time in any event, the most miles run in a week, pretty much anything! I always like to set a new PR as a goal for each event that I run. The only way to keep improving is work at it, so this helps keep me on track as well.
So here is my list:
- Pick a race and pay for it.
- Make a schedule you can stick to.
- Find some like minded people to keep you on track.
- Set a personal goal that you can achieve.
- Get moving!
Whatever your motivation is, the key is to use it to your advantage. If you want to set a new PR, do it. If you want to run you very first half marathon, fantastic. If you want to see if you can finish a triathlon, go after it. Think that a 100 mile Ultra Marathon is in your future, amazing! Just figure out what you want to do, make a plan for how to do it, and get started.