Smart sessions and careful planning will boost your motivation and results this autumn. Follow these expert tips.
Don’t feel likerunning all ofa sudden? Withthe shorterdays and fallingtemperatures,it’s natural yourrunning motivation might plummetas summer comes to an end. ‘I’veexperienced how difficult it is to get out ofthe door when it’s cold, grey, raining andmiserable,’ says former 1,500m Olympianand founder of training camp PerformanceTeam (performanceteam.co.uk), AndyBaddeley. ‘I’ve procrastinated and put itoff.’ And he’s right – even the hardiestof runners can struggle to muster up theenergy for training when the shining sunfades and the prospect of pounding thepavements becomes less than appealing.The trouble is, running isn’t easy, addsKatharine Merry, ex-Olympian and GreatNorth Run Duracell bunny pacer. ‘Trainingwas tough when it was my sole job, but I’mnow a working mother and know how hardit can be [as a hobby],’ she says. You needthe know-how to up your enthusiasm whenit dips. Here’s a six-step guide to gettingout of the door again. Trainers on?
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Running will seem alot more exciting if you’reworking towards a race orgoal. ‘Having something to work towardsmakes it much easier to motivate yourselfto run,’ says Baddeley. ‘Ideally, you’ll havea longterm goal (to race your first 10K or tofinish a marathon, for instance) that youthen break up into several “medium-termgoals”, which might be to complete acertain number of parkruns or to run acertain time, or even simply to run three times a week for a number of consecutive weeks.’ Find a schedule to follow that will help you to reach your goal and you’ll be far less likely to skip sessions.
‘Arranging to meetsomeone for a run hasalways been the singlemost motivating factor for me,’ admitsBaddeley. It makes you feel accountablefor getting up and going for a run when youdon’t really fancy it. Running may not seemthat appealing at first, but Baddeley oftenfinds training in these circumstances a lotmore rewarding. ‘The power of a sharedexperience is really valuable. Knowing thatsomeone else is expecting you to be thereeven if the weather is awful, makes a hugedifference and gives you a timetable tostick to.’ Elite TriSutto coach Perry Agasswho is coaching throughout the year atETE TriCamps, agrees. ‘Buddying up canalso be a great way to stay motivated.You’re less likely to cancel if you’re not feeling 100 per cent up for it, and you’ll even get some social time, too,’ he says.
Running disclaimer –sometimes you run out ofmotivation when your body needs a break.If this is the case, take time off rather thanpush through a mental barrier. ‘If I learntanything as a professional athlete, it’s thatinjury is part and parcel of sport,’ saysMerry. ‘And, when I say injury, I don’t meananything too serious, but small niggles.Even the smallest niggle can become asevere injury if ignored.’ If running feelstougher than normal, ask yourself whetheryou feel comfortable. Do you have thesame spring in your step as normal? Areyou running freely and without overly tightmuscles? ‘Knowing how to restappropriately and using relevant rehab foryour body, from ice baths and sportsmassages to physiotherapy, is a core partof training,’ adds Merry. ‘Only recently, Isuffered with a minor calf tear that saw meoff running for 10 days – it was tough and Iwas so tempted to hop on the treadmill butI refrained because I wanted to get back totraining as normal.’ You’ve been warned.
rainingtechnology has come along way. You can trackyour current and average pace, heart rateand lap splits via a wrist watch, andfunctional fabrics will even keep you warm,dry and comfy on bad-weather runs. Andthen there are training apps. Baddeleyaffirms that tracking apps, such as Strava(strava.com) or Garmin Connect (connect.garmin.com), can make tough runs seema lot more rewarding. ‘Using an app suchas Strava to track your run, and share withfriends afterwards, can be a great way ofletting people see your progress – and itcan also make you accountable for stayingon track, so you’ll want to keep it up.’These apps often have a ‘like’ or ‘kudos’function, which gives fellow runners thechance to congratulate you and commenton your activities – and that in itself canbe very confidence-boosting, makingyou feel a firm part of the runningcommunity. Yay!
Don’t assumerunning will simply happenwhen you have a sparemoment. Set the day and time you expectto run, so you can fit it around work orfamily. ‘Be strategic when it comes to yourtraining schedule,’ says Agass. ‘It can befar too easy to arrive home from work andget settled on the sofa, making it difficult tohead back out of the door for a run.’ Playwith your routine and find a time that worksfor you. ‘Go for a pre-work run, but makesure you set out your running gear the nightbefore so you don’t waste time the nextmorning,’ adds Agass. ‘Early sessions willget you pumped for the day.’ Not amorning person? Perhaps bringing your kitto work and running during your lunchbreak or on the commute home might be abetter habit for you.
If all else fails, and you’renot injured, accept youmight simply need a bit of time off. ‘One ofthe most important things to remember isthat life is about balance, and running canbe exhausting,’ explains Emma Frain, headof fitness at Protein World (proteinworld.com). ‘Remember our bodies need timeoff. If we’re constantly trying to push forthat extra mile, something may eventuallygive. As our motivation comes from ourmind, a negative mindset [such as thinkingthat you’re not enjoying running right now]directly impacts our motivation and resultsin us finding it easier to give things up.’ Ifyou’re feeling low and not enjoying trainingas much as you did over the summer, itmight be time to take a bit of time off. Don’tfight it. Embrace the opportunity to dosomething different, such as yoga,swimming or cycling. That way, whenyou’re ready, you’ll come back to runningwith a renewed enthusiasm.
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