But I Want to Stop! Ways to Stay Motivated While Running
I was posed a question last night. To paraphrase, the question went like so: "What should I be thinking about when I run? How do I stay motivated to keep running when it gets hard?" This proved to be quite an interesting question. You're always told how to react physiologically and how to prepare for a race or event but, most times, it's our minds that need the most work.
So I decided to address this and outline several ways to keep yourself motivated during your runs; not motivating yourself to run but motivating yourself to keep going during a run when your mind is telling you to stop. I'm sure we've all had those moments, especially beginner runners. You're in the middle of a run and your mind just says "Man, screw this, I'm tired and hurting. Let's stop doing this and go home." or something like that. Your body feels like it's being punished and the only thing you want to do is make it stop even though there is no benefit in quitting.
Here are some ways to get around it:
1. Focus on success. It's tough to stay motivated when your mind is concentrating on how much you want to quit so give it something else to think about. Imagine yourself kicking butt in the race you're training for. Image crossing the start line, running with perfect form, not getting tired, feeling no pain, and finally crossing the finish line. If nothing else, it serves as a welcome distraction from your current thought process. Not only that but if you continue to do this during each run and even when you're not running, you'll find that the overall process of running becomes easier. You become a manifestation of your thoughts. Trust me it works!!
2. Think opposite. Your mind is concentrating on how hard it is. So think of the opposite. Don't think about how far you have to go. Think about how far you've come. Don't think of how tired and hurt you are. Think of how healthy and fit you're becoming. It's true what they say. Pain is weakness leaving the body. Now, let's not get it confused. By pain, I mean being sore and the typical pains that come with heavy exertion, not to be confused with injuries. Half full glass instead of half empty, it works in pretty much any scenario.
3. Take your mind to another place. This one is easier if you're running outdoors. Absorb yourself in your surroundings. Tap into your senses: the smells, the sounds, the beauty of nature or the urban landscape or whatever it is around you. This not only keeps you from being distracted but it gives you the serenity of being in the moment. Being present is how you should always live life. If you're listening to music, sing to it. Change your pace to match it. Listen to audiobooks. That's a great way to kill 2 birds with one stone.
4. Find a mantra. This is perhaps one of the most useful ways to push yourself. Think of a quick motivational saying you've heard before or even make one up. For example, "You can do it!" or "You got this!" Both of these are excellent mantras and ways to get yourself moving and it also pairs wonderfully with method #1. My chosen personal mantras are "Run, fat boy, run!" and "This is nothing!". Try to avoid mantras that are distance/time related like "Almost there." or "Not much longer now." because if you're only 2 miles into a 10K, this might actually have the opposite effect because you're still fairly early in the run.
There are other ways to motivate yourself while running but these are some great mind games you can play with yourself to get you through but as always...
...run strong but be safe.
What are some ways you stay motivated during a run?