It is very tempting, as a runner, to want to be the best. This can be a good thing: determination and dedication are the best ingredients for success. I’m sure every runner wants to see progress – and they should! As in any activity, watching yourself become more able over-time is incredibly fulfilling and satisfying. But there is a reason why there are only a small portion of Olympic athletes. There will come a time where you feel as though you aren’t progressing as much as you’d like to. You are still doing the same mileage and intensity yet you’re improvement has slowed – perhaps your pace has slowed also. So, you start training harder, further, more frequently. Yes, it helps a little but you can’t help feeling as though you are putting in all that work for nothing. You are constantly being bombarded with times, people around you are improving but you feel as though you aren’t. You try everything but nothing seems to work. You see those elite athletes winning races, breaking records, defying expectations and you say to yourself: why can’t I be like that? You begin to believe that you’ll never get better and that you might as well just give up. You lose your motivation, running becomes a chore. You are focusing so much on times, positions, progress that you forget all about just enjoying the run.
Since running is such an improvement based sport, I know it can be hard to dismiss your “bad” runs but really, you just have to think back to why you started. Chances are, you didn’t start to become high-level, you just wanted to give it a go. Becoming obsessed with your stats is not going to help you in the long run – in fact, it will probably effect you negatively. The best runners are those who relax as they run and there is no way you can relax if you are constantly fixated on running a specific time or position.
I have definitely struggled a lot with this as the perfectionist I am. It can be so hard and horrible to deal with. Here are a few things I have found that really help you to restore your love of loving and get you enjoying it again:
- Ditch the clock: Take off your watch and stop Strava. Complete some runs without being timed at all. Just get out there and enjoy the motion!
- Build a wall against negative thoughts: If your mind is telling you that you aren’t good or that you can’t do something, practice blocking out the thoughts and cheer yourself on.
- Change the scene: Try a new route or race. This way you will not need to worry about comparing yourself to anyone or to any previous performances and you can just focus on the run. A new set of scenery may also distract you and make the race more enjoyable.
- Set specific dates to go for gold: Setting a date to try and get a good time allows you not to stress on the weeks when you aren’t planning on running hard and to give your everything when you are. This method is particularly useful as trying for a good time every week can make you lose motivation and lose faith in your abilities as it is impossible to do so. Picking specific moments will allow you to truly prepare and get excited about running hard. However, if you don’t succeed your goal…
- Focus on the positives in every run: There really is no such thing as a “bad run”. Every time you find that you are disappointed with your performance, focus on what went well in the run. Did you have good technique? Did you achieve negative splits? Did you meet someone new or see a pretty sight? And if you can’t think of anything, just remember that you ran! So many people do not run yet you do and surely that is enough to be proud of?
- Take a break: If it all gets too much, perhaps it is time to take a break from running – or at least racing. Run less frequently, less intensely or just stop running all together (for a brief period). This will allow your body and mind to relax and will leave you feeling fresh. It may also allow you some time to reflect and change your mindset.
So there we are, those are my top tips for restoring your love of running. Believe me, I know from experience that your hard-work will eventually pay-off but you must be patient. It is most likely to happen when you least expect it. In the meantime, remember to just have fun and be happy because really, that’s what’s most important in life 🙂
Also, I am thinking of writing more posts related to mentality and overcoming psychological issues in running and general life. Let me know if this post has helped you out at all, it would really mean a lot to me ❤
Oh and this article was also published on Athletes World Blog. Make sure to check them out, I recommend reading it 🙂