If this isn’t motivation to shed those extra pounds, I don’t know what is.
Life doesn’t slow down because we want to be fit or run a marathon. Finding time to squeeze training in can be hard and let me tell you, we can come up with some pretty good excuses. Fight the urge to be lazy or skip a workout and use these helpful tips to keep going strong.
- Warm up your clothes: Pop your sports bra, shirts, pants, and even your socks in the dryer for a couple minutes. Slipping on warm gear is sure to get rid of that chill you have when looking out your window into the cold.
- Warm up yourself: Take a quick shower allowing the hot water to envelope your skin, being careful not to get your hair wet. It’ll warm your body and get your muscles ready to move.
- Warm up inside: Once you’re dressed properly for a cold-weather workout, do your warm-up inside rather than outside. Run up and down the stairs, do jumping jacks or a round of push-ups, or whatever you need to do to get your heart rate up without getting sweaty. You’ll feel warm and loosened up when you step out the door, and you can start running right away to stay warm. Here are warm-up ideas that can be done indoors (even in a small apartment space!).
- Blast a tune that speaks to you: Whether it’s Beyoncé, Adele, or Pitbull that lights a fire inside you, use your favorite upbeat song to get you psyched for a run. You can dance and scream lyrics as you slip on your sports bra and sneaks. This is a great technique when you’re really not feeling a run because it can instantly flip a switch and help you head out the door fast. Continue the musical motivation by listening to a newly crafted running mix.
- Go for a change of scenery: Running the same neighborhood loop every week? No wonder you’re not excited to run. Mix up your running route every few workouts for some inspiration.
- Schedule a date with a fitness buddy: Having trouble motivating yourself? Then use a friend to help. If you make a date to meet outside for a run, you can’t make excuses and back down. Check out our tips for finding the right fitness buddy.
- Shop for new gear: Whether you go big and buy a new merino wool shirt or just splurge on a new pair of warm running socks, the idea of slipping on new gear is sure to inspire you to get outside. New gear will not only give you the kick in the pants you need, but it’ll also make your runs more comfortable, which will help motivate tomorrow’s workout. Our picks of cold-weather reflective running gear are bound to inspire you!
Today I woke up at 6am and drove 45 mins in the snow to derby practice, only to find it was cancelled and had to drive all the way home again. Rather than chalk it all up to a snowy, wasted day, I decided to go for a run in the falling snow! When I got to my local track there had only been one other person on it since the snow started falling, and the track looked MAGICAL. The runner had been running in concentric circles all the way around the track, leaving clean, fresh footprints. I wished that I had brought a camera! When I got home I wanted to share the magic with all of you, so I googled “running track snow” so that I could at least give you guys a visual similar to what I saw. I scrolled down and found this image, which looked exactly like what I had seen this morning…
…and then I read its description only to find out that it WAS the same track! Such a lucky coincidence and I am so glad that I could share it with all of you!
On a side note, my first run in the snow was perfection, complete with catching snowflakes on my tongue. While winter brings with it many obstacles when it comes to outdoor running, these special moments make it all worthwhile. Go out there and experience winter like most people never do! Just make sure you either get non-slip winter running shoes or find a place that isn’t icy. While a broken ankle WILL give you an excuse to hibernate inside all winter, let’s try to avoid it.
YES! Three miles is too much to start with! Three miles should be your goal at the beginning, meaning you should take a couple weeks to work up to it. If you can already run 2 miles pretty comfortably then 3 miles would be an okay immediate goal, but if you are not a runner at all you should start with something smaller and more manageable. Otherwise you run the risk of injury from over-exertion.
Start out with a mile or even half mile of alternating walking and running. No distance is too little. Seriously. It’s important that you train your mind now to be proud of every little thing that you do. Once you can run the entire distance non-stop, increase by half or even quarter mile increments. It might seem like those small distances are not enough to get results, but running is kind of like building a house…you need to build the foundation and skeleton before you can start to build the walls, and then you need to put in all the wiring before you can do the finishing paint job on those walls. If you skip any steps your house will last for a while but will crumble to the ground the first time the wind blows.
One of the biggest mistakes many beginning runners make is to expect too much too quickly. Running is about patience and a very gradual increase in stamina and ability. Even if you can do 3 miles one day, you might be damaging your muscles in the long term. If you keep pushing yourself too much eventually one day you will suddenly pull a muscle or get knee or ankle pain, setting you back weeks.
Your body needs a LONG time to build up endurance and muscle strength. Months. Think of marathon runners…the only way they got to be able to run 26.2 miles was by gradually building up their distance. You wouldn’t expect any runner, no matter how serious, to just go out and run 26.2 miles without preparing. It can take months, if not YEARS to get to marathon distance! One of the biggest pieces of advice that marathon coaches give is to stick to the schedule. They will warn you that, contrary to what you might think, if you do more than planned you won’t be moving forward in ability quicker, rather you will just tire your body out more for future runs.
See Hal Higdon’s advice here. He is a running expert and marathon training coach. This is a sample of one of his marathon training guides…you can see that not every run is longer than the last. Of course you aren’t training for a marathon, but the general idea is still the same, just on a smaller scale. Three miles probably feels the same to your body as 26.2 miles feels to an experienced runner.
You won’t see real results from running, like weight loss, for at least a couple months. Beginning runners have a tendency to expect to see results after a couple weeks (which makes sense because it feels like you are working SO hard!), and once they don’t they give up. Running is the ultimate test in faith and determination. You have to keep at it day after day, week after week, month after month, many times without seeing any results…but they DO come! Take it slow and go easy on yourself. If you made 3 miles one day but can’t do it on the next run, it’s okay! Listen to your body, and sometimes be even more strict than your body tells you, and the rest will come with time.
