Motivation, like a natural resource, can be depleted. Giving it our all, for an extended period of time—for an extended period of years—gets tiring: it’s hard to run in endless circles and really dig deep to run them faster and further than you’ve done before.
And yet, as runners, as real runners, as runners who don’t finish a bucket list race once and then take up cycling, that’s exactly what we do. We move from race to race and season to season and set ourselves up with big new hairy goals.
So how to achieve them?
And how to dig in, right now, when summer is over and race day is approaching and it’s time to lean in, make up for lost time, and get serious? In collaboration with marathon runner Caroline Bolduc and HOKA, we asked our readers for their best motivational tips for restarting, and, as always, heard applicable wisdom that goes straight to your heart—to your shoes.
“I run for my mental health and repeat. I remember that’s all I have to do.”
“I love that Caroline applies perfume before a run. I’m going to try that!!”
“I am struggling mentally this training cycle. I’ve been down this road before but I don’t remember it ever being this bad. So I am running with gratitude. Every time I get out the door to run it is a win and I will dedicate that run to someone or something for which I am grateful.”
“I change the terrain I train on. If city streets is what I’ve been doing, I change to a path (paved or dirt) and something with changes in elevation.”
“Pick a charity to run for. I find running means more to me when it’s not me out there with myself, but representing something that matters.” [Tamarack Ottawa Marathon race director Ian Fraser runs for the Rape Crisis Centre]
“It’s hard on my purse-strings but it’s a gift for myself: anything better than a new pair of shoes?”
“While we cannot control Mother Nature, we can run with her. When the weather is bad and I am tempted to forgo the training run, I say to myself “it might rain/snow/insert whatever weather, on race day”.
“I find that just signing up for a race gives me the motivation to train.”
“I am not a “natural athlete”, and training is hard for me. The best way to do it, for me, is with like-minded individuals. I know I will never place, but I will finish. Having a group to help me get out there, even when I am not feeling it, is the best motivation. My second tip is to be happy you are able to run. Not everyone can run. One day, I might not be able to do these distances, and I will look back and say to myself: “I am so happy I did this while I was able to.”
“New jams on my iPod!” [For Tom Petty jams, click here.]
“I have embraced the “robot mode” way of thinking or non-thinking actually. Meaning that when your motivation fails, you get into robot mode, no-thinking, just dress up and go, think about the goal only.”
“Anything better than a post-run beer?”
“For motivation on the hardest days, I rely on accountability and community. Accountability to my race day partner who lives in a different city (we relay all training runs to each other), and community by running with friends—or even asking my boyfriend, who loves biking alongside my long runs. A favourite saying: bad days are necessary to highlight how good the good days are!”
“I just think that it’s time reserved for me, myself and I. And, what about the feeling after the shower! We never regret a run when it’s done.”
“Visualize the finish line while you train.”
“The key is to be disciplined with the training but at the end of the day, just have fun, soak in the experience and no matter what the outcome is you should be proud of yourself.”
“I prefer to run early mornings (4:00 am wake up call anyone?), so what I do to pump myself up for my runs is to have my earphones on my bedside table right by my phone all charged up, so when I turn over to off my alarm—my earphones are staring right at me, ready to play my jams for my run.”
Fall races are coming. Summer is through. Your goals will be tested and there’s no magic to our sport. It comes down to preparation, effort, and your ability to withstand pain. It’s not for everybody. But you’re not everybody. And that’s the great thing about running. We all know that after fall is over, here comes springtime: an opportunity to repeat the whole thing again.