I aspire to be an amazing runner. I want to place in my age group at a race (I’ve come close twice, but never made it). I dream of qualifying for Boston! My reality, however, is that I am a runner who very easily loses motivation. I think I like running. Like, I am pretty positive that I find running generally enjoyable. At the very least I really like being outside, I LOVE it when I have time just to do nothing but chat with friendly folks moving in a forward fashion, I adore the satisfaction after a race, and I get giddy when I add my run to myfitnesspal and see that I can now eat ALL of the brownies. Damn, I really love those brownies.
Knowing all of these benefits – the camaraderie, the pride, the delicious baked goods – you would think that I would just be ultra motivated. This just isn’t the case. I register for monthly races, not out of passion for racing, but because I know that if I have paid for a race, I am much more likely to at least do SOME training for it, and therefore not totally lose all my base as a casual runner. This tendency towards loafing made one of my current goals a difficult one to undertake – running 100 consecutive days, at least one mile a day, at a pace that can be considered, at least somewhat generously, a jog.
I know myself and I knew that if I really wanted to succeed at this, I had to make it somehow worth more than just a happy clap from myself and a big pat on the back from my husband. The pride of achieving a goal is a wonderful motivator – just not necessarily for 100 straight days. I thought about what I might need to help myself motivate, and I thought about what sometimes children need to get on the right path to something. PRIZES!
And so, the prize box was born. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Effective? Today will be day 46 straight, so I feel like it is going pretty well! The prize box is nothing fancy, just a humble plastic basket that was sitting around the house, full of folded over index cards. Before setting out for my 100 days, I came up with different prizes of various degrees of cost or time. Some are tiny little self indulgent things – like having my husband take the kids to a movie so I can lay in bed and watch Netflix for two hours, or having a mid-afternoon nap on a Sunday. Some have higher personal value – like allowing myself a day free from calorie counting or the whole family having to indulge me in a trip to the zoo. Some have a cash value that is relatively small – a new pair of super fuzzy socks, or new body scrub (coupled with the time to use it and soak in a long bath!!). Some even venture into more financially impactful – like a new dress from my favorite online store, or finally getting that next tattoo I have been wanting. I came up with around 15 prizes, more prizes than I would actually get over the course of 100 days, so that I wouldn’t end up knowing exactly what prize I would get on any given day.
Then I started off – the idea being that every ten days I would get a prize. On day 10 I got to go buy a new jigsaw puzzles that I got to get the whole family (my parents included!) to help me with. On day 20 I was rewarded with that new good smelly body scrub and a ridiculously long bath in a jacuzzi tub with a book. Day 30 was registering for a race I had been eyeing (Thanksgiving Day 5K to benefit So Others Might Eat). Day 40 was absolutely the biggest and best prize so far – I indeed got to make that appointment for my next tattoo!
As I reflect on the last 45 days of daily running, I realize a few things. One is that once you really get into this streak thing (maybe around day 15), it becomes almost second nature to leave the house at 9pm to get in that one mile. I feel like it is going to be kind of odd after I hit day 100 and I just take a day off. I realize how much I miss the feeling of totally fresh, well rested legs (I am generally a person who really respects rest days). I’ve noticed that some days are good and some are bad and it frequently has nothing to do with the day before, but good company and great music can make or break a run. I also realize that I am indeed just an overgrown child, because on those days where I really just don’t want to move off the couch, I can remind myself that I am only a few more days away from a prize – and out the door I go.
What motivates YOU to run? What is the silliest thing you have done to make sure you achieve your goals?