My idea of a perfect run would be about 8-10 miles alone on a moderately hilly trail in the woods in the summer. But we can’t always get what we want. I have learned how to enjoy both tracks and treadmills, and occasionally I’ll even pick them over trail or road running. You can read my post on treadmills here.
There are a few reasons why you might be getting tired quicker on a track. When you are running on a track you are more prone to (sometimes unconsciously) compete with the other runners around you. So you might end up running faster than you normally would on a leisurely jog in the woods (thus making you tired quicker). If this is the case it’s not actually a bad thing! It just means you are doing a more intense workout for a shorter distance, which is important to include in your running routines anyway.
Another reason you might be getting tired quicker is when you are running on the same incline for several miles, you are always targeting the same, very specific muscles, whereas when you incorporate hills or uneven ground into the run you are constantly switching up what muscles you are using. This way, while you are using the muscles that are for hills or lateral movement, your flat ground muscles get a break (and vice versa). This gives your body more of a complete workout and can help you to run longer before experiencing muscle exhaustion.
But with all that said, most likely you are right…you probably are getting tired out of boredom. Technically speaking, track running is actually easier on your body than any other outdoor running. Your incline is always zero, there are no obstacles to dodge, and your footing is always constant and secure. While it’s true that you aren’t giving your flat ground muscles any time to rest, you also aren’t expending unnecessary energy to jump over sticks or dodge squirrels. But the downside to that is that you aren’t giving your brain any distractions from the pain.
To combat this boredom I do several things. When I do laps I start on the inside and move one lap over each lap, and then depending on how long I run I then work my way in again. Not only does this help me keep track of how many laps I have run, but it also adds a little something for my mind to focus on. It breaks up the monotony just a little.
Most of the time when I am running on the track I use it to do intervals, whereas I use my park trails for longer, more leisurely runs. So at every straight-away (or every one on one side of the track, depending on how hardcore I am feeling) I sprint as fast as I can, and then use the rest of the lap as a very slow-paced recovery. You would be surprised…even though you were just sprinting, after a few seconds you won’t feel as exhausted as you think and the running will actually feel easier. They key to keeping this up for more than a mile is to really take the recovery part of the lap very easy. By making 100 of every 400 meters a sprint, you will never be bored. You will spend the entire 300 meters recovering and just enjoying the fact that you are allowed to run slow for a while.
Sometimes I do fartlek on the track instead of intervals. This is where you pick an object at a random distance in front of you and sprint like hell to get to it, and then take it easy until you feel like picking another object to sprint to. I like to use people, because it mimics a race scenario and because the track is really the only place that I ever run around people so I take advantage of it. I’ll start out doing a couple warm up laps and then I will pick the first person in front of me and sprint to catch up to them. If there are a couple people in front of me I’ll pick whichever one is faster (or slower, depending on my mood). Sometimes if the person is just slightly faster than me, I’ll race them for a longer distance, like an entire lap, to switch it up and work on endurance. It’s totally random, like your own personal game, and you can slow down for however long you feel like in between sprints. You’ll never get bored doing this on the track.
Anytime you start to get bored or tired you should concentrate on your form and your breathing. I wrote a post on this topic here. You should use the other runners on the track as a distraction and as your own personal textbook for running. Learn good form from the good ones, and what not to do from the slow ones. To keep your mind occupied study everything about every runner…down to what clothes they are wearing. You can get ideas of what kind of gear would be helpful to you and also see what inhibits people. You can really learn almost everything you need to know about running just by observing other runners. Take advantage!
I hope that I have been able to help. Just remember that not every run has to be a leisurely 8 miles. I have often done 2 or 3 mile interval or fartlek workouts that have felt equally or more satisfying. If you are feeling exhausted at the end of the run you are doing something right and you should keep it up!
I started running almost exactly 2 years ago…it was a few days after New Years in 2010. My life has completely changed since then, entirely for the better, and I credit almost all of it to running. You should go to my archives and read some of my earlier posts, these ones in particular…
…I explain how and why I started to run, and give a lot of motivation and advice to beginners in these posts.
The hardest part of running is literally getting yourself out the door. Once you are outside the task of running won’t seem to be as big a deal. Begin by putting on your running gear, including your sneakers. Then get all your stuff together…water bottle, ipod, wallet, keys, whatever else you bring. Then leave. Seriously. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s the hardest part. You don’t have to start running as soon as you get out of your house…if you know that on the other side of that door is immediate torture (running) then it will be a lot harder to motivate to get out there. Walk to the park or the gym or make stretching a 10 minute routine…find a way to ease into the run in a way that you won’t dread, but make sure that whatever you do it is bringing you gradually closer to the start of your run. If you say to yourself, “I’ll just go to the post office first,” or “I’ll just get some lunch,” you are stopping your momentum and it will be much harder to start your run.
I have written a lot of posts on how to keep up the motivation during your run, so I urge you to look in the archives again to find advice for that.
And for your runs, don’t try for too much too fast. Start out trying to do half a mile non-stop. Once you can do that, up it to a mile. Then a mile and a half. Don’t worry about your speed at all for a while. Take it really slow. The more manageable your runs feel, the easier it will be to motivate to do them! In the beginning all that matters is that you get out there and RUN. Even if you only run for 5 minutes, the fact that you did something is what matters. I’ve used this quote before:
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
Hope this has helped! If you have any other questions I am happy to help out in any way that I can!