Tips and trips to keep you motivated
by Melissa Schrotenboer
Hey Girls, my name is Melissa and I LOVE running. I am an assistant high school cross country coach, Girls on the Run coach and part-time fitness instructor. I have run a ton of 5ks, 10ks, a 15k, a number of 1/2 marathons, the Fifth Third River Bank Run a few times, and one marathon so far. Last year 2015 was my first Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and I LOVED it.
I want to to talk to you about staying motivated! We have busy lives with family, work, friends and maybe some volunteering. Our days can fly by in the blink of an eye and we lose track of time. But we also have goals, or maybe a bucket list and things we want to accomplish whether that be a first 5k or half Marathon or hitting a new PR in a race. With some many ways to stay busy, the question often comes up of how do we stay motivated to run or hit our running goals.
Here are my top ways to stay motivated:
- Find a running group – I have a group the always runs on Saturday morning for their long run, so even though when I want to sleep in Saturday I know they are going to be there
- Find a go-to running friend – finding someone that you can just run and chat with will make running more enjoyable. Not all runs are long or hard so finding a friend that can consistantly go with you will help you get out the door and enjoy your run. I have to give a big shout out to my sister, the best running buddy I have. Love you!
- Sign up for a race or a few races – to stay motivated through the winter I sign up for a few spring races that way I have something to train towards. I also look for races in fun places. For example, I am going to visit my grandparents in Florida at the end of February and I found a Coconut 5K to do down there while I am visiting. Run on vacation? Sure thing! Who wouldn’t want to run along the beach and ocean?
- Follow a runner the inspires you on Instagram – I follow a few different runners and bloggers on Instagram that inspire and motivate me. Seeing their workouts and pictures just helps me keep going.
- Get a running plan made for you by a coach – I just got my first personalized running plan made just for me with workouts at my paces and for the days that I run. It feels good to know that your workouts are all for purpose and will help you hit your goals.
I asked a Few of my Runner Friends to help me with this post and share what motives them.
- Energy, feeling better, weight, being able to hit goals to go faster and longer. –Jaime
- What keeps me motivated to run is signing up for 5ks and having my friends signing up with me. I have never been a runner but once I was successful at running my first mile without stopping it made me motivated to try and run another and another. Also, a great playlist helps motivate me to run! -Becky
- Energy and the energized feeling after a really good run; time with friends; health physically and spiritual and emotional renewal and revitalization; seeing and experiencing creation in ways only possible on foot. –Virginia
- I always keep some sort of goal in mind. A certain pace, distance, or race. Challenging myself keeps me motivated. I would also add that resting and not overdoing it keeps me motivated because I am less likely to burn out. After a few days of active rest (walking, yoga, etc) I end up looking forward to the next time I can get out and run. –Megan
- The runner’s high afterwards always makes me feel great. I am also competitive and I love seeing the improvements I am making. And signing up for races is a good way to make sure I keep going and challenging myself. -Whitney
- The best motivation is races! Runners are a very inclusive group and no one cares how fast you run except yourself. The feeling you have after finishing a race is unbeatable. -Susan
- I feel great after! Helps my anxiety. It allows this mama time to herself. And if you run with a friend it becomes girl time. –Dana
- No matter how hard it is to get out there (too early, too late, too cold, too hot…), you’re never sorry later that you did it! -Jennifer
My motivation story
by Jessica Kragness
I have a confession to make: for the last several (and by several, I mean like 10) years, I have been a somewhat dedicated treadmill runner. I know. I’m ashamed of myself. I am holding myself back from rationalizing and minimizing this terrible state of affairs (it’s only during the winter! There was lightning! There could be a mountain lion out there!), but the bottom line is simply that I loved me some easy miles in front of the tv before I left for work. It was convenient and got the job done.
