When I tried to figure out why it's been so long since I've written about running, it took awhile to come up with an answer. I knew I had knowledge to share, so what was stopping me? I finally realized it had little to do with what I knew or didn't know, and everything to do with the fact that I didn't feel as though I had a story to share because I haven't really buckled myself into a serious training schedule since last summer.
And then I realized something.
I don't need to be signed up for a race or gunning for a PR (personal record) to be able to say I'm a runner. A race bib does not a runner make.
Even as I am sitting in Boston on the eve of my husband's fourth running of the Boston Marathon, I have to realize that my running story is a different one, but it is still something to be proud of. What I have to offer, and feel pride over, is my consistency. There's a lot to be said for pounding the pavement week after week, several times each week.
So, that begs the question...how do you keep yourself motivated when there's not a race on the horizon? Here are a few thoughts and tips to keep you lacing up week after week.
#1 Why do you run?
The first step is to figure out what drives you. Perhaps it's to stave off a family history of diabetes or heart disease. Maybe you're hoping to lose a few (or more) pounds. Do you covet the feeling of jelly legs after a challenging run? Maybe it's the best way to clear your head first thing in the morning or after work.
Whatever the reason, come back to that thought often. Remembering why you run will keep you motivated day after day.
#2 Find your community
There's nothing like a group of runners talking about running to get you pumped for your next sojourn onto the streets or trails. When you're passionate about something, whether it's running, cooking or something else, it's hard not to pass that enthusiasm onto other like-minded people.
Seek out local running groups, pair up with a friend or attend talks at your local running store. There's power and motivation in numbers!
#3 Set small goals
Whether or not you are signed up for a race, consider setting goals for yourself. You could challenge yourself to run your usual weekday route at a faster face one time per week. Or work to make it to the top of that big hill without stopping. Or increase your mileage by 10% next week. Or run the last mile of your next run 30 seconds faster.
Pick a goal or two and crank your running up a notch. You may be surprised at how your body responds and your running improves.
#4 Mix it up
If the thought of your next run makes you roll over in bed and pull the covers over your head, ask yourself when you last changed things up. Maybe the lack of motivation is just a sign of boredom.
Making some simple changes to your running routine could put the pep back in your step. For example, add a day of speed work into your routine, work in the occasional hill workout, switch to trails if you're to running on the road (just make sure you wear proper shoes) or run with a local group one time per week.
#5 Cross train
It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking an occasional break from running can recharge your proverbial battery. It can also serve to strengthen muscles and give your usual (potentially overworked) running muscles a break. Take a water aerobics class, check out a local pilates or yoga studio, hop on your bike and hit the trails, or go for a day of skiing with the family. Mix it up to recharge your muscles and your mind.
Consistency with running is what keeps me feeling good, helping me to boost my energy and regulate my eating. All good. That being said, I'm feeling the itch to sign up for another race. It might be time to pin on another race number!