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Motivation.

The dictionary defines “Motivation” as ‘…providing a reason to act in a certain way… an inducement or incentive.’

One of the hardest things for both new and experienced runners to accomplish is to remain motivated to run. As a running coach, I feel it is my responsibility to keep my runners focused on the “running prize”—that is the achievement of their running and exercise goals by remaining as motivated as possible.

How can a runner stay motivated? Here are a few ideas:

First, stay focused on the reasons why you started running in the first place. It’s been my experience that, when asked “why,” the majority of these runners will respond “… to feel better and lose weight.” These are excellent reasons to start running and to increase your level and frequency of exercise.

If you have been true to your training and nutritional plans, and you’ve experienced an increase in fitness and weight loss, congrats to you!

If not, don’t lose heart. Ask your coach or fellow running friends to look at your training plan and make suggestions. Perhaps an increase in miles and/or a change in your eating habits might be in order. Remember: weight gain or loss is a simple equation. If the calories taken in (what are you eating) are less than those used (what are you expending through exercise), then weight loss is inevitable.

Sometimes motivation can be found by a simple change of scenery. If you run the same route and the same miles doing the same type of workout day after day, you won’t be motivated. I can tell you that I wouldn’t be motivated!

Change is a tried and tested suggestion for runners. Change your routine, the environment, the distance or speed. Also, consider running alone at times. At other times, you may wish to run with friends, or as part of a group.

Such variety in training fuels motivation, creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement, and rejuvenates your “running soul.”

The dynamics of a running group cannot be overlooked. The expectations of your fellow runners as they relate to both your attendance and performance in-group runs can be a very powerful incentive and motivator.

Be reasonable with your running expectations. Occasionally, I will see a runner mentally beating him or herself up when they fail to achieve a specific running time or goal. When I see such runners, I gently pull them aside; remind them of why they started to run in the first place, and to never take themselves too seriously. I then review their goals. Were they too aggressive based upon their current training levels? Did running conditions, such as weather and environmental factors, have a substantial positive or negative effect on running performance?

When faced with such conditions, I remind my runners that occasionally the running “gods” are with them, and other times they are not. But, one of the great reasons to run is simply this: tomorrow is another day to run!

Keeping records of your runs is another way to keep motivated. Records can be as simple as keeping a running logbook—a spiral notebook listing dates, mileage, workout type and your feelings or notes following each workout.

Other ways to keep records can be more sophisticated. I use a Garmin satellite training watch. This device displays my miles, the exact route, calories I’ve burned, and the time spent exercising. Each day’s workout is downloaded to my computer where I have the ability to make notes, review my progress, and look proudly at the amount of miles I’ve traversed and the number of calories I’ve burned.

In 2012, I have a goal of running at least 2,012 miles. I have never run over 1,900 miles before in a single year. With pride I can say that, through May, I am well on track to both achieve and surpass my goal.

Occasionally, interest in running may wane. This is perfectly normal. And, other life activities may simply deflect your running focus. This, too, is expected.

Note to all readers: Running should never dominate your life. Rather, running should compliment and help you to complete your life.

I’ve told many a runner that the hardest part of running is simply the decision to run—to lace up your shoes, step outside or onto a treadmill, and move forward.

By staying motivated, both you and your body will look forward to your runs and the feelings of payoff that your runs and exercise provide you. Run long… and motivated!

You may contact Ken Lettre directly via email: TXMIDPACK@gmail.com.