The Return of Motivation

Lately, I’ve had this strange feeling like I’m not running. My Nike+ says I am, and on recollection, I know I am, but it just ‘feels’ like I’m not putting the miles like I used to. Something’s different, something’s comfortable and routine about it all.

I skipped the half marathon training long run (6 miles) this past weekend to decompress after a week vacation with the family and then walked 6 miles on the golf course (that makes up for it, doesn’t it?). Slept in on Monday (first day back at work after vacation) so I didn’t get a run in that day. On Tuesday, I got my butt out the door by telling myself to go 3 miles with the promise that I would then do the other 3 in the evening to make up the 6 I had skipped out on this past weekend.

So glad I didn’t give into the temptation of soft pillows and a comfy bed that morning. The sun was shining on my face, the air was perfect temperature, and the trees were beautifully in bloom. My little neighborhood 3 mile run felt new and fresh to me since I hadn’t run it in over a week. After the first few steps out the door, I committed to a 4 mile run (a small extension of my 3 miler). Then after my Nike+ clocked 4 miles, I decided to be late to work to go the extra two miles to make up the 6. That was so invigorating. My time was 1:07 – I’m getting faster!!

So I may not feel like I’m challenged and making progress, but the numbers are showing that I am. I’m looking for a renewed sense (challenge) in running. Thoughts are to add fartleks/interval training, hills (my next half will definitely have hills!), increase speedwork, reduce walk breaks during short runs, figure out how to get out to some trails to run (I have a motorcycle with limited luggage space), do more cross training (fun stuff) or run more 5K/10Ks during the year (with this new job, I think this will be more feasible).

The main thing was that I was getting into a routine of the same thing and I need to mix it up. Running with Luv has helped and I’ve enjoyed those rare times we can get out on the pavement (or trail) together, but they are few and far between.

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Advice for New Runners

I ran 6 miles tonight as self-training for the Oakland Half Marathon in March and as I walked for my cooldown back to my apartment, I started thinking about how far I’ve come in the last two years.

I started running in January 2008. My doctor suggested I walk 3 x per week for 20-30 minutes. I took her suggestion but found walking rather boring. A number of my friends run so I thought I’d give it a shot. I started by talking to my friends and reading online about running. I knew I didn’t have adequate shoes for running – they were cross-trainers and weren’t running shoes – so the first thing I did was buy a pair of $90-120 shoes along with running attire. I would be running indoors on a track (it’s cold in January in the Midwest) so I picked up tek shorts and wick-away shirts.

I set out for my first run. During my research I came across a Couch to 5K training plan. The first week was 60 seconds of running then walk for 90 seconds then repeat for 20 minutes total. That first 60 seconds was brutal for me! I was out of breath and it hurt. But I kept at it.

On March 29th, my birthday, I ran my first 5K. It was my first time running outdoors and was a chilly day and it was also the first time I ran 3 miles. My boyfriend was running beside me and cheering me on. I did walk a few times but he motivated me to run sooner than I would had I been alone. I finished the 5K in under 40 minutes (which was my goal!).

Now, two years later on March 28th, I’ve decided my next goal is to run a half marathon. This time on the West coast, where I’m now living. I would have liked to sign up for a training program for the half but things didn’t work out for me to sign up in time. So I’m doing a self training using tools online and my very handy Nike+ gadget.

Back to the 6 miles I ran tonight. During my cooldown I thought about how during that 6 miles (70 minutes!) of running I didn’t think “this hurts” or “I’m bored”. I then began to wonder why.

I think there is just a point in your fitness level where you stop thinking those thoughts. I believe it happened when I started running 4+ miles regularly. And that didn’t happen until I signed up for a 5K training group. Having others around to push me to run farther than 3 miles was the key to getting over the hump of negative thoughts about running. Just look in your area online and at local running stores, you’ll be sure to find a group that runs regularly (free or for a low yearly fee).

I wish I could give advice to new runners to tell them to not give up hope and to share my experiences in hopes that it will help them and they will be able to enjoy running like I do now.

Advice about running

  • Buy running shoes before you start running
  • Buy appropriate running gear for the weather, non-cotton material is great!
  • Join a group – it’ll be the best thing you ever did regarding running
  • Don’t give up, you’ll amaze yourself one day
  • It’s ok to walk. Walk when you need to, but go the distance you set out to do, no matter how much walking is involved.