10 Things All Highly Motivated Runners Do

Turning the odd run into a serious habit needn’t be tricky – 17-times marathon finisher Kieran Alger reveals how

1. Get your kit ready the night before

It’s a simple equation: being prepared to run makes you more likely to do so. You take away the potential run-preventing faff that can other have you heading back to the sofa and another Netflix boxset.

Lay your kit out the night before and you’re always one step closer to getting out of the front door.

2. Look for opportunities to run

There’s a motivational photo of Barack Obama running that does the rounds on social media. It says something like “If he has time, so do you.”

It’s all about spotting gaps in your schedule

Highly motivated runners carve out time to run rather than find excuses not to. Get up an hour early, replace your morning or evening commute with a run, or run at lunchtime. It’s all about spotting gaps in your schedule and making them work for you. Even better, look for potential slots that can easily become habitual.

3. Run early

One of the best times to carve out an hour for a run is in the morning. Granted, it means dragging yourself out of a warm bed but becoming a pre-work runner is a sure sign that you’re reaching highly motivated status.

For most people the morning is a ‘dead time’. You might be sacrificing a bit of sleep (although you can just go to bed earlier to make up for that) but you’re not getting in the way of family time, work, or any of the other excuses for not running. See point one for a top tip on making it easier to run early…

4. Sign up for ALL the races

Motivated runners know that a runner without a goal is a potential non-runner. Whether it’s a 5km, 10km or an ultra, it doesn’t matter – having a date in the diary to strive towards is right up there as a motivator.

Once it’s ‘official’ there’s more chance you’ll stick to your guns

Tell everyone you know what you’re planning to do. Once it’s out there in the wild, ‘official’ for all to see, there’s more chance you’ll stick to your guns and get out from under the duvet on a dark October morning.

5. Find running friends

Having the right support is an essential weapon in the highly motivated runner’s arsenal. By surrounding yourself with other highly motivated runners you’re going to get some of the ‘halo effect’ of their good behaviour. They’ll drag you out for runs, inspire you with their own running feats and offer brilliant encouragement when you get out there and get the job done.

And remember: they’ll be fighting the same demons as you, but being in a virtual team makes you all more likely to stay motivated.

6. Track your runs

Whether you download a free app or invest in a fancy running watch, keeping tabs on your running stats is a sure-fire way to keep you on track towards achieving your running goal.

The feedback you get is a great boost

It’s not just about scrutinising the pace and distance of each run, the real benefit is that you start to ‘own’ your runs in a way you didn’t before: you can see run streaks, monthly mileage and hopefully fitness improvements when you compare your times over a regular route. The feedback you get from all of this monitoring is a great boost.

7. Run when you least feel like running

Thousands of years of human evolution have programmed your brain to tell you to conserve energy for a moment when you’re actually in danger – being chased by a lion, for example. And that’s why the sofa often seems so much more appealing than the local park.

But it’s a weird quirk of running: often when you feel least like doing it, you’ll have your best runs. Highly motivated runners know this and fight through the Can’t Be Arsed to get their dose of the runner’s high.

8. Know when to rest

At the risk of contradicting ourselves, regular runners also know when it’s actually time to take a break. Learning to spot the signs your body needs a rest is a vital part of avoiding injury – an important part of running.

While the signs you need to rest are more likely to come from grumbling muscles, a general feeling of being run down is also one to look out for.

9. Make pacts with yourself

Your brain runs the show. You run your brain. (Hopefully.) But sometimes you’ve got to make a bargain with the brain to get it onside.

If you’re suffering from Can’t Be Arsed syndrome, stick on your kit and tell yourself you’ll just go for one quick mile. It’s only 15 minutes, feels instantly more manageable and nine times out of ten, once you’re out there you’ll end up running longer. If you still don’t feel right, heed point eight and take a break.

10. Find time to run for fun

It’s not all about competitions and races. To fall in love with running you’ve also got to find time to run free, without looking at a watch or worrying about minutes per mile.

It’s not all about competitions and races

It helps to do occasional runs where you don’t know where you’re going: take a different turning, run a different road, find a different location. Don’t even have a distance goal in mind. Run pressure-free and tell yourself you’ll stop whenever you feel like it. We bet that won’t happen as soon as you think.

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