101 Kicks in the Butt
You have 100 reasons for losing motivation to run. But we can top ’em with tips, inspiring quotes, and more. Pick your fix. Repeat as necessary.
1. CREATE A BLOG where you post your daily mileage, then give out the address to your friends and family.
2. GET A NEW PAIR OF SHOES There’s nothing like those first few runs in a new pair of your favorite training shoes. Buy a pair now, then keep them in the box until you really need help getting out the door.
3. RUNNING COMMENTARY “Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp, or are you going to be strong today?'” –Peter Maher, two-time Olympic marathoner from Canada
4. GO SOFT It’s hard to stay motivated with shin splints, so get off the pavement for a few days and run on a dirt road, mountain trail, or unpaved bike path.
5. LOOK TO THE PAST Emil Zatopek, who won four Olympic golds in his career, was a tough-as-nails athlete known for his intense training methods, such as running in Army boots. Competing with a gland infection and against his doctor’s orders, the Czech won three distance events–including the marathon–at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. That stuffy nose doesn’t seem quite so bad now, does it?
6. FORGET TIME Shane Bogan, who coaches distance runners in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, advises leaving your watch at home once in a while. “It’s liberating not to be worried about pace,” Bogan says.
7. SIGN UP NOW for a winter marathon in a warm state. Every training mile you log takes you closer to that winter getaway in toasty Phoenix, Florida, or Las Vegas.
8. THINK FAST The runners Christy Coughlin coaches in Wilmette, Illinois, always get a boost from this simple negative-splits workout: Run for 20 minutes as slowly as you want, then turn around and run home faster. “The long warmup helps you feel great and run faster on the way back,” says Coughlin.
9. GOOD-TO-GO PLAYLIST
“Don’t Stop Me Now,” Queen
“Break on Through,” The Doors
“Gimme Shelter,” Rolling Stones
“Come Together” the Beatles
“What Do You Do for Money Honey,” AC/DC
For more playlists, see our collection of runner-tested sets.
10. BLAZE A NEW PATH “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was no doubt referring to some runners’ habit of doing the same few loops over and over again. There’s a whole world out there. Explore it.
11. MAKE YOUR FAVORITE ICED DRINK, then head out for a three-miler. The sooner you get back, the cooler your drink is.
12. EVERY MILE YOU RUN burns roughly 100 calories. Think of that next six-miler as two slices of pizza.
13. RUNNING COMMENTARY “No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” –Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-four-minute mile
14. THE BOSTON MARATHON is more enticing than ever. Think you can get there? Go here for qualifying times and other registration info.
15. RACE ODD DISTANCES FOR AN INSTANT PR Many local running clubs offer needed breaks from races of the same old distances. Tackle a 2-miler, a 7-miler, or one of the classic New England races (11.6 miles, anyone?) for a sure shot at a personal best.
16. READ THIS The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, a short story by Alan Sillitoe, tells the tale of a rebellious youth in a reformatory who runs in solitude and makes a stand against a system he doesn’t believe in. You’ll have new appreciation for the power of solo runs.
17. PLAY IN THE STREET Skip a dreaded track workout for a fartlek (Swedish for “speed play”) session. After 10 minutes of easy jogging, run hard between two telephone poles, then slow down until you pass three. Then see if you can get to the traffic light before it changes, followed by a jog to the next mailbox. There are no set rules, so make it up as you go along.
18. THE PILE OF DISHES in the sink can wait till the sun goes down. Your tempo run can’t.
19. RUN AT LUNCH Daniel Sheil, a marathon coach in Portland, Oregon, recommends lunchtime runs for two reasons: (1) You get your workout in before the day gets away from you; (2) You get a midday break from work stress.
20. RUNNING COMMENTARY “The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.” –George Sheehan, M.D., beloved former RW columnist and author of Running & Bein