Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Motivation Musings

on 20 February 2015
Image courtesy of Master Isolated Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master Isolated Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Getting the motivation to go out for a run is really difficult sometimes – maybe I’m feeling tired, or full, or just lazy, the weather’s iffy, maybe it’s just too hard to take that first step out the door because it’s been a while since I did. There are a few things that help me kick my butt into gear again.

Motivator One: Have something to work for.

My first ever running event was the Great Women’s Run in Glasgow in May last year – and I signed onto the race as a challenge for myself before I’d tried going out running. I used to work out a lot and walk miles and miles a week, and when that filtered out when I finished uni and started work, it didn’t really occur to me how much my fitness might have deteriorated after 2.5 years… I sounded like a dying asthmatic the first time I went out – and 100 yards was a struggle. My youngest sister F was out with me for my first run and can vouch for what a terrible breather I was. But, I had committed to doing it. 10km when 0.1km was looking like a struggle. I’d put sponsorship forms up at work and all sorts. I was in for it. It was either admit to everyone I was baling, or just get on with it and get round that course if I had to be dragged on a bungee rope by my other sister who’d agreed to do it with me – and runs all the time.

My breathing eased in the first week of going out on a 1 mile flat loop every morning and I began to feel more positive. The atmosphere at the race was fantastic and I was absolutely over the moon to come in under my stab-in-the-dark target time – I was hoping to come in under 1h30m, and came in at 1h17m. I was on top of the world. Then, I went out once or twice after the race, and not again for several weeks – it was hard to push myself out when I couldn’t picture myself crossing a finish line and how good I’d feel when I proved to myself I’d got there. So, I went hunting and booked one event a month from July to October, and I had my buzz for training again (casually you understand!!!).

My last event for 2014 was the Kielder 10km Beat the Bull in October. I hardly went out again for the rest of the year. So, over Christmas I gave myself a kick up the pants and went for an 8km run in the rain on Boxing Day and booked myself in for at least one event a month again so that at a minimum I would be doing one run a month, and I’d go out in between if nothing else so I wouldn’t hurt myself doing those. I’ve ended up booking 2-3 a month until September, and with two half marathons booked in for this year I have a range of distances from 5k and 10k to half marathon, with a 10 mile intermediary distance in late March which will be the first time I’ve done this distance.

The other great thing about booking onto an event to aim for, is many of them offer mementos for their runners – photos you can buy, medals, t-shirts, headbands…

My first run – the Glasgow one – I have photos of me and my sister Ph from the run right near the finish line, and the medal from that run in a double-frame in our living room to remind me how great I felt when I crossed that finish line in a better time than I’d dreamed possible at the time.

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My other half P also got me a medal hanger for Christmas – so I see my favourite medals on a daily basis. This reminds me of the good runs (medals from ones I didn’t enjoy so much are hidden in a box!) and I can look forward to doing them again – I booked onto the Gateshead Trail and Kielder Beat the Bull races for 2015 the day they opened up for registration!

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Motivator Two: Have a running buddy.

With the exception of one or two runs out with my sisters for that first race, and P agreeing to ‘give it a go’ for some of the 5km races with me (no training runs though!), I ran alone when I went out for most of 2014. When we moved house at the end of last year, I started going to the Run England group run by the Blackhill Bounders. This acted both as a confidence booster – I was rapidly moved up from group 1 to group 2 as I had got my lungs and legs used to running for more than a lamppost space at a time, and also helped challenge my pace and distance – every time I move up a group I feel determined to prove I’m entitled to be there. I recently moved into group 3 – the fastest of the Run England (beginner running) groups and am working on not only the increased pace, but the increased pace over longer distances, though for now I am usually at the back, especially if they’ve picked a hilly route! I really hope some time to be able to move into the running club itself and wear the black and yellow Blackhill Bounders top to an event. First, I have to prove I’ve earned it – both to them by attending and moving up through the Run England groups until I’m at a level to run with the running club, and to myself.

This year, I’m doing the Great North Run for the first time with my friend J – who started running when I dragged her out on New Year’s Day – I was starting the year with my trainers on whatever happened after that! J & I go out together about once a week at the moment, so I’m guarenteed two sessions even if I just do one with her and one with the running club! Add in a short workout session and we’re on to a winner already!

Motivator Three: Be able to see what you’ve achieved so far, and where you’re going.

Stickers are awesome. I have had the same pack of star stickers for years and finally found an excuse to use them – calendars. I get a sticker whenever I do a form of exercise, whether it’s a run, a workout, a long hike, an adventure day, etc. etc. and it makes it easy to see how I’ve been doing for the month without having to look in books or log onto websites or anything. It’s there whenever I walk past.

P bought me The Oatmeal 2015 Calendar for Christmas last year, I don’t know if I’d necessarily call them motivating messages as such, but I enjoy them. You can see for February, I’ve been doing pretty well – an average of 4 exercise sessions a week so far, a mix of runs of various distances and half-hour hand weight core strength workouts.

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January, before I started filling my year with running events – ones I am attending are coloured in with pink highlighter – was much patchier. I started the year pretty well, and then fell off the bandwagon for a few weeks before getting, rather patchily, back on again.

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I also use MapMyRun which lets me see my workouts for the week, and also look back at my pace and distance over as long as I’ve been using it – which is a real morale booster if I’ve been for a run when I didn’t really want to, and come back to find that I’ve beaten my time for a certain route or distance, or actually my pace is one of the highest I’ve been able to do to date. It helps me set targets for myself about where I want to get to, so I can feel smug when I achieve it, and I like being able to see my elevation data and pace through the route too – so I don’t beat myself up about a slow pace if I know the terrain was tougher or the weather bad – I’m not going to run as fast uphills in the snow as I am on a smooth tarmac flat road.

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