It’s that time of year when race season starts slowing down, and unless you have a late-fall or winter race to work for, it sometimes can feel like you’re scraping a clean plate for any remnants of motivation.
For me, my main focus of this season was the Chicago Half Marathon; I trained pretty hard all summer long, but since Sept. 26 (the day after the race) my incentive has been pretty low. Next weekend, I’m doing the Hot Chocolate 15K, and while part of me feels like “I ran a half marathon, I can do nine miles,” I know that I’m not superwomen who is constantly in shape, and I have to keep up with my mileage in order to be.
For those who ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon two weekends ago, I bet some can relate: you’ve finally accomplished a long-term goal, so what’s the point in continuing? Especially with the colder temperatures, it’s so much easier to convince myself to do a workout inside, or not at all. But, fall has just begun, and many weather websites are calling for a brutal Chicago winter; because I cannot allow myself to be lazy until spring, I’ve been brainstorming ways to jumpstart run-tivation, and this is what I’ve come up with:
1. Create a new training plan – If you’re a type A person, which I often can be, writing notes and plans is second nature. These organizational tactics don’t have to be strictly work related, though. In fact, for my half marathon, I printed out a training schedule from Pinterest, and looked at it every day. The same can be done even if you’re not training for a specific race or distance; creating a weekly schedule and having it somewhere you will see it constantly will make you much more accountable than if you just decide on your workout 15 minutes before.
2. Spruce up your workouts – After I had been running for so long, racking up the miles before my half marathon, I sort of hit a running wall; while it was nice to be able to just go for three miles and not feel guilty, I found myself not wanting to run at all anymore, as if I’d overdone it. So, I started looking up workout videos on YouTube, and not only are they free, but they are really good workouts. If you can’t find motivation in your living room, go to a gym and see what types of classes they offer, because studio fitness is super trendy right now. Just be sure to not completely leave running in the dust, or you may get kicked in the butt this spring.
3. Buy a new workout wardrobe – I often live by the mantra “treat yourself,” in any situation. And while I definitely abuse it by buying new clothes nearly every week, materialistic motivation is still motivation! I recently got two pairs of Lululemon tights, and although they don’t have voices, they’ve gotten me out the door quite a few times. So splurge on that fancy windbreaker jacket, or the cool new Bluetooth headphones, because feeling good while you run is almost as important as the run itself.
4. Find a partner – if I didn’t have two of my friends doing the Hot Chocolate 15K with me next weekend, I probably would have stopped running all together. But having others to bounce training plans off of is extremely helpful, because it keeps us all accountable. Plus, if your racing buddies live locally, you can meet up to run with them during the week too; it’s way easier to back out of a run and not tell anyone than it is to have to tell your partner that you’re being lazy.
5. Sign up for a race – Just because your race schedule is coming to a close, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. With Thanksgiving coming up, there’s so many races to sign up for, and being near Chicago, I don’t think a weekend ever goes by without some sort of race going on (check out the Chicago Athlete race calendar). Personally, knowing I’ve registered for a race, no matter the distance, makes me feel like I have to run beforehand, regardless how lazy I feel that day. And while often I find it the hardest to get out there when I know I have to, I usually do it anyways.
6. Take some time off – I feel like athletes, and runners especially, get embarrassed to admit they are taking time off. However, it’s actually smarter to take time off, especially after a long-distance race; you’ve been pushing your body for so long, and even though your training plan includes rest days, you may need to just detox, and spend a couple days or weeks doing milder workouts. But, don’t let those weeks turn into months, because that’s when it’s hardest to get back into it.
It’s hard to be 100 percent determined 365 days out of the year, and I’ve learned that just because I don’t feel like running sometimes, doesn’t mean I don’t like it anymore. We are all human, and creatures of habit, but sometimes even that positive habit gets old, and giving up is tempting.
Luckily, there are TONS of advice pieces about staying in shape in the winter, (read one we wrote for triathletes, here), and our entire November/December issue is filled with alternatives to working out outdoors. However, no matter what time of year it is, getting caught in a rut is OKAY, just make sure you are attempting to get out of it.
If you know any fool-proof tricks for post-race training, I’m all ears.