One of the “unspoken” great things about the Pittsburgh Marathon is the endurance, stamina and pure GRIT that Runners of Steel have. Most of our training happens in cold winter months while we prepare for race day challenges of unpredictable weather and our infamous bridges and hills. Based on the numbers of runners who take on the Pittsburgh streets every May, motivation to just keep running is likely not an issue on race day, but during these tough training months, you likely need to dig deep to find your running motivation.
Maybe during training you’re faced with icy conditions, an illness or injury, busy lives, or just plain out feeling like you cannot lace up your shoes and get out for a run. If you’ve ever felt this way, you are NOT alone. Even if it is hard to believe, there is a way to find that motivation and keep running toward your goal.
Here are a few ideas on finding your running motivation as we enter the mentally and physically tough weeks of training:
Run for YOURSELF
Even though you hear it on every flight, it is tough to remember that “putting on your own oxygen mask first” is super important, not just on airplanes but in life. When you run, you’re giving yourself a mental and physical boost so that you can be present in your home, friendships, work, and life.
Putting yourself first can be difficult (especially when you have to give up things like daylight, lunch hours, Saturday mornings) when training but it is important. This is a time that you have been given as a gift to grow and move yourself forward. Cherish it and don’t feel selfish. When you look back at what you have achieved by looking at the medal you’ll be earning - whether running your first 5K or 100th Marathon – you likely will have no regrets about the things you had to give up to get to where you are.
When you commit to running with a group, they become your support system and you’ll find that showing up happens a lot easier. Runs will pass by faster because you can get some social time in with your running buddies. They’ll be there to celebrate your goals and give you encouragement when things don’t go as you planned.
If running with a group isn’t something that thrills you, find a support system (even if they are friends or family that don’t run) to keep you accountable to your running plan and to be your emotional support.
Focus on Your WHY
For me, my motivation comes from focusing on my WHY. This one is the best way I’ve found to motivate myself to get out and run. I didn’t grow up a runner but started running after I had kids and now it is a long-term commitment for me, for my health and happiness. When the setbacks come (and they do), I have to dig deep to my core and remind myself that I am doing this so for
my mental and physical health so I can be the best mom and wife I can be. That’s my big why that gets me from training run to finish line to signing up for my next race.
To find that motivation, first think about your big WHY. Ask yourself, “what is my why – why am I doing this” – and not just “this run” but running as training for marathon weekend or running in general. It is not just the training run of the day – training plans are made with some flexibility to handle life’s challenges – but the bigger picture of how you will feel when you achieve a goal, finish a race, or have a healthier life.
Connecting with that why will give you power as you face those difficult running days. If you visualize that bigger picture of your why, next thing you know the training run will be complete and you’ll be MANY STEPS closer to your goal. Repeating that why over and over puts a deep in your brain and becomes part of your core. Next time you are struggling on a run or even getting out the door, repeat your why out loud and remind yourself of the big picture.
When your why becomes the loudest voice in your head – that motivation will drive you!
What motivates you to just keep running, even on the tough days?