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Running Start: How to Find the Motivation to Get Moving

May 28, 2014

runningstartIf you have set a goal to add more exercise to your daily routine, inspiration and motivation are key aspects of getting you moving, even when you are lacking the energy to put on those running shoes.

Whether you are striving to run a marathon or just get off the couch, try a few of these motivators to get in shape and energize your exercise routine while running.

Set a Goal and Find Your Emotional Drive

“There are various motivators in the running community, but at the core it comes down to having a goal and a purpose for that goal that is inspiring to the individual,” says Chris Janzen, mental conditioning coach and founder of TriathleteMind.com. “It needs to create enough emotional drive to put in the hours, get out of bed in the early morning and stick with it week after week.”

What are your goals? According to Janzen, runners put one foot in front of the other for many different reasons, including:

  • Weight Loss
  • Health Gain
  • Charity or Fundraising Events
  • Personal Competition
  • Fun and Networking
  • Connection to Nature

In order to reach these goals, it’s important to have an emotional attachment to them. “Without an emotional drive linked to the goal, it is hard to stay on track with training, stay amongst competing priorities in life and simply to must up enough will to keep going when the going gets tough and you experience physical pain or fatigue and tough workouts on hills,” says Janzen. “If you don’t care enough, you will let the other stuff win.”

Move Forward One Step at a Time

As with any new activity, it is important to take baby steps. If you have set a goal to increase your running length, improve your time or get back into shape, understanding the types of motivation will help you to reach these goals. Motivation typically works on three levels: Long term, day to day and in the moment, according to Janzen.

  • Long Term: Equals a bigger purpose than just going for a jog. Things like health and weight benefits, connecting with nature and being a role model for children fuels the long term. “There is a bigger reason for putting in the day to day that fuels a higher level of importance for sticking to running over time,” says Janzen.
  • Day to Day: It is about using various strategies to keep you on track and always moving. To overcome boredom or monotony, you need to mix in some variety, such as running different routes, running with a group or a partner on some days and alone on others, and doing different kinds of workouts like hills, sprints, or long, slow runs. “Doing the same thing over and over again turns part of the brain off and we need stimulus to keep things fresh, interesting and motivating,” says Janzen.
  • In the Moment: When you’re struggling with the inner demons or the voices that encourage you to give up or not care about your running routine when physical pain and exhaustion kick in, in the moment motivation can kick start your daily run. “Proven methods to overcome this are having an empowering and meaningful mantra to repeat over and over until that powerful thought overpowers the demon,” says Janzen. “Using energizing music on your iPod to keep your body moving when your mind wants to quit is also helpful.”

You will likely struggle with a rigorous routine and your focus may get a bit cloudy at times. It’s important to reconnect to your goals and purpose every week, says Janzen. “Remind yourself of the progress you’re making to give you just the boost you need to keep going after the initial excitement and drive starts to fade away,” he says.

Experiment and find what motivates you each day. Is it a change of scenery, a new tune or a running partner? What will keep your running routine fresh and stimulating? “Regardless of age or level of fitness, it’s about finding your ‘edge’ where the motivation starts to fail and what works for you to get it going again,” says Janzen. “When training over a long season, there’s no doubt that motivation will dip. These strategies will minimize the dip and quickly get you back on top form.”


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