By Ashley Baker
I know it may sound twisted to some, but I love running. I love having that mental conversation with myself to see if I can push that extra half a mile, or pick up my speed to beat my average pace by 10 seconds. I love setting goals and seeing hard work and dedication pay off. I have my good days of running where I make it 5 miles no problem, but I also have my days where I struggle to make it 1 or 2 miles and I am left feeling defeated, wanting to quit. No matter which type of run I have, I am always glad I got out there and did it, but for some reason, this feeling alone is not enough to keep running consistently.
I am a mother, I work full time, and I spend roughly two hours a day on my commute to work. I have more than enough excuses for why I don’t train consistently, but in all reality, there is no excuse. I still find time to sit on the couch to watch TV or sleep in an extra hour on the weekends. I have found that there are a few things that I can do that help motivate me to get out and run.
The first thing that I do when I am looking to get back into running consistently is I decide on a goal I want to achieve. My most recent goal was to run a half marathon. I didn’t care about my pace or my time – I just wanted to run the entire thing. Once I decided on this goal I started looking up training plans. When I am searching for a training plan I try to be as realistic as possible. Not every suggested training plan will work for everyone’s schedule. I know I have a busy schedule and I cannot fit a run in every single day – so what will work for me? Generally, I know I have most of my free time in the evenings during the week and mornings on the weekend, and that I can fit in at least three runs per week, sometimes four.
Once I find a training schedule based on what I am realistically able to dedicate time to, I determine how long I will need to be ready to reach my goal – in this example to complete a half marathon I planned twelve weeks of training. Sticking to a training schedule is very important to reach your goal and to avoid injuries, so make sure you are honest with yourself about your current running levels and your schedule. When my training schedule is complete, I start searching for a race to sign up for. I have found that if I make an investment in a race, and have a set date, it helps me stick to my training plan. When I find a race, I make a countdown calendar with the number of weeks and which days to schedule my runs.
On days where I am supposed to run I am still able to find excuses like ‘I need to cook dinner’, or ‘it’s raining outside’, or ‘I have too much laundry to get done’, but I always tell myself to, at the very least, get my running gear on. If I take two minutes to get my running clothes on and my shoes laced up I will almost always get out there and do it even if I had all these excuses not to in the first place.
Around five or six weeks into my training, I can run farther and much more comfortably than when I first started. I also have found a change in my attitude – about my health, my body, and my overall mood. This alone is motivation to keep going.
Once race day has come I have put in hours and hours of hard work. When I finally reach that final stretch my thoughts are usually ‘thank gosh, I am almost there – I am never doing this again,’ but as soon as I cross that finish line my only thought is ‘I cannot wait to sign up for the next one’. The feeling of pride and sense of accomplishment I get is so incredible that I am already thinking about the next challenge.
I typically give myself a couple weeks of down time or light running after a big race, but then I establish my next goal and go after it. It is a challenge every day for me to consistently run, and I have found myself countless times having to start this process all over, but I truly enjoy it and more importantly I enjoy how it makes me feel about myself. It is my time – to unwind from the stresses of being a mom and working full time, to strive to be healthy, and to overall feel better. The last thing to keep in mind is that everyone can be a runner. Whether you run 2 miles at a pace of twenty minutes per mile or you complete the Boston marathon with a pace of eight minutes per mile. The fact that you are getting out there and moving your feet makes you a runner. Just keep running!
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