Lacing up your sneakers and going out for a run — whether it’s pounding pavement or braving the treadmill — is commendable no matter the distance. Still, some days, putting on a pair of running shoes and tackling mile after mile simulates an effort level similar to climbing Mount Everest (or at least it feels that way). Sound familiar?
Fear not, runners! Here, experts share their essential motivation tips for rough run days to keep you pushing forward.
FIND YOUR WHY
Maybe you’re someone who runs because it gives you an opportunity to do something with friends other than hit up happy hour. Or, perhaps you simply love the feeling of the post-stride runner’s high. Whatever your reason, Jess Movold, coach at New York City’s Mile High Run Club, says identifying your reason for running is key to lasting success in the sport.
“I find doing things that you hate has a toxic connotation,” she says. “You should enjoy your activity. Finding pleasure in your run can be as simple as shifting your outlook to be positive before even taking the first stride. That’ll help you foster a healthier relationship with the sport.”
FIND THE RIGHT RUN FOR YOU
Set a distance or time goal that feels attainable and right for you and your body. Maybe it’s a mile, maybe it’s an hour. If you start by saying “Today I want to walk or jog for 20 minutes,” then that gives you a parameter for how long you’ll be working. If something doesn’t go right, that’s OK, too. The next time, you can set out with the same goal. It’ll be super rewarding to watch yourself progress over time.
START OR FINISH AT A PLACE THAT EXCITES YOU
No wonder you’re dreading that morning treadmill run: The gym isn’t exactly the most dazzling spot to kickstart your day. Mix things up by beginning or ending your miles at your favorite coffee shop, park or juice bar, suggests Hollis Tuttle, a run coach and trainer in New York City. Just remember: coffee before, protein shake after.
BREAK THINGS UP
When your run feels wonky after just a few minutes, you don’t need to totally scrap the effort for the day. Instead, break up the distance with things that could make it all feel a tad less mundane. “For example: You could do 5 squats, 10 jumping jacks or 10 alternating reverse lunges every half-mile,” suggests Tuttle. “Those shorter-distance stints will fly by, and all that work will help strengthen the posterior chain.”
FIND A MOTIVATING MANTRA
Often times, negative self talk can put you in a negative headspace. Rather than saying, “I have to go for a run” with despair, say “I get to go for a run!” with excitement, suggests Tuttle. Then, find a phrase (or a few different ones) that keep you amped up over the course of activity — and say them out loud. Seriously. One study published in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences found that basketball players passed the ball faster when they motivated themselves out loud, and that this motivational self-talk benefited tasks based on speed, strength and power.