What motivates you? No seriously, what does it take for you to lace them up and get out the door every day?
No matter how much we love running, or how determined we are to achieve our fitness goals, from time to time we will find our motivation to get out and go running to be…well…somewhat lacking. It is just a fact that we need to accept so that we may overcome it. A Casual Running adventure is a long journey, and it will be filled with many peaks and valleys (and a few injuries and setbacks). We Casual Runners will have good days, and bad days, and going half mad days, but we need to keep it all in perspective.
I have made no secret about the fact that the bitter cold and snow we Midwesterners experienced over the past two winters have left me longing for training in warmer climates. I have struggled to run in these conditions, adapting my training program as best I could to remain safe on snow- and ice- covered roads and when the mercury dropped to sub-zero digits. When I look back on my training logs, the mileage I ran during these past few months certainly reflects these adverse conditions, and my, at times, feeble attempts to overcome them.
So, despite having successfully completed the Dopey Challenge in January, I found myself already far behind my training goals for the year. In February I logged less than half of the miles I ran in January because I had to cut my training runs, often by 60%-80%, in order to reduce my exposure to the cold temperatures. And we all know that I do not do dreadmills. So how do I get myself back on track and catch up? Well, that is where my friends stepped in.
My Casual Running adventures have afforded me the opportunity to meet many wonderful Casual Runners, several of whom I am now fortunate enough to count amongst my good friends. Amongst these are my friends Laura and John, who decided to throw down the gauntlet and challenge a group of us to all run 100 mile Marches – as in to log 100 miles during the month of March. This simple, friendly challenge was just what I needed to kick me in the backside and re-dedicate myself to my training program; no matter what the weather forecast may hold.
Not long ago Steve reminded us of the need to have goals and to not succumb to the appeal of hibernating all winter. And he was right. Granted I was helped by the fact that the turn of the calendar to March happened to coincide with a family vacation to Florida, but this challenge helped ensure that I would make plenty of time to log some Casual Running miles along with beach and sightseeing time.
So how did this challenge work out for the group? Well, in a word, GREAT! Remember our feature about the benefits of positive peer pressure? John and Laura set up a small Facebook group so that we could all post pictures of our progress. Throughout the month, the Casual Runners (and a few very serious mega-mileage runners) posted screenshots of their running apps or pictures of the displays on their dreadmills to record their daily accomplishments. A few even supplemented these with (humblebrag!) scenery shots of their running locales and their smiling selfies, proud of a training run well done. The net effect of all of this was a daily reminder that others were getting out and working towards their fitness goals, and that I could do so as well.
The group members were simply amazing. When one Casual Runner would sustain a setback or be plagued by a lack of motivation, others were there to offer encouraging and supportive words, advice for dealing with injuries, or whatever else that person may need. It is amazing how having friends to support you in your endeavors, especially when you are striving to achieve a large goal or are dealing with adversity, can help lessen the burden and ease the path.
You are probably wondering how I did. Well, I am happy to say: challenge accepted, and challenge accomplished! I cleared my 100 mile goal for the month and I feel great about. However, the number of miles logged, while the premise of the challenge, is not really the point. And, in the end, those who did not meet the 100 mile goal, were nonetheless successful as this challenge helped to motivate them to get back out there and onto their way to achieving their larger goals. We all were also reminded of the value of friendship and its role in helping to enhance our Casual Running experiences. The support of our friends can be a wonderful motivating tool, especially when they are there to remind us just how much they support us and want to see us succeed.
So, in the end, it is not the miles run that matter, but rather the experiences and relationships that we gain along the way are what really define our Casual Running adventures.
Now, onward to April, and hopefully some sunnier and warmer days out on the training trails!
If you need some help getting started or keeping yourself going, Casual Runner is here for you. Here are some of the features we have shared in our Getting Started series:
– Our checklist of the top 10 things you need to know to get up and get on your way to becoming a Casual Runner.
– Ask yourself: where is your own personal starting line?
– Recommendations for picking your first race, the Top 10 Things to Know In Selecting a RunDisney Event, and my Top 10 Reasons Why I Run to runDisney.
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