I consider myself fortunate. I’m now in my fourth decade of running and I still love it as much as I did when I first started in 1979. There are days when it’s not much fun due to weather conditions, fatigue, etc., but all-in-all, I still enjoy taking those first few strides each morning.
We runners are an interesting lot. We’re unique individuals and our motivators are as unique as we are. I’d venture to say it’s usually a blend of factors that provide motivation. For me, it transcends physical fitness. Running contributes so much to my productivity and emotional well-being. It’s a positive way for me to channel my energy and obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
Motivation ebbs-and-flows over a lifetime. What motivates me at the age of 53 differs dramatically from what motivated me at the age of 20. From my own experience, there have been a few things that have served me well as running motivators:
Racing/competition: Competitive racing can be a huge motivator. Strategically planning weekly training schedules, speed workouts, tapering, and bringing all the logistics together on race day. The adrenaline rush as the starting gun explodes, the collective energy of runners of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels. I truly enjoyed ten full years of competitive racing. Now that I’m older, I enjoy “participating” just as much as I did “racing” when I was younger. Same event, different kind of motivation.
Variety: As I mentioned above, we runners tend to be creatures of habit, bordering on OCD tendencies. Do your best to exercise outside your “comfort zone” now and then. Participate in a fun, non-traditional running event now and then. If you’re more adventurous, try your hand at triathlons. They’re a great way to cross-train and improve your fitness level. Variety can be spice of your running/fitness life.
Training Groups: Running can be such a solitary endeavor and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoy my quiet, early-morning training sessions during the week, but the best thing that’s ever happened to my own running world has been participating in an organized training program. In 2003 I joined the Little Rock Marathon Training Program and it didn’t take long for me to get hooked on group training. There’s something special about sharing the running experience with good friends.
- Rest: It took me the better part of 30 years, but I finally have embraced the concept of rest. It’s arguably the most important part of the fitness equation. Motivation can wane when you’re physically tired and burned out on running. It’s okay to take a few days of rest. If you’re a committed runner, there’s very little danger of “falling off the wagon” and you’ll feel refreshed and invigorated when you hit the roads again. It’s okay to rest…trust me.