Finding the motivation to run feels like looking for that last piece of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that you and your family tried to put together. It’s frustrating and it feels like you’ll never find it, it’s forever lost. Where did it go? Did the dog eat it? And then months later you find it, so you tell your family but they don’t share your excitement so they won’t help you put it together again. How do you start again by yourself?
Fear not, the voice of the experience is here. I’ve committed so many rookie mistakes, and I still do. I’ve learned about the pain that comes from using incorrect shoes, wearing inappropriate gear, muscle cramps, bad posture, and choosing the wrong time of the day to run. But while I’m still a rookie because running is definitely not my passion, I can tell you what I did to get my butt off the couch and hit the road.
Invest in good running shoes
You might think “I thought that was the only exercise I don’t need special gear”. Well, you kind of do. And before I tell you how to motivate yourself to run: safety first.
Good running shoes are ridiculously expensive and it can discourage you to even start training. However, there are some cheap options available for those broke souls out there (like me).
If you run with shoes that are not meant to be used for that, you could risk injuries on your knees, tendons, muscles, bones or ankles. If you plan on making it a part of your exercise routine, it’s best to invest in some good well-cushioned running shoes that will ease the impact of your foot on the concrete. They also need to be flexible. If you try to bend the shoe with your hands and it doesn’t bend easily, imagine the effort that your feet will have to make!
At the end the day, you need running shoes that feel comfortable for you. Just make sure when you pick them they bring you stability, flexibility and are well-cushioned.
Start with a 15-30 minute walk
The first thing you do when you start something is to think small. If you can’t find the motivation to do something, you’re probably being too broad in your goal statement.
For example, you decided to start training and write on your goal journal Run a 5K on Summer, then Summer comes and guess who’s butt is still on the couch? That statement won’t get you anywhere. You need to think of the steps you need to make in order to accomplish that.
If you write instead, Walk 15 minutes for a week, then next week you write, Speed walk for 20 minutes, then you’ll be setting small goals that will eventually take you to the bigger picture.
Start on the treadmill and then slowly hit the road
Running outside sucks.
Not really, it’s great, but it terms of endurance it can be a challenge. It’s not the same running on a rubbery surface such as the treadmill than running on concrete. This is when the you put those running shoes to test.
If you want to start easy, hit the treadmill first before going outside randomly running around your community. Running outside brings a different experience, your performance could be affected by the terrain and the weather. It might sound silly, but it can end up adding difficulty to something that’s already challenging for you.
Mentally establish landmarks
When you’re new into this, keeping a pace can be challenging. You’ll see people that can jog for 30 minutes straight without rest, and then there’s you. You can barely last 3 minutes. Listen, you’ll get there. Don’t get discouraged by these people that seem to have superpowers, remember we were all beginners once.
When you start running outside, mentally tell yourself that you’ll make it to the next post, or the next big tree. After you reach the landmark then walk until your heart slows down a bit, not completely, and then run for a short distance again.
This is how you build endurance in the long term and get your body used to the exercise. It’ll help you not to lose your motivation, because you’re constantly setting mini goals and looking forward to something.
Keep track of your progress
Let’s get real: keeping track of things is not for everyone. But if you’re a visual person, you might want to keep a log of the time, speed and the distances.
If you’re like me and you do it for the sake of feeling amazing afterwards, then forget about keeping close track. I would suggest, however, keeping a journal of how you’re doing your training. It’ll come handy, trust me.
Practice HIIT cardio
You can skip this tip if you’re comfortable and happy with the pace that you’re going. However, practicing HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) will greatly improve your endurance and your speed. There are different ways to practice HIIT, but it mainly consists of intense bursts of exercise for a short period of time, followed by active rest, never allowing your heartbeat to go back to normal.
It’s painful, but the good thing is it only lasts for a few minutes. For example I do 5-10 minutes of HIIT running almost everyday. I sprint for 30 seconds, then speed walk or jog for 1 minute and so on. There are many training programs with different ways of how to perform HIIT. I suggest do what feels good for you. You can sprint for 10 seconds, and walk for 2 minutes if you’d like. It’s all up to you.
Sign up for a 5K
Running a 5K by yourself can be challenging. When there’s no people around you trying to achieve the same goal, your motivation diminishes and it’s hard to keep that adrenaline going. However, when you’re racing with other people that share the same goal, the adrenaline in your body provides the fuel you need to complete the race. Specially that last .5 mile, that’s all adrenaline.
Google 5Ks on your city and you’ll be surprise how many you’ll find happening and at low cost. If you can’t find any local 5Ks happening, don’t let it discourage you. You can still do it on your own and it’s a great mental exercise to keep the pace and motivation going by yourself. It builds your perseverance, and when your mental health is unstable, this is a tremendous trait to build. The ability to persist even when you feel about to give up.
So I encourage you to put on your shoes and start walking or jogging or running, whatever fits your style.
Stay active, pineapples!