No one will argue that it’s been a tough year for running. It’s time to turn the page and start 2021 motivated to run. In 2020 most goal races were either cancelled or postponed. Difficult lockdowns in many countries and cities making exercising problematic and many runners left with a challenging training environment with not a lot to run for.
While the start of 2021 marks the end of a horror year, it also marks the start of new year that’ll likely have many of the same challenges for runners in many cities around the world. So… despite all of the negatives, how do you start 2021 motivated to run, and by run we mean run often, get fit and achieve goals. Well keep reading, because here it is.
Step 1 – Goals
Why do you want to run? What do you want to achieve?
Write down some goals. Pick a race to train for (if they are going ahead in your part of the world)
Goals are important to keep yourself motivated and accountable. Set yourself goals that are difficult but achievable. Aim to bite off slightly more than you can chew and chew like crazy.
When we set ourselves goals that are too easy, we become bored. We lose motivation because the challenge doesn’t drive us. Set goals for training as well as races. Look at step 2 for the metrics we should be goal setting.
Alternatively, when we set ourselves goals that are too hard, we are discouraged and lose interest. Find the goal that’s right for you. In running we have the timeclock as a measurement, and this makes goal setting relatively easy. You can look at what you’ve achieved previously and set goals based on the improvement we seek.
With goal setting you can look at it like a series of mountain peaks with each one you climb the next one sends you slightly higher. Climb one mountain and then set your sights on a slightly higher peak.
Reaching each peak will give you long term motivation as you strive towards the next, the secret is finding the right goal for you.
Step 2 – Measure progress
With running like most things, what we measure we can improve. Through measuring and tracking performance we develop a clear idea of whether we are getting better or worse.
In running the we should measure mileage, pace and consistency. We should measure to help our curiosity in our own performance and allow us to understand development. Measuring our performance builds self-awareness.
Having highlighted the importance of measuring running performance it’s equally important to not micro manage our performance. There are many metrics our technology allows us to measure that we don’t need. Stick to rock solid measurements that track performance.
Mileage – If you increase mileage you will improve
Pace- Measure pace on intervals and workouts to measure improvement
Consistency – Track the days you run, track the habit and make it part of your routine.
Step 3 – Routine
Make running part of your routine. Make running a habit and you’ll improve.
Like any habit making it easy to achieve and/or hard to say no and you’ll run more consistently and improve.
The habit of running starts by putting your shoes on and heading out the door. Make it easy for you to get started every scheduled run. Put your clothes and shoes out the night before, if there’s rain scheduled put your jacket out with your clothes. If your equipment is ready when you wake up you’ll be half way out the door.
Make the pattern of your routine the same every time. If you can fit it into your life run at the same time every day. Have a plan for your run, either build a schedule or have a coach do this for you. For the athletes I help I plan a weekly schedule that fits into the challenges of life. But we try and make sure they know exactly what they are doing when and then manage the variables that get in the way.
Follow the same ‘pre game ritual’ and have your gear ready every night before you go to bed. When you develop a habit and build it into your routine, you’ll tie your running performance to your routine. Do this for long enough and it’ll just be something that you do.
Your routine must help your running progress. If you miss runs or wake up unmotivated to run, look at your routine first.
Step 4 – Mindset
Staying in peak motivation for a long period is difficult. Running is not an easy pursuit and there will be hard workouts, average race results and injury concerns along the way. Thinking with a medium-term mindset means setting goals greater than your current training block and having a mindset that’s unshakeable when things get hard.
To be a good runner you don’t need to be tough all the time. Easy runs should be just this and you should relax and enjoy. But we need to be ready to ‘Get tough, when it gets tough.’ What I mean by this is when a hard workout comes on the schedule be prepared to get tough. When you race be prepared for it to get hard at some stage. When it gets hard in a race, get tough. Grit your teeth and run hard.
On the flip side when things are easy let them be easy. Be ready to change your mindset and adapt to the situation in training and races that is required.
Keep your running in perspective – If you are running consistently and working towards a plan running feels good both physically and mentally. You will feel ups and downs along the way, but this discomfort will be short lived. You’ll come through and it will strengthen you.
To help you through the tough times look at your routine, progress measurements and goals. If your routine is working, you’ll see progress with the metrics you measure, and you’ll be achieving your goals.
2021 arrives with an opportunity for each of us to give not just running but life a red-hot crack. Sometimes that means the daily battle of showing up and doing the work. Every time we show up and do the training is a victory worth celebrating. We all want a new personal best, make sure you train like you deserve one.