Let’s face it: Staying motivated to run during our summer inferno can be awfully darned tough. Especially for the many beginners who cite the lack of motivation as the biggest obstacle they face to maintaining a walking or running program.
Sometimes, it is difficult just to find a reason to run or walk at all in the summer. But, every runner–beginner or veteran–goes through the same motivational ups and downs. Experienced runners just have a few tricks to get them through these dog days of summer when so many of us don’t feel like running or doing much of anything at all.
Here are a few sure-fire strategies:
• The five-minute rule. If you don’t feel like running, tell yourself you’re going to run or walk for just five minutes. Anyone can do that. Even if you completely lack any motivation to run, force yourself to go outside and move for at least five minutes. You might be amazed that after a couple of minutes, you’ll feel better and can continue on and complete your run. On the other hand, if you still feel lousy after a few minutes and every step is an effort, bag it. Maybe your body is telling you something.
• The mental bonk. Being exhausted mentally and tired physically are not the same thing. Even though at times, they can feel like it. Especially after the end of a long, hard day. And that is exactly the problem for many runners who can only find the time to train after a busy workday. They are just beat, want to get home and escape the heat. This is where the five-minute rule comes into play. If you can get out the door, an easy run might be just what the doctor ordered to get over the stress of your day. Trust me: It can work wonders.
• Go early. If coming home from work or school and trying to run is a continual battle, go before work. You will have to get up earlier and rearrange your schedule, but it will be worth it by starting off the day with a mind-clearing, oxygenated run. And, it is much cooler in the morning.
• Find a friend or a training group. If you know someone or a training group is counting on you to meet for a run, you are more likely to show up and do the scheduled workout. Find a reliable partner (s) who you can count on and who can count on you. Set a time and stick to it.
• Run a different route. So many of us run the same old routes nearly every day. The result? Boredom. So switch up. Go to a new park or run a completely different road. Or run your regular route in the opposite direction. Try to get off the Lady Bird Lake/Butler Trail once in a while. Sure, it’s beautiful, but change things up and go to the Greenbelt or sneak on a golf course very early in the morning and run a few holes. Any type of different running or walking situation you can put yourself in will give you a different outlook.
• Get off the treadmill and/or the track. If you have confined most of your running to the treadmill, get outside and breathe some fresh air. Treadmills may be necessary for some runners (especially in the heat of summer), but treadmill running is boring. Running is meant to be done outside. BTW: Tracks might be a safe place to run, but it’s just as boring a place to as a treadmill.
• Set some training goals. Try to run a certain number of miles in a week. Or go for a certain length of time. Or run a specific number of days. Set some manageable training goal that you can accomplish by simply being consistent with your running.
• Focus on your long-term running goal. Sometimes all you need to get motivated is to think about running a race. Think about the excitement of race day. Think about all you have already accomplished. Think about setting a PR or just getting a new T-shirt you can be proud to wear.
Some upcoming races to consider shooting for: the IBM Uptown Classic 10-K on October 6, the NOCC Balance 5-K on August 25 or the Zilker Relays on August 30th in Austin; the Alamo City Mission Half Marathon in San Antonio on September 8 or the Gruene 10-K in Gruene.