Amongst the big bunch of questions friends have asked about running, there’s a general theme threading through many of them – essentially: ‘Why run?’
Staying motivated is easier when you know why you’re doing something in the first place, so it’s a good question to ask yourself. I think we all will have slightly different answers; elsewhere in this blog I’ve considered elements of my own reasons, including the joy of discovering improvement in something regardless of your starting point, the mental space, the freedom, the exhilaration of pushing through difficulty into strength, the physical joy in just running…
Whatever your starting point, staying keen is tough. Finding time, overcoming tiredness, throwing off lethargy, beating boredom, returning after injury – to name just a few – there are countless obstacles to maintaining a disciplined and enjoyable running habit.
Almost by accident, I came across a key factor in helping me through the first hard weeks and months of developing a strong track in consistent running. A friend had shared with me some motivational pictures (the kind you see all the time on Facebook and Pinterest) he’d found which resonated with him, and early on in his discovery of running he used them as a frequent prompt to stay on track. I’ll be honest – at first I was surprised. Before I started to run, I couldn’t imagine how someone else’s quotes or photos could have an impact on me; I tend to skim these sort of things in my FB feed, and until last May, Pinterest had only been a useful place to find cake ideas for my children’s next party.
But somehow these punchy, pithy posters would stick in my head. I’d be wrestling with myself along the pavement, struggling on the second mile, legs burning, lungs heaving, and remember Pain is weakness leaving the body*, or Your legs are not giving out. Your head is giving up. Keep going. Or I’d be at home, having that eternal internal will-she/won’t-she battle about going out for a run, and think A short run is better than no run or If you’d gone for the run when you first thought about it, you’d be back by now. I know they’re cheesy! But they work.
Having a mantra of sorts, a short statement of intent or encouragement can get you out of the door and down the street. It can boost you into doing one more lap around the park. And it can keep you smiling (or at least chin up) when sometimes your run isn’t so great.
Have a browse. You can start here if you like. See what inspires you. Perhaps your goal is fitness, perhaps it’s head-space. Whatever first prompted you to get out those trainers – find a reminder with striking visuals which can buzz around your psyche like a cheerful gnat. You can swat it away, but it will come back and bug you – until you go for a run.
*This is my husband Tom’s personal favourite, and it cracks him up if I ever reference it, it’s so ridiculously hardcore. I know! But sometimes, that’s what it takes.