Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Keeping up your motivation to run can be hard. For one reason, when you have to think too hard and long about your route before lacing up, you may find that you drain your brain energy, consequently decreasing your desire to hit the road. Secondly, it can take a lot of energy and clarity of mind at 5:00 a.m. to remember why you rolled out of bed in the first place. If you are like me, the physical and health benefits of running elude me at the crack of dawn. Third, if no one knows your goals or is out there on the road helping you move forward in them, it is easy to dismiss them and forego a run here and there--sometimes landing you in the bad habit of skipping runs more often than not or hanging up your shoes all together.
Whether you've been running for 5 months or 15 years, I am guessing you have experienced times when demotivation beat out motivation. Maybe it was because of one of the above reasons, or perhaps something else more inhibiting than mind games trip you up. Regardless of why you skip a run or derail off of a training plan, I think it is important to remember we have all been there. Yet, to also quickly remind ourselves to not let that be a reason to stay there.
Today I want to share with your 3 simple means by which I have been able to jump some of the hurdles of demotivation, and get my buns out the door on a more consistent basis than prior to having them. If you are a new runner, these means may be new to you. If you are a veteran running, I am guessing you have heard of them or use some of them yourself. Most likely, you have other Jax in your pocket that you use to stay on course. If so, I would love it if you could share them below.
Mapping My Run
First, I am a runner because I love how simple the sport is. I need shoes and basic items of clothing to protect me from the elements. To put it plainly, I need simple or I won’t play. That is just how I am: A one trick pony who is completely happy with knowing only one trick. As a result, to stay motivated and continue to enjoy running, I need to spend as little amount of energy as possible calculating mileage, creating new course maps and the other number related details that somehow intrude their way into this sport. I mean really, Math has never been my thing. So, if I am having to calculate miles while out on my run, I am zapping energy from my brain that I intended to be used by my cardiovascular system.
Which is why, Map My Run, is one of my most utilized and never thanked or posted about running tools. Especially, when mileage gets into the double-digits or when my routine course are starting to become less than motivating, Map My Run helps me wrap my head around options (before I leave the driveway) and use some creativity to generate some new paths.
Map My Run allows me to chart out a course from any location, documenting each mile as I click. I can then save my map, send it to my phone, and/or share it with others. This amazing tool sets my mind at ease because I know where I am going and the distance of my venture before I leave--eliminating my brain from navigating and calculating on the fly.
In addition, since my routes are saved there, when I know I need to run a 12-miler, I can just go into my archives and see what I have done before. True confession: Even though I can remember most of the routes I run over the year, I can NEVER remember the distances of each! Essentially, Map My Run is my memory bank and brain for all things route related. Allowing me to preserve my energy for my run rather than using it on recall, numbers and calculations.
So, go check it out and use it to eliminate “I don’t know where to run or how long the distance is from here to there” from your list of motivational traps.
Raising Money on the Run
The second means by which I find a little extra motivation to get out the door for a run even when I don’t feel like is the app, Charity Miles. A good friend of mine shared information with me on Charity Miles several months ago, but it took me until just recently to finally look it up and add it to my routine. Here is the beautiful simplicity of this app: You turn it on before you leave for a run, walk, bike ride or anything that puts you in forward motion on your legs, and it tracks your mileage. Then your mileage is sent to a “sponsor” company to be calculated. Next the “sponsor” company then makes a donation/mile to an organization of your choosing (your choices are limited to what is available on the app), based on the miles you ran.
I mean, really, it can’t be any easy to raise money for a good cause. You simply need to remember to turn the app on when you leave the house.
One more motivational factor: Just the other day I noticed a tab I could click on to see who was leading our team in miles (I am on team Sole Hope. You should join our team!). Well, wouldn’t you know seeing that list gave me a little extra motivation to make sure I am getting my miles in and keeping up with my teammates. Again, a simple and fun way to add some motivation to your runs.
Running with Others
Thirdly, and most likely the most effective motivation for remaining consistent in putting my miles in from week to week, is running with others. Nearly six years ago, when I moved to the city I now live in, I happened to have an OBGYN (I was 8 month pregnant at the time) who was a runner and a member of our local running group, Run Alexandria (formerly known as ROUS--Runners Of Unusual Spread). And I kid you not, 24 hours postpartum, while she was making her rounds to check on her patients (me being one of them) she pulled out her phone and shared my number with a few other runners. She also made sure I was connected to the runner group's Facebook page and on their email list. (God is so good to find us right where we are and give us what we need!)
As soon as I could actually function as a mostly normal human again (sleep-deprived but able to plod one foot in front of the other), I started showing up at the weekly runs. I didn’t know anyone then, but knowing there were people there and a route determined for us, was what I needed to get back to running post-baby number three. Some weeks the only run I made it to was the one I had scheduled with a couple members of the group. And that was enough to keep me going forward toward regaining strength and endurance. Not to mention my sanity.
Now, all these years later, I find it very, very hard to imagine my life without the friendships I have gained, the miles I have run, or the finish lines I have crossed because of being connected with local runners via a running group. I am certain that without these runners in my life, I would not be the runner, nor the person I am today. Additionally, I know for a fact there is no way I would be getting up regularly at 5:00am if it wasn’t to meet a friend for a run and a coffee. Not just because I need the run and the caffeine, but because I enjoy and need the friendship and camaraderie that is built as we stride forward together, mile by mile, on the streets of our city.
If you are a new runner or a runner who has taken a hiatus as a result of life being crazy or simply a decrease in motivation, I would challenge you to try out one or all of the above means to increasing your motivation. I believe they each have the potential to get you back on course and keep you there. The first two require a simple download and building in a habit to remember to use them.
Finding a running group or a friend or two to run with on a consistent basis can be more complicated. Most likely, however, where there is a will there's a way. Try searching Google or Facebook for a running group or training program in your area. If you find contact information or a group run location, be brave and make contact or show up.
And then don’t expect camaraderie and friendship to happen on the first date. I think it took me nearly a year to get to know people and make training plans based on common pace and race distances. I just needed to keep showing up.
Hallelujah! I am so glad I didn’t give up even when I wasn’t even sure anyone knew my name or would miss me if I didn’t come. Good things take time, and building a friendship or running buddie-ship is no different. But the persistence and the effort are worth it.
As one who believes that the Creator sees and wants to meet every need you and I have in our lives, I would also challenge you to pray and ask that God bring you the friendship and camaraderie you need for the season of life and running you find yourself in. Though running may seem a hobby or a simple outlet for stress and relief, if it is something that is important to your physical, emotional or spiritual health, it is important to the one who made you. He sees you where you are and he hears your prayers, so be brave and bold and ask him to provide for you a running group or a training partner who can get you out of bed at 5:00 a.m., convince you to run a marathon or simply just be there waiting so you show up for a run you might not show up for otherwise.
In the meantime, while he is answering that prayer, let him be your friend and training partner. He sees when you show up. He cheers you on when no one else is looking. He sings over you as you use your mind and body to run through the life and races marked out for you.
How about you? What keeps you motivated and on course week after week and year after year?
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: