When it comes to running, particularly long distance, one of the most common questions I get asked is ‘where do you find the motivation?‘
Motivation is something that is personal to everyone but first and foremost my motivation stems from pure enjoyment. Running long distance requires a lot of mental strength and focus and so is very difficult to do if you don’t have a real love for it. Yes, you can train for a 5k or maybe even a 10k without a true love for the sport but I personally wouldn’t be capable of running 10-20 miles without true enjoyment in the journey.
Moral of the story: find a form of exercise you love! If you don’t love running, don’t’ do it! Try dancing, yoga, cycling or walking…they are all fantastic for you physical and mental health.
The second ingredient to motivation is planning! Having a schedule of when you are going to run (which day? what time of day? what do you need to prepare?) is critical to running regularly. Particularly when doing a long run, you can’t just run out the door without any forethought. Again this will depend on your schedule but I like to do my long run on the same day, at the same time each week (within reason – sometimes it has to be rearranged). I find this extremely helpful for preparing the mind for a long run as the day before I will make sure to eat extra, rest and prepare fluids, snacks and clothes for the run.
That leads me onto my next point…in order to find the motivation to run, having enough energy is vital! This will come through ensuring you are getting adequate rest (sleep is essential for athletes; I aim for 8.5-9.5 hours) and plenty of food. I notice a huge drop in motivation to do anything (not just running) if I am tired or run down so listening to your body is essential.
Finally, getting outside and finding an enjoyable place to run can be a total game changer. I am not a treadmill runner and probably never will be; I find it incredibly boring and difficult. But stick me in a forest or on a coastal path and I could run all day! Explore the area around you and if need be drive to a neighbouring area.
Get outside, explore, let go of numbers/speed/calories and just go for it!