Running Against The Heat
With the summer heat ramping up, we’ve departed from our initial series of “101” articles (Hydration 101, Nutrition 101, Safety 101, Warmth 101, Stretching 101 and Motivation 101) and decided to expand on the “motivation” theme this month for runners.
Some of us runners are finding it difficult these days to stick to our New Year’s resolutions (e.g., “stop being a weather wimp,” “get out at least three days a week for a run”). When it’s 90 degrees and the air is so thick you can drink it, it’s so much more difficult to face the elements. And it’s not just the elements – some of us run or exercise indoors in the summer, and for some reason it’s even difficult to work up the “feel like it” for the usual gym or pool workout.
So, we started asking each other to share our own running secrets. Just how do you overcome the inertia that sets in this time of year?
One of the keys that kept popping up was that of running goals. One of the favorite goals one of our staff has is to run in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler every year. He first ran it in 1980, and has run in every Cherry Blossom race since – except for five, when either he or a member of his family was ill. One of his friends tries to walk 100 hours in the first 100 days of every new year. Try to find an event or activity that you can focus on and start your own “streak.”
“PAY” YOURSELF FIRST – We mentioned this in last month’s article, “Motivation 101.” With apologies to John Lennon, “life has a habit of getting in the way of plans” (also see “Missed Opportunities” below). How many times does that noontime yoga session or after work run get hijacked by yet another “important” meeting? If you get your running in first thing in the morning, it’s done. That’s “your” time, and very difficult for others to encroach upon. And, one of the greatest motivators is inertia or habit or that streak we mentioned earlier. “I’ve gotten a run in every day this year so far!”
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES – To tag on the above thought, many of us have the best of intentions for running and exercising – but then life intervenes, and our planned noon-time or after-work run becomes subsumed by the “crisis of the day.” Often times, however, opportunities present themselves unexpectedly – but we’re not prepared to take advantage of them. By keeping a gym bag packed with essentials in the office or the car, we can sometimes take advantage of an unexpected break in our schedule to sneak a workout in.
TAKE A BREAK – Let’s face it – sometimes we DO need a break from running, some “down time.” Sometimes it IS best to take a day off to rest and rejuvenate. Every once in awhile, DO roll over, burrow back into the covers and get an extra hour sleep. Or settle in and watch that football game or read that book you’ve been meaning to. Chances are, your body and your psyche need it occasionally! It’s also important to remember that proper running technique isn’t going 100% all the time. Most endurance athletes train in cycles of “hard” and “easy” periods. This applies to the rest of us as well. Understand though that “easy” days don’t mean sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons! Easy days generally take the form of either reduced levels/intensity of our running, or cross training of some type.
BREAK IT UP – Again, to tag on the above thought, doing the same exercise day in and day out can easily lead to boredom, frustration, and generally burning out. Mix it up. Either introduce something new and different into your running routine (e.g., add speedwork or hills), or do something entirely new and different. Ride a bike or take a spin class. Go for a swim. Take a Pilates or yoga class. What did Einstein say, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” One could say the same thing applies to motivation!
BE A MENTOR – Remember how it was when you first embarked on your training program? You were filled with exuberance, and looked forward to it. Every now and then, some of us find ourselves faced with “burnout” or tedium, and can’t get the “fire” back. One guaranteed way of getting it back is to “mentor” someone else who’s starting out. We experience this at the running store all the time – being able to help that new walker or runner out with some encouragement and training advice is a huge boost for both of us!
REWARD YOURSELF – Treat yourself occasionally as a reward for all your hard work. Go to the spa. Get a massage. Have dessert (or two!). These little rewards can keep you focused and energized.
THE BEST LAID PLANS – Don’t think you have to stick to your running plan 100% of the time. If you have an hour workout planned, and something comes up to cut it short – take advantage of the time you do have. An hour running workout cut short is better than no running at all. And, even more important than the physical aspect, the psychological boost from simply getting the run in is enormous.
REMEMBER THE BOTTOM LINE – Try to stay focused on why you’re doing this in the first place. Keep that vision of a healthier, happier (skinnier, stronger, whatever) you in your mind. Don’t forget to have fun. “If it’s not fun, why do it?”