Losing motivation to keep training? It’s very common with busy middle age athletes. I’ve worked with a number of clients over the years and developed some proven “tricks” to stay motivated to continue your training despite poor weather, being busy or when you miss a few workouts. With a little preparation and solid planning, there’s no reason why you can’t stay motivated all the way through race day.
1. Start with the big picture.
What is it you’re trying to accomplish or what is your why? You need to write this down, because the clearer the vision, the more likely you are to keep going, even when times get tough. Start by asking yourself what it is you’re trying to achieve.Are you simply trying to finish a particular race, like a 1/2 or full marathon? Maybe you have a goal time (PR) in mind.Another “why” for many athletes is that they are trying to raise money for charity they may be representing on race day.
The visualization of accomplishing this goal is essential. Picture yourself standing at the starting line on race day.You’re fit, confident and ready to get to the starting line. Now picture yourself finishing the race. We tend to perform in the way we expect to. So if we expect to fail, we do. By seeing success, you’re more likely to attain success.
2. Re-confirm your “why,” take time to ensure it’s truly YOUR goal.
This may seem like a waste of time, but I can assure you that your success depends on you “owning” your goal. I like to ask prospective clients about their “WHY.” Inside my athlete profile/questionnaire which is used to develop personalized training plans, I want to understand what’s behind an athlete’s why. If the word “should” comes up, chances are the person may haveset a goal because they feel like it’s something they’re supposed to do, and not something they want to do. In my experience, more often than not, people are less likely to stay motivated when they’re on the path of “should.”
3. Break down your training into weekly buckets (or microcycles) instead of looking at the entire 12 – 16 week plan.
In other words, follow a training plan. Once you have a goal and and a “why,” it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed about how you’re going to accomplish that goal. Consider hiring a qualified coach to write you a custom plan that will help you meet your goal while fitting your athletic abilities and specific situation. Don’t use a generic plan off the internet.In coach speak, we refer to an entire plan as a macrocycle, which depending on the length of the plan, is comprised of 3-4 mesocycles, which are each made upof 3-4 microcycles (think weekly or even 4-5 days of workouts).By breaking it up into smaller pieces, you regain the feeling that you’re doing something possible.
4. If you’re overwhelmed or feel like you’re not following your plan, talk to your coach or a running partner with whom you have been training.
It might be that you don’t feel prepared to run your race because you’ve been injured or missed some key workouts.It may be necessary to slightly adjust your goal. Figure out what you need to do next and then go about making sure you do your best to move forward. You might have to pick up where you left off on the training plan or you may have to back track a week or two and redo some workouts.The important thing is to get some momentum by simply doing some kind of workout followed the next day by another workout.
5. Always remember your “Why.”
Post your why on an index card or post it, where you can see it daily. Just this little reminder can provide you with the fresh motivation to keep going.
Pro tip: Celebrate the small successes (such as completing a long run or challenging interval workout). This will help keep you motivated to continue your journey.
Motivation is something many lose during training. However, I found that you can regain it or keep your levels high with a little planning and with the help of others (this last one is huge). By keeping on track with your goals, I’m confident you will find you will maintain your motivation and continue training.
If you need help or just have a simple question, please reach out to me through the contact link at the top of blog.
Many new runners give up early in the game because they feel that they’re not going to be shape in time for the race. It’s understandable when injury or sickness is the reason for not being in shape. However, what’s more common, is that life gets busy and 5 runs/week turns into 1-2 per week.
Suddenly the reality of not being in shape for the race can “sinks in.” Inevitably, the motivation to get “back on track” diminishes and self-confidence takes a hit. In this post, I will provide proven strategies that help runners get past that point in the training schedule where self-doubt about one’s performance lead to lack of motivation and low self-confidence.
The Importance of Goal Setting
First, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. Although how to properly set goals is a topic for another blog post, my point is that if you’ve set a goal that requires more time or even athletic ability than you realistically have, you may be setting yourself up for big disappointment.
Setting goals involves more than just a specific finishing time, it may also include the race itself or simply being able to run a certain amount of workouts. For example if the farthest you’ve ever raced is a 5k, it may not be appropriate to sign up for a marathon that’s 3 months away. Give yourself adequate time to build up towards a 10k, then ½ marathon and finally a marathon. It may take 12 months or more depending on your current abilities.
By setting reasonable goals and committing to a training plan that’s personalized to both these goals and one’s athletic ability, we stand a much better chance to succeed.
Learn how to run slow
Another reason many new runners struggle to get in shape is that don’t know to pace properly. They simply run too fast. The result is that they associate running with pain. Since running hurts every time they do it, it’s no wonder that beginner runners get frustrated and end up losing the motivation to continue to train.
In my marathon training book, Crushing 26.2, there’s a complete section on how and why it’s important to run slow. Although it takes time and practice to get fit and learn how to pace yourself, it’s a skill most experienced runners have mastered.
I’ll admit, for beginners, running feels tough when they first start, I can assure you that this agony won’t last and although early on you may feel exhausted, you will progress.
Most runners are different, so they get in shape at different rates. Before training for a race such as a 10K, ½ or full marathon, the body needs to build a solid fitness base. The best way to accomplish this is to run at an easy pace for as much as 85% of your running.
It may take 3 months of running 4-5 times per week to be able to build up to 3-4 miles without stopping. The good news is that unless you become injured or sick, most people, if training properly, will quickly improve and be able to run further than 3-4 miles without stopping.
The other benefit of running slow is that it promotes recovery. You can’t run fast all the time and expect to stay healthy.
Having the patience to run slow and build up a running base, will pay huge dividends when it comes time to complete a 16-20 week training plan.
How to Beat the Excuses Not to Run
We all have busy lives with daily or weekly challenges that can make it hard to get out and run. Successful middle age runners have figured out how to deal with potential obstacles by employing some creative thinking.
Following are a few of the most common “barriers” my clients have presented and the solutions we’ve devised to keep them training.
I’m too busy with work that I don’t have time to run – We’re all busy, but if you’re serious about your running and it’s important to you, the best solution is to schedule your exercise. At the beginning of each week, I look at my training plan and determine how much time will be needed to complete each workout. I currently coach a runner whose only time to run on weekdays is if he runs to the train station. He completes his strength training and mobility exercises before his run.
I’m injured and can’t run – Definitely understandable, but I recommend asking your Dr. or Physical Therapist if there’s alternative exercises that you can perform. Most injuries require some kind of rehab. Ask if non-impact exercises like swimming, cycling or rowing are acceptable. I’ve coached people who actually return to running stronger than before their injury.
I’m too tired to run when I get home from work – Try exercising at lunch or early in the morning before you leave to work. Running early requires getting to bed earlier, but finishing your workout by 7-730am and then heading to work is a great feeling and typically makes you more energized the rest of the day. You will also be tired and ready for bed early when you workout first thing in the morning.
It’s too hot, cold, rainy, snowy (the weather obstacle) – I’ll admit that it’s tough to run when it’s single digits or 90+ degrees outside. When it’s really cold, you may have to simply use indoor equipment at the gym (treadmill, elliptical, etc) or if you’re lucky enough to have access to an indoor track. If you dress warm-up enough and don’t leave any bare skin to the elements, you can actually handle single digits, just be aware of the direction of the wind.
When it’s hot out, you have to either run early or late in the day. Ensure you drink a lot of water before, during and after your run. Hydration is critical.
Remember that on those days when you’ve lost your motivation to run, just try to do whatever you can. 2-3 miles may be all you can “eek out.” Accept the fact that sometimes your running simply goes back and forth with your lifestyle.
If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.