You started so well, running with a smile on your face and attacking each run with enthusiasm and optimism you remember from childhood. But how can we keep motivated and prevent staleness creeping into our running?
No-one, not Mo Farah, not Laura Muir or even the ultra-committed Kilian Jornet, loves every run they do. It is a brutal reality that sometimes you will have to pick yourself up by the scruff of your neck and throw yourself out the door.
What’s important is that most of your runs are enjoyable and that all of your runs serve a purpose. If they don’t tick either of those two boxes then why bother?
Here are some tips which should help keep you on track.
1. Run with friends
You don’t have to be the same ability to train together and might only spend the warm up and cool down side-by-side, but just having someone to meet makes it more likely that you will get out there. It’s also good to take some time to encourage people new to the sport and help them along the way. It reminds you how far you have come and makes sure you remember the basics.
2. Set goals
You choose: will it be joining your first race, improving your ParkRun time, or just increasing your weekly distance by two miles a week for a month? Having something to aim for is so important in preventing our training from becoming aimless.
3. Reflect on your running
Think about what you have achieved and analyse your training. We’re not talking spreadsheets, it can just be a bit of time quietly thinking through the past couple of months. If you haven’t reached your goals think about why. Were they realistic? Did something unexpected come along? Set new goals and get back out there.
4. Step to the beat
Music and podcasts are great for winter training. A research project at Brunel University has shown that music can have significant positive effects on exercise. Dr Costas Karageorghis’s work demonstrated that carefully-selected music reduced our perception of exertion by up to 12%, improved the beneficial exercise effects by up to 15%, movement efficiency by up to 7%, and extend voluntary endurance by as much as 15%.
5. Mix it up
I often settle into a groove and repeat the same few routes over and over again. It’s great when my motivation is high, I can compare my times and really push myself. Sometimes though I just head out the door with no watch on and see where my feet take me. I find new places or rediscover old favourites and before I know it I have been out for an hour and have a huge cheesy grin on my face.
Don’t be worried if you start to feel as though you are falling out of love with running – it happens to everyone now-and-then. Be prepared to shake up your training by something new and even give yourself a week off – the long-term gain will be worthwhile.