We’ll be the first to admit it: some days, it can feel impossible to drag yourself out the front door for a run. Even avid runners struggle with motivation–so if you feel like getting your head in the cardio game is a major struggle, you’re not alone.
There’s no way around it: running is tough. Part of the reason? There’s no buffer between you and the ground. Without the pause button on those gym machines or the ability to coast on a bike, running is a commitment that you have to make with every single step. It’s a commitment from your body and from your mind to keep going, and going, and going. But with that commitment comes the rewards. Hello, #runnershigh.
If you’ve tried running and it feels too hard it doesn’t mean you’re out of shape or that you’re not a “runner”. Trust us when we say everyone — barring certain injuries — can be a runner. It is, however, a workout that takes getting used to — both physically and mentally, which is why consistency and motivation are key.
Running is tough, but so are you
Seasoned marathoners, pro athletes, and experienced runners alike can all attest to the fact that running is constantly challenging, it doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger and so you can push farther. That’s part of what’s so great about it. There’s always room to get better and push yourself further.
It’s also easy to set your goals. Because running happens in minutes and miles, the goals you set are easily measurable. Ticking off your fastest 5K or longest run ever is such a satisfying feeling — and it’s a sport where your hard work really pays off and you can track progress in the long term.
But if you’re going to make running a habit that sticks, your mental commitment is as crucial as the physical one. Getting your legs moving a few days a week — especially when they don’t want to — requires intrinsic motivation. Something in your brain that says “let’s keep going” when your body says “let’s go home”.
You’ll find the strength you never knew you had
Our bodies are able to push through way more than our mind thinks we’re capable of (childbirth, anyone?), and more often than not it’s your mind that makes you stop running (or doing any type of exercise), not your body.
Realizing that you’re stronger than your brain lets on is a pretty incredible feeling, and once you get over the initial discomfort, you’ll probably get addicted to just how rewarding it is. We love running because it gives you great physical results, but it also rewards motivation and when you get over that hump, it will always keep you coming back for more, and that’s the basis of any successful fitness routine.
Running is something that belongs only to you
There are so many fantastic workouts and we could never choose just one to do. A healthy fitness routine has balance and variety. We love our HIIT circuits, spin classes, weight routines, swim laps… we could go on and on. But if we had to choose one workout to never give up, it would have to be running.
Here’s why: it’s a workout that only requires you to show up. You don’t need any equipment, you don’t need a gym membership, you don’t need someone else to do it with. It only belongs to you. As a mom, when everyone needs you to be everything for them, it’s really nice to have something that’s just for you.
So, are you inspired to lace up your shoes? Check out our top tips on building and maintaining mental toughness to help you hit the ground running (pun very intended).
How to stay motivated with running
- Commit to consistency
If you’re new to running or getting back into it, your main hurdle is going to be fighting through the first 3 weeks. We’re not going to lie to you: we’ve been there before, too, and the first few runs are going to feel painful, uncomfortable, and make you want to throw in the towel. Don’t panic if you feel way more winded than you expected: a few weeks of consistency (even starting with 3 runs per week) will get you over the hump and into smoother, satisfying runs.
Remember the basics: focus on steady breathing, keeping your stride even, and listening to your body–it’s totally okay (and smart) to take walk breaks as you need them.
- Variety is the spice of life (and laps)
Our brains can get bored pretty quickly, and without something to focus on, they’ll quickly default to focusing on discomfort. If you’re running on the treadmill or doing the same neighborhood loop every day, you’re going to get bored. So, how can you break that?
- A change of scenery can be a total gamechanger. If you have the ability to switch up the trails or roads you run on, take advantage of it.
- Changing up your pace helps, too. Go on long, slow runs through the park, try speed intervals at your local track (or treadmill), or crank out some hills in your neighborhood.
- If all else fails, a great playlist can save a tough run. Make a few different playlists of different tempos with songs that motivate and energize you, and switch them out based on your mood and type of run you’re going for.
- Choose your why
When you make the decision to commit to anything, ask yourself daily why you’re doing it. Why are you going out for that run? What does it mean to you? What do you want to accomplish?
There’s no right or wrong answer here: you get to decide this for yourself. Whether you want to set a personal best 5K time, improve your physical health, or running a race for a charity close to your heart, don’t let go of what drives you because it’s what will keep you going when things get tough (or tiring).
- Get comfortable with discomfort
Some runs will feel like you’re floating — you may even hit the feeling of “runner’s high” — and other days, you’ll feel like your legs are made of cement.
Bad runs are like bad days: they’re inevitable, but with time, they’ll come less often than the good ones. The key to overcoming bad runs is how you react to them. If you’re not feeling great, all you have to do is slow down, check in with your breath, and appreciate the run for what it is: movement.
The key to more good runs is keeping your relationship with running positive, and use the bad runs as a chance to think about what went wrong. Reflect on what you ate, how much water you drank, your sleep the previous night, and what happened that day. And remember that sometimes, a bad run is just a bad run. All you have to do is try again tomorrow.
- Make the habits stick
You’ve created consistent habits, you’ve found what drives you, and you’ve established a good relationship with running. What comes next? Maintenance. This is where the fun starts: it’s when running becomes easy enough that it’s enjoyable, but still hard enough to challenge you.
Look for ways to keep it fun: join a running club and use it as a way to meet new people. Start your mornings with an early run to help wake you up and energize you for the day. Use your runs as a 30-minute midday break from work to increase your productivity for the afternoon. Or use running as a way to get into mindful meditation.
We’ll leave you with one more thought as a final bit of inspiration from Mina Samuels, author of Run Like A Girl: “Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.”
Want more fitness tips and exercises for postpartum wellness and getting your body back after birth? Check out our free iOS app!