12 Tips for supercharging your running motivation this autumn
"Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running"- Sarah Condor
As we say goodbye to Summer 2022 and welcome autumn and the return of something resembling a routine after the general chaos of the holidays, it is a great time to up your running game. It’s easy to let exercise take a back seat while enjoying the summer sunshine and indulging in one barbecue after another (life is rather too short not to let our normal routines slide a little when the weather gods grant us a proper summer). However, if you are starting to feel that exercise deserves a slightly more prominent role in your autumn/winter calendar, we’d like to help you achieve that goal.
Whether you are new to running or a seasoned marathon runner with multiple race medals gracing your walls, the following tips will help you to supercharge your running motivation and help you to create good habits that will go the distance, for the rest of 2022 and beyond.
- Be Realistic
Consider where you are at now before you decide on the form that your autumn running routine should take. If you haven't run for years, don't jump straight into wanting to run 5K every morning before work. Consider downloading a Couch to 5K programme and tackling that first. Setting goals that are achievable for your current fitness level and the time you have available will make you more likely to stick to your new routine in the longterm.
- Be Prepared (for all weathers and light levels)
Ignoring for a minute the wider implications of global warming, we have been blessed with a dry, sunny summer this year, so it's easy to forget that the British climate is often far less kind to us. Be prepared for all that the cooler seasons may throw at us by get yourself kitted out with a decent water-resistant, breathable running jacket, a good pair of running gloves and a multi-tasking running buff. If you don't have some already, invest in long sleeve running tops and some full-length running leggings to prevent your arms and legs from getting itchy and red when you come in from a cold run.
As a wise person once said, 'there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes'. By getting some cold and wet weather running kit you prevent the weather from throwing your training schedule off course.
- Get it Over With
Whatever time of day you normally run, hop straight to it without giving yourself the chance to back out. If you are a morning runner, jump out of bed without pressing the snooze button and put your running gear on immediately. Once you are dressed for the activity you are more likely to go ahead and do it than if you scroll through your phone or have a leisurely breakfast in your pyjamas first. If you run after work, consider running from the office or get changed and go straight out again as soon as you get home. Under no circumstances should you sit down or pick up the TV remote (both the sofa and the telly are the enemies of your running mojo).
- Don’t Give Up If Things Don't Go To Plan
If a stinking cold or a better offer than a wet pavement on a windy evening cause you to miss a run from time to time, don't be disheartened. If you have set achievable goals, a few instances of life getting in the way should not derail the achievement of your personal goals. Elite runners will tell you that mental strength is as important as physical strength, so train your brain to shrug off the occasional missed session as a minor blip in the pursuit of your larger goals.
- Find a Running Buddy
Going to the bother of organising a run with someone else makes you much less likely to talk yourself out of it. Thinking of a reasonable excuse and the getting in touch to cancel your plans is often more bother than just turning up and going running. If you struggle to speed up enough for tempo runs, buddy up with someone who is generally a bit faster than you, so that you can push yourself a bit to keep up. On the flip side, if you tend to run a bit too quickly for slow or recovery runs, pair up with someone a bit slower and challenge yourself to keep pace with them.
- Remember the Rush
It's easy for busy lives to push exercise down the priority list (it is, after all, more important to collect your kids from school and turn up for work than it is to ensure you've ticked that 10K off your daily schedule). If it gets to the point where you are hard pushed to remember why it's so important anyway, just remember that happy, fuzzy feeling you got when you dragged yourself out of bed at 5am that one time and squeezed in a few miles before heading to the office.
Runner's high is not a myth. The endorphins running produces boost your mood and make you feel more positive, so it really is worth trying to incorporate it into your exercise routine. If you find that time is scare, try reducing the minimum amount of time you think you should run. Remembering that mental training is as important as physical training, getting out and using that 20 minutes you have available to run 3K (where you would normally not get out of bed to do less than 5K) allows you to form good running habits week after week, even when you’re super busy. When your schedule calms down a bit you will find it easier to ramp up the mileage because the habit of getting out to run has already been formed.
