Running: How to get motivated

I’ve said it many times before – I love running, but sometimes getting out the door or on the treadmill is a big struggle. No matter what time of day you run, there are potential roadblocks: the snooze button, long meetings, a hungry stomach, etc. Yesterday afternoon I was dreading an evening workout with my running club. Practice starts at 7pm, so it’s dark and cold by that time. I’m starting to get hungry. I’m zonked out from a long day in the office. I can think of endless excuses not to go, but I KNOW that I always feel better when I run, so I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks.

1) Not going is NOT an option. Everytime that little voice inside my head starts complaining that it’s too dark or too cold or I’m too tired, I envision a STOP sign. I don’t allow myself to think about other options (i.e. going home and watching TV). It’s kind of like tough love – “you’re going running, so stop whining!”

2) The buddy system. One of the best things about running with other people is the accountability facotr. I make it a point of promising my running friends that I’ll be at our weekly Thursday practice (or will meet them for an early a.m. run). I want to be seen as reliable, so keeping my word usually motivates me to get out the door.

3) Reward yourself. If I have to get up for an early morning race, I’ll sometimes promise myself a trip to Starbucks afterward. Or if it’s an evening workout I have to get through, I’ll think about the sweatpants, hot tea, and Gossip Girl episodes I can indulge in afterwards.

4) Make compromises. Sometimes I’m not feeling 100% and it’s hard to tell whether it’s physical fatigue or just the mental blahs. In these instances, I’ll plan on just doing half the workout (or a shorter run). However, more often than not, I end up feeling good enough to finish the whole thing!

After employing some of these tips, I motivated myself enough to go to practice last night. And like I expected, I’m so glad I went! Although the intensity of the pace wasn’t super tough, the volume of miles left me feeling wiped out by the end.

The workout consisted of:

  • 1.5 mile warm-up
  • 5K at half-marathon pace in the Harlem Hills in 23:09 (~7:28 pace)
  • .8 mile recovery
  • Another 5K around the reservoir (actual distance 3.14) in 23:37 (~7:31 pace)
  • 1 mile cool-down
  • Total: 9.5 miles

    We were supposed to run the 1st 5K at half-marathon pace and the 2nd 5K a little faster. My second 5K actually ended up being a little slower, BUT I did negative split it – running 12:07 (7:43 pace) for the first loop of the reservoir and 11:30 (7:19 pace) for the second loop.

Pheww. By the time I got home it was 9pm and I needed some to re-fuel ASAP. I’ve been dealing with a bit of a queasy stomach this week, so I focused on bland, yet energy-dense foods.

Peanut butter granola

I brewed a cup of tea to warm me up and then mixed 2 Tbs peanut butter into 8oz. of plain greek yogurt and added sliced banana and a serving of Nature’s Path peanut butter granola. This meal may not have been very voluminous, but it packed in nearly 700 calories and plenty of fiber, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins.

Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us! What’s your favorite (healthy?) game-day dish?

  • Ellen

    7-layer dip is always yummy and fairly healthy! Let’s see: cream cheese, black beans, tomatoes, onion, cheese, lettuce and…can’t think of the last ingredient! Anyone know? Or have their own version?

  • guacamole!

  • These are great tip! My favorite was number 1: Not going is NOT an option! That is totally me! 🙂

    My favorite healthy game day dish is fruit salsa with homemade cinnamon pita chips! YUM!

  • Spinach dip!!

  • Vegetarian chili! ( We had a chili party last superbowl)

  • Great tips for overcoming roadblocks! I’ve been having a really hard time getting back into it after my injuries, so I’ll try to use some of these ideas!

    veggies, homemade pita chips and hummus are my favorites!

  • I’ve been known to sleep in my running clothes so I REALLY have no excuse not to go! Anything with hummus in my favorite game time treat!

  • Great tips! I know my mental attitude is my biggest obstacle!

  • Game day – hmmm – the problem is even if it’s healthy…i still eat far too much of it….i had pizza tonight intended for 4…and ate it alllll myself :(…not sure why i didn’t just STOP – cripes…again :(…not cool at all –

    do you worry about or count carbs?? there was probably about 120 g in the pizza that i consumed…love your opinion please?!

  • I totally agree with you on the tips and tricks. Number 1 is the key–unless I’m on a migraine deathbed, not exercising is not an option, especially if I’m tired or have had a bad day. Any doubts I have about going always lose out to knowing that I’ll wipe the slate clean with the workout!

    I’m a huge hummus fan, and no sports celebration is complete without chili (and a couple of corn chips, rationed out because they are my crack)

  • I do something to similar to #1 i.e just making myself! I’ll do the same as your other trick as well – telling myself I can just do half or go slow and normally once I’m out there I get into it.
    Oooh game day treats! Guacamole and salsa all the way!

  • Thank you for that running “can-do” checklist, very good tips indeed!

    As for football, I could care less about the sport. I love to eat and make fun of the commercials, though, so one of my favorite game-time snacks are crudites or buffalo wings and blue cheese. The latter isn’t healthy, but totally delicious.

    Have a great weekend, Megan!

  • Awesome running tips — thanks! I love the idea of visualizing the stop sign when trying to think up excuses.

    Pizza is probably my favorite Super Bowl Sunday treat 🙂

  • Jacqui

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been having very similar issues! Ever since the manhattan half I’ve been dealing with an extremely queasy/upset stomach daily and less motivation to do my runs. I always get them done, but I find I keep pushing them off until later and later in the day.

    I really should come out for one of the Thursday runs! perhaps the group-element will get me out of this running slump (I usually run alone).

    As for the stomach… I dunno :-P. I’ll stick to greek yogurt, grains, and bananas. That sounds like an excellent plan 🙂

  • Great tips! Sometimes just talking myself into running is the hardest thing.

    Hummus, chips and veggies is my go to Superbowl snack.

  • i needed those tips. more than you might think. i esp love #1…i need to stop negotiating with myself and just make it NON-negotiable!

  • I think it is important to always reward yourself for a job well done. That makes any run easier to deal with. Great post and keep up the good work!