Lonely Goat Running Club guest blogger, Hannah Irwin, who has run for England, looks at how to keep your enthusiasm for running feeling fresh.
When the New Year arrived, many of us tackled the start of 2021 with an energy we thought we had lost. There is something about going to bed on the 31st of December and waking up on the 1st that gives you the drive to give the new year your all, even in the midst of a pandemic.
However, half a year in, it can be difficult to keep that motivation at its highest. This is only natural. Whether you are new to running this year, or have been doing it for a while, it is near impossible to hit every day as hard as you can. But, there are a few things you can do to prevent your motivation from slowly dwindling away.
If you want to stick at something, it can be important to keep the enjoyment and excitement it offers you feeling fresh.
You may have found the perfect running route, but after doing it for a couple of weeks, it isn’t quite so appealing any more. Maybe you have the dream playlist that gets you in the zone as soon as you press play, but, fast-forward a couple of months and that Eminem song doesn’t quite get you pumped like it used to. It may even be your new running shoes that get you excited to get out the door, but after the first speck of mud covers the toe, the sparkle they bring to you early in the morning vanishes. How can you avoid your excitement to run completely disappearing?
“Variety is the spice of life”, so take this on board. Firstly, something you can do to ensure you stay motivated is alternate the run routes you use. If you constantly do the same route for a few months, it may not bring you the same enjoyment. Find a few different routes that you can alternate between. This way, you will prevent yourself from becoming bored and feeling less motivated.
You can also vary your running in another way, by doing different types of runs. Whilst people may think running is a very repetitive sport, it isn’t entirely. Yes, you always do the same motion, but you can vary the type of training you do massively.
Mix it up
If you tend to just go out for a set amount of time and run, try doing something different. This could be by doing a hill session, speed work, longer intervals, or a tempo workout. You could also do fartlek training, which translates to ‘speed play’ and has you constantly changing speeds for different periods of time.
There is so much you can do to add variety into your training. Not only will this keep your mind feeling fresh, but you will also find this might have a positive effect on your fitness level. Doing different types of runs will work all your systems, both anaerobic and aerobic, helping you get fitter.
If you are someone who needs to have your headphones in when running, you could also add a bit of variety here. There are so many running and non-running related podcasts to listen to, alongside upbeat tunes, that you don’t need to restrict yourself to one playlist.
One of my favourite podcasts is Happy Place by Ferne Cotton, and whether you’re running, stretching, or doing a bit of core, the time will fly by when listening to it.
Whether you feel tired on the day or not, taking regular, scheduled rest days can be incredibly important, both mentally and physically. We can’t realistically run as comfortably and happily as we like without ever resting. It is basically impossible.
Rest can be just as precious as running. We need to rest to allow our bodies to run at their best and avoid injury. Rest allows your body time to repair and build, allowing you to get stronger and keep running healthily. Rest can also be essential for the mind. In order to keep that desire and drive to run fresh, we need to have time away from it. This can help you appreciate the power of running and avoid mental burnout.
Listen to yourself
It can also help to listen to yourself. If you don’t feel like running, then perhaps you shouldn’t run that day. It is something to be enjoyed, not seen as torture. Therefore, if you listen to your mind and body, and give yourself a break occasionally, you are less likely to face stages of complete demotivation.
When you might sense your motivation is starting to dwindle, question whether you are doing these things. Running is there to benefit us, we want to ensure our enjoyment doesn’t flounder.