Now that I have totally come clean about that, we shall move on to the tragic part of the story: my treadmill is gone. I won’t get into the whole long, sad tale, but there is an empty spot in my exercise room where my treadmill used to reside. Horrors! What will become of my training schedule now?! I crumpled into a nearly week-long depression filled with wine, chocolate and tears. I stared out the window at the ice, sleet, darkness and cursed these blasted Michigan winters. To say I felt about as “un-runnery” as I ever have would not be an understatement. (“Un-runnery.” Word of the day. For all my runners out there, I know that makes perfect sense to you. There are the days you feel like Kara Goucher, all sleek muscles and fast miles…and then there are the days you simply feel, well, un-runnery.)
Now, one of my absolute favorite things about being a runner who participates in races is that I always have something that I am working toward. And I’m always signed up as early as possible because, let’s face it, I’m cheap and signing up early saves a girl some cash. But, having a race on your calendar is basically like having Jimminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder reminding you, day after day, that you need to get outside and get your run in. Especially with a half-marathon or longer race. You can’t just phone that in. You have to put in the time and effort. So, even in the midst of my treadmill-less, un-runnery fog, I knew that I had a couple races on my calendar that simply would not tolerate my couch-surfing: the Gazelle Girl Half with her big brother the Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25K hot on her heels. (Can we just take a moment and acknowledge how freaking awesome it is that we get a double down medal for this?)
So, with those races in the back of my mind, I dragged myself out for a run after work out in the state park, as the roads around my house were definitely too icy and shoulder-less to truly run safely, and something incredible happened: It. Was. Awesome. Now, I wasn’t wearing my road shoes or anything, I made sure I had the correct off-road ice grabbing trail shoes I needed to do this thing right, knowing that if I had any reason to stop doing it I probably would…and yet, those couple of snowy miles changed everything. It wasn’t a particularly nice day or anything. It was well below 30 degrees and cloudy. There was a wicked wind coming off of Lake Michigan. The official sunset was only about 10 minutes after I was able to get out there to start running. But….the cold air invigorated me after eight hours of sitting at a desk in artificial light. Even though it was getting dark, the snow was reflecting the last bits of light and I had no problem getting my miles in before it was definitely “too dark.”
I had been cheating myself out of one of the best parts about being a runner: it happens outside. Sure, the treadmill is a heck of an easy solution and sometimes downright necessary, but it had become a crutch for me. Running had become just checking my daily workout off my schedule. But when getting my run done wasn’t “easy,” when it required some planning and effort, it meant more to me. I started scheduling around it. It became a ritual for my fiance and I to talk about our day while the light faded around us as we pounded out our easier miles on the trails. I started getting stronger from climbing those frozen dunes. My motivation to run had to come from the run itself. And it changed everything.
I would love to end there, all triumphant and running off into the sunset and all that, like every run from here on out is pure bliss…but everyone has runs that are epically bad. Maybe you slip on a wicked bit of ice and faceplant hard. Maybe it was a really tough work day and you’re just drained and the run is a bit of a slog. Maybe it’s so cold it feels like your contact lenses are freezing. You have to look for that motivation in each and every run. For example, using the “maybes” listed before: If a runner falls in the woods and no one is around to see it…did it really happen? (I guarantee you will laugh hysterically at how funny you are telling jokes lying face down on some random back-woods trail.) If you feel as exhausted before the run as after it, consider it practice for the last miles of a long race when you’re busted and have nothing left but willpower. If it’s so cold your tears are freezing, sing that Rocky theme song and think about what a bad ass you are and how the people in the houses with their heat are such wusses. So, I guess the ending is a triumphant run into the sunset. It always is once you realize you carry that sunshine inside of you, even on the most wintery of days. Run on, Gazelle Girls.
Jessica Krangess is a prosecuting attorney living in the Muskegon area with her fiancé. She is a long-time West Michigan resident who studied at Hope College and the Grand Rapids campus of the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She has been running for over a decade and is currently training for her first ultramarathon. The only thing keeping her head on straight most days is getting out the door for some fresh air and a couple miles!