Motivation 101: Don't Think; Just Go
The hardest part of running is getting out the door. It’s a cliché, sure, but a significant chunk of truth lies in the fact that the most challenging part of racking up miles can be removing yourself from your bed/desk/couch, putting on your gear, and heading straight for the door—no stopping at the fridge, Facebook or for any other distraction.
Here are a few ways to motivate when you’d really rather not:
Sounds simple, but when you’re feeling blah, pulling together all your stuff—from socks to GPS to water to sports bra—can seem like a speed bump you just can’t get over. If you’re going to run in the morning, lay out your stuff the night before. Running over your lunch break? Ditto: Pack your bag (and your lunch) the night before. If after work is your plan, gather everything before you leave for work and pile it in the bathroom. You get home, you empty your bladder, you change, you go. The couch—or the bag of chips—doesn’t even have a chance to speak up.
Don’t think - just go.
Four words that can instantly change your perspective. Put your brain on cruise control and don’t think about how warm your bed is, how whiny your kids are, how massive your pile of work is; they’re not excuses for you not to run. In fact, they’ll all be there when you get back—and, because of a few endorphin-laced miles, you’ll be better prepared to deal with them.
Visualize yourself with just one mile left.
Whether you’re planning on running 3 or 13 miles, close your eyes and mentally see yourself with one mile to go. Your shirt is soaked, your legs are strong, your spirit is soaring, and you’re feeling like a rock star. Now get up and go chase that feeling.
Plant a reward.
Nothing wrong with holding a little carrot out in front of you. You can pay yourself for every mile you run ($.50 a mile adds up fast, by the way); or promise yourself a House of Cards binge, post-run; or tell yourself you’ll stop for a (non-fat) vanilla latte on the way home from the trail. Just put out a small, relatively healthy reward you’ve been craving—and don’t claim it until your miles are done.
Write it down.
Right after you run, write down three or so words that describe how you’re feeling at that exact moment. Still sweaty, maybe still breathing hard, just grab a pen and go: happy, strong, confident, accomplished, powerful, content…whatever comes to mind. Then tape those words somewhere—bathroom mirror, computer screen, fridge door—so they’ll be a weapon when you’re in your next I-don’t-want-to-go mood. That mood hits, and all you have to do is read ‘em and lace up.
Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.