This morning I met up with Asia for our weekly Thursday hill repeats. We’re training for the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon together and following a training plan from Suja Juice which calls for 30 minutes of 45 second hill repeats on Thursdays (plus warm-up and cool-down). After factoring in recovery time as we run down the hill (and the fact that our hill is about 50 seconds, not 45), this means we’re running up and down the same hill 15 times.
This morning was tough. I woke up really, really tired. Knowing that Asia was depending on me and I had no real excuse for canceling on her got me out of bed. When Asia arrived at my house we were both groaning about being tired. During our warm-up the thought crossed my mind that I should suggest that we skip the hills and just do an easy run. But I ignored it. About 10 minutes into the hill workout, I was getting tired and I looked at my watch and miscalculated and thought we only had 10 minutes left. When I realized my error, I considered suggesting we cut it off at 20 minutes instead of 30. But, I didn’t. I finished the workout and although it wasn’t the best speed work session of my life, it got done and I’m fitter and faster for it (or at least will be after I recover and hopefully get some more sleep!).
I know all athletes suffer from lack of motivation at times. Tough workouts are especially hard to get motivated for. It’s a lot easier mentally to get ready for an easy jog than it is to think about doing laps around the track with your lungs burning, running up a hill with your legs burning or running 20 miles when you’d much rather go get coffee with friends or sleep in on a Saturday. But we all know that those hard workouts are necessary to get faster and stronger.
Here are some things that have helped me get through particularly hard workouts.
- Make plans with a buddy. Not only does having a workout partner make you more accountable to start the workout, I guarantee you’re going to run harder and faster knowing that your workout buddy is watching and/or pacing along side you.
- Visualize your goal race finish line. This is especially helpful for finishing a long run strong and for speed work. Imagine yourself beating your goal time. Imagine whoever is coming to cheer for you smiling and waving as you cross the finish line. Heck, imagine what you’re going to post on social media afterward. I used visualization a lot when training to attempt to BQ at CIM, especially at the end of a long run when I wanted to finish strong.
- Break down the remaining time into manageable chunks. When I looked at my watch this morning and realized I actually had 20 more minutes left, I simply set the goal of getting through the next 10 minutes. Once I got through that, I told myself I could easily do another 10. It’s kind of like weight loss goals – although you might want to lose 50 pounds, focusing on 5 pounds at a time is a more realistic plan.
- Tell yourself the last rep or two is bonus. Similar to the last example, when I’m struggling mid-workout, giving myself an out sometimes helps keep me motivated. I guarantee that once you get to the last rep – whether it be a lap around the track, a hill repeat or the final portion of your tempo run, you’ll keep going.
- Keep yourself accountable via social media. Use platforms like Strava or Daily mile to post your workouts and paces for others to see (or brag on Instagram!). Knowing that other people are going to look at your performance can definitely give you a boost. Of course, if you have a coach, that’s built in motivation to check off a green box in Training Peaks or report a good run back to your coach.
- Get Distracted. Recently I’ve been listening to podcasts during solo long runs. Focusing on the podcasts really takes my mind off of how many miles I’ve run or how far I have to go. I also save certain podcasts (like my “Ask Lauren Fleshman” Running on Om podcasts) just for long runs so that I really look forward to running them and listening. During speed work, it’s hard for me to even focus on music let alone a podcast. Instead, I focus on something around me – whether it be another group of runners at the track (can I catch them or at the very least, not let them catch me?) or I’ll use my Garmin to distract me by trying to do math to calculate some random metric.
- Reward Yourself. Its rare to finish a hard workout and regret it. If you remind yourself of how amazing you’re going to afterward, it’ll be easier to get out the door or continue the workout. Sometimes I’ll even bribe myself with food- if I don’t do my run, I don’t get to dip into the chocolate jar at work that day (I’m not sure I actually hold myself to it, but I guess it makes me feel better about eating candy for no reason if I know I got a good workout in that morning!).
These are ways I keep myself motivated. What motivates you? I’d love to hear!