Running Motivation

While running, I often think of inspiring topics and sometimes, I come up with killer prose. The problem is, I often forget those thoughts by the time the run is over, my body has cooled, and the real world is taking charge again.

One thing I’ve been meaning to write about is my running motivation. I read this article on the NYTimes site, and it reminded me. Running with a group can be tricky. I tend to be a slow runner. Let me tell you, nothing is more demoralizing than being the slowest runner in a group. It’s one thing to be towards the back, but being left in the dust hurts. A friend and I decided to join a weekly run night sponsored by Breakaway Running. What wasn’t to like? You run a nice loop through Midtown Memphis post-rush hour and drink awesome local beer afterwards. We quickly learned that a nice loop was 7 miles (way beyond my running capabilities at that time) at a pace that I couldn’t maintain for one mile, much less 7 (7-8mi/mile). They mean run-ning! We just made our own loop – probably 4 miles – in roughly the same time they were arriving back at the store for the refreshment. That was about 2 years ago, I guess.

So this time last year, when another group of friends tried to convince me that we should put together our own little running group to train for the St. Jude Half Marathon, I was skeptical. These were my oldest friends, though. They’re the ones that I have a hard time avoiding even on my worst day. They’re the ones who I know I can count on no matter what kind of foul mood or bad attitude I have going on. They knew me when I was 13 years old screaming out Grease songs, and they knew me when I was a bit of a smug and judgy teenage, and they’ve stuck with me despite it all. With that kind of history, you know that the skepticism is just a natural part of agreement. So we became BEALe Runners. It’s a pretty exclusive group. You have to be one of 4 girls to be in it. Sorry if you’re not. You should definitely get a group like this, though. We’ve encouraged each other in training for a year now. And even though none of us ran the St. Jude 1/2 last year (sold out before we got it together and registered), and even though one got pregnant, and even though between the 4 of us we live in 3 different states, it’s been worth it. My little virtual team has been a big motivator. The accountability and the competition has helped me to push myself and to keep going when I was ready to quit.

A graphic designer/illustrator friend of mine designed this lovely graphic for me when we started the group. For all of our summer birthdays, I had little tank tops made with it printed. It’s time for another, I think. But hopefully something a little better – maybe a gray t-shirt tank? Maybe replace the purple with orange or blue or green?

Another, simpler but sometimes equally effective motivator – especially on the longer or harder runs – is music. I have a pretty good mix, but the ones lately that really help me move are some sillies that I added:

This one I found through the Whip It soundtrack. If you haven’t seen that movie, you should. It’s not running related, but the song is funky, peppy, and funny.

5 years ago, after a really fun day at the lake when we were all worn out and sun-toasted, this song came on my now-husband’s playlist. We all just started car dancing. Or maybe it was just me and Jason. It always makes me smile no matter how far into the run I’ve gotten.

My son dances to this song. I love his interpretation of “Every day I’m shuf-fel-ling.”

Last – setting goals keeps me motivated. Whether it’s a specific distance, time, both, or so many runs per week, having a goal gives me something to use as a focus point when the running gets tough. When the sweat is in my eyes and my legs are burning, that target helps me churn the grit and the funk into energy to keep moving. If I don’t have a goal, I simply don’t run.


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