It’s hard for us all to stay motivated to run, especially during times of bad weather, holidays, or when we’re experiencing personal problems. And then we feel guilty for not running.
Here’s how I keep myself motivated. For one thing, I don’t do a lot of racing, so most of my goals are geared towards other aspects of running. Racing goals take months to achieve, and I need goals for each run. So, I focus on short-term goals; things I can accomplish this week or next week.
For example, there was once construction going on along the path where I run. I enjoyed watching that project progress and talking with the guys doing the work. It gave me goals for about four months as I looked forward to watching them carve a new path, compact the dirt, lay plastic, apply road-base, and then finally lay the asphalt.
I also draw motivation from the wildlife I see out on my runs: from Herons, ducks, and American Coots, to rabbits and foxes. If you go to my oldmanrunning blog and click on the wildlife label, you can read all about the birds and animals I see. In fact, the blog itself has helped me stay motivated to keep running; since I’ve gone public with it and have to “keep up my public image” so to speak.
Some of my other short term running goals have to do with distance. Back in 2009 I was running about 20-22 miles per week, including a long run of 10 miles, a medium run of 7, and a rest run of 5 miles. The following January I was attacked by blood clots. I went from a 7 mile run on a Saturday to only being able to walk 100 feet on Monday. My progress getting back to my former distance took a lot more time than I expected-almost 10 months. Setting weekly goals of inching forward in distance was really helpful during that time.
The final reason that I get out and run is because I enjoy it. This enjoyment has carried me through many years of running. There are times when I get busy with other things and don’t get out and run, but that’s ok. I’m like everyone else and have my ups and downs. I don’t beat myself up with guilt for not going out. I just finish my project at home that kept me from running for a day or two and then put my running shoes back on and get going.
We are all different. What motivates one person to run may not be helpful for another person. One of the key things is to recognize that none of us are perfect, and to not feel guilty when we don’t get out and run. Don’t feel bad because you’re slow or don’t go very far or because you don’t go as fast as you did when you were younger. Just accept who you are and enjoy your life.