Saturday, January 10, 2015

How to stay motivated when you're not training for anything

I'm not doing a highlights of 2014 post because it's already late - hello, mid-January! hello, all my deadlines! And my highlights are fairly obvious: tackling the adventure, joy and terror of growing a tiny human, learning to drink while riding a bicycle, visiting the