When I thought about writing this post, it was about exercise, but really it could be about anything. Just change the goals and targets to reflect your needs.
I started the couch to 5k program last march, when The Girl was just 4 months old. Then in October I managed to run a 10k. Then I stopped. I let myself have a week off, because my body felt like it had been hit by a bus. Then I went back to work after maternity leave, with an on my feet all day job. My varicose veins absolutely killed, and I found running exceptionally difficult (although I do believe that initially, while I was off work, it had helped my veins a lot). Then I left work, and started earning as a freelance writer, and found I just didn’t have much time. So, I kept making excuses, and from October to Christmas I may have ran 5 times, the last time barely managing 3k.
The week after Christmas, I decided it was time to get going again. I’ve gained about half a stone in the last 2 months. Which isn’t terrible, but I’ve also lost a lot of fitness, my veins are throbbing, and my clothes are tight. Yet the idea of going out for a run, which I’d once loved, was horrific. So, I decided to go back to the start. I downloaded the c25k week one podcast, and went for a run in the frosty park.
I expected to find it easy, and concentrate on improving my speeds. Just using the podcasts as a structure to keep me going. In truth, I’d ran less as soon as I’d completed the program. I need the structure or I just kind of let it slide.
But no, it wasn’t easy at all. Don’t get me wrong, it was nowhere near as difficult as the first time. But the running 60 seconds left me out of breath. However, I did run faster (I run around the same park, so could tell how far I’d ran) than before, and the recovery was much quicker, after maybe 30 seconds of walking, I was fine. Part of me found this comforting, I’m not totally back to the start, but then I’m nowhere near where I was when I completed the 10k. And I’m annoyed with myself for wasting my hard work.
This got me thinking of ways I could keep myself motivated to carry on this time.
Have a Big Goal
Once my 10k race was booked, I’d got something big to work for. Something I knew I would be proud of. Once that goal had gone, I stopped. So, I’m booking another one. Then when that’s done, I need to book another. Maybe to beat my time, or maybe to try a half marathon. I’m not someone who runs because I enjoy running. So, I need to have a purpose.
The big goal is great, but when something is months away, and progress is gradual, it’s hard to see results. To keep motivated, I need smaller targets. That’s why I loved the c25k program. Every week had a slightly longer run. Then when it had finished I floundered, running pointlessly. So now, I aim to set myself goals for each week. Sometimes that might be running further, others faster, or maybe even a hilly route. I get bored and I need challenges.
Podcasts or Audiobooks
I can’t run to music. I love music, but it doesn’t take my mind off the actual running enough to make me forget I hate it. I just get bored and want to go home. Podcasts, or a great audiobook I want to get to the end of, I find make me want to be out there running. Especially if that’s the only time I listen to them.
Shallow, I know. But if I’m having a writing slump, I buy stationary. New running gear makes me want to use it. It’s a short-term fix, but it works.
I do this with everything too. I tell myself, if I can do something, be it running, or housework, that I don’t want to, I can have a treat. This is ridiculous, as it’s all in my head, so I could quite easily lie to myself and have the treat anyway. But I don’t. Often.
Remember Why You’re Doing It
Now, I don’t run to lose weight, or to get super fit. I run, because it helps my self-confidence, and makes me feel good. Which is great. It’s for my mental health as much as anything else, and I think that’s incredibly important. It also means I can eat take away and chocolates all the time, and not gain weight. So, I love eating more than I hate running?! If you are looking to lose weight, maybe a healthy diet would also help!
Of course, the best way to stay motivated to do something, is to make it something you love!