- Set a Goal
Unless you are unnaturally good at striving for really long-term targets, it can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm for exercising regularly and eating well if your main aim it to live to 100. In order to add a bit more urgency to your new regime, it may be beneficial to set a personal goal with a deadline slightly closer than you 100th birthday. Think of a charity that means a lot to you, then book a race a few months down the line and ask friends and family to sponsor you to complete it. Being accountable to the charity and to those who have sponsored you will help you to stay focused and maintain your new running schedule.
If you don't feel confident enough to book a race at this stage, try signing up to a virtual challenge, which allows you to clock up miles in your own time and at your own pace, or download a running/fitness app that allows you to set personal goals. There are lots of free apps out there, including Strava, Nike+ Run Club, Runtastic and the quirky Zombies, Run! app, which motivates you by telling you a hoard of zombies is chasing you down the road!
- Follow a Training Plan
Whether you are an experienced runner looking to rediscover your running mojo or a newbie looking to develop a regular running habit, identifying a short to medium term goal and following a training plan to achieve it will help you to stay on track for this part of your running journey. A day-by-day running training plan takes decisions such as the distance and effort level of each run out of your hands. All you have to do is lace up your trainers and do what you're told!
- Mix it up
Running is great, but plodding the same route at the same time, day in and day out can get a bit boring. If you start getting bored by your run route, try mixing it up by doing one of the following:
o Link up with running friends and try running their regular routes instead.
o Mix in some online strength workouts specifically designed for runners. This will not only make your routine more interesting, it will also strengthen key muscle groups and guard against those niggling running injuries that can stop you in your tracks when you have only just got started.
o Run your route backwards - if you have a circular regular run route, run it the other way round from time to time. It's amazing how different the scenery can look when you do this and it can stop your brain and your legs from dreading the usual inclines.
- Join a Club
Running clubs are not full of advanced runners talking about how super-fast they are and swapping kale recipes. The majority or clubs include a wide range of runners of all shapes and sizes, with different abilities and fitness levels and a whole host of different reasons why they incorporate running into their lives. Whether you are new to running or a regular runner who has got stuck in a rut and wants to reinvigorate their routine, joining a running club will provide you with social interaction (in a sport renowned for being a bit lonely) and a number of scheduled group runs per week. It will also allow you to benefit from collective experience and expertise of your local running community.
- Create Your Own Running Soundtracks
Thanks to something called auditory motor synchronisation, running to music can actually make you run faster. Research also shows that it can make exercise more enjoyable. However, you can't just hit play on any old compilation. If you want music to help you achieve your running goals, you need to sit down and carefully select the right tunes for different types of run.
If you are heading out on a short, fast run, choose tracks with a 120 -130 beats per minute, such as Raise Your Glass by P!nk, Bon Jovi's It's My Life or Starlight by Muse. If you prioritise endurance over speed, then just opt for a nice long playlist of songs that you love, which will help distract you from the increasingly lead-like feeling in your legs!
- Reward Yourself
Initiating and sticking to a long-term running habit is not easy and you should reward yourself for reaching all those milestones along the way. You could book a race in a fun destination and enjoy a relaxing few days there once the race is completed. You could treat yourself to some nice chocolate when you've just smashed your longest ever run. There's no point counteracting all your good work by raiding the fridge after every workout, but your journey from wannabe running hero to consistent runner should be celebrated and rewarded. You deserve it.
Running is a great form of exercise and, once you are kitted out for it, it is pretty much free, which is good considering the current and prospective price of energy. Anyone who has given it a decent chance knows that running is also a great stress reliever, making it the perfect foil for today's busy lifestyles.
Finding the right tips and tricks to train yourself, both mentally and physically, to adopt a life-long running habit can be tricky. Our best advice is to try everything and then filter out the things that aren't working for you. Your running journey is personal to you, so resist the temptation to compare yourself to others. Enjoy your progress, forgive yourself for the stumbles along the way and always remember how good it feels to come back, sweaty, gross and high on endorphins at the end of a run.