It isn’t always easy feeling motivated to go for a run. There are days when gravity feels extra strong; the sofa extra comfy. I get it. Especially after a day of multitasking in front of a computer screen, when I feel grouchy and my brain is frazzled and distracted. When all I want to do is have a long bath, possibly pick a fight with my boyfriend, and definitely eat dessert. Preferably one I haven’t made myself.
If this sounds a bit like you then firstly I’d recommend this article from The Guardian by Oliver Burkeman, because it’s very interesting. Although on the one hand I find it a bit depressing that the idea of a reward doesn’t really encourage us to work harder (if anything, he says, it creates the subconscious idea that exercise is an even more unpleasant task and we won’t enjoy it), on the other hand it’s probably true – I find running a reward in itself. [I realise how nauseating that sounds if you hate running, but really I’m as surprised as you by this new Pollyanna perspective. A year ago I wouldn’t have believed it possible to ‘enjoy’ a run, any more than one might ‘enjoy’ a colonoscopy. But I do.]
Anyway, for what it’s worth my motivating tips are thus:
- Get it over and done with first thing. As the old meme says…
I’d recommend this for lots of reasons, mostly because you won’t have had 5+ hours at your desk in which to look at the weather forecast, plan excuses aloud to disinterested colleagues, or generally talk yourself out of it. It’s a cliche, but having your kit laid out beforehand makes it easier to crawl out of bed and to the gym before you know what’s what. I also make myself a specific breakfast on gym days (overnight oats) so if I miss my workout I feel guilty with every mouthful that I backed out on my promise. I also maintain that there are few feelings in the world better than the ‘smug around the office’ feeling that comes from having run 3 miles before work. Whether you choose to crow at the tea station, or keep it to yourself, there’s a certain glow that others will rightly find sickening. [NB this will not make you friends.]
- A bit like the overnight oats, there’s something to be said in self guilt. Imagine yourself not doing the workout. What would you do instead? Ok, if it’s something good like calling your best friend, mowing your neck-height lawn or baking cakes for orphaned baby animals then fair enough – go forth and think nothing of it.
But if realistically it’s just scrolling through Facebook and feeling slightly disgusted with yourself then you might as well lace up your trainers and get on it. I also find the image of the resulting smugness (see first bullet point) I will enjoy all day is usually enough.
- Sign up to a race and make a training plan, especially if you are a massive nerd like me. God I love my training plan. So many numbers, so many things to tick off, so much structured fun.
Plus it’s making all of my sessions have a distinct purpose, rather than just: ‘Urr, maybe I’ll run 10k, oh no wait I don’t want to, let’s stop here at this cake shop.’ So that gives them their own weird pleasure, even if it hurts and I’ve never sweat so much in my life.
- Have someone who forces you to do things you hate. While in every other element of life this is not to be encouraged, in running it’s almost a necessity. After all, I really didn’t want to do the Insane Terrain obstacle course, and look what happened! (Really, go and look. Look at my happy piggy mud face.) It’s good to have friends who push you and hold you accountable, to a degree of course – it helps if they are a similar speed and standard, otherwise you might die.
So how do you keep on keeping on? I’d love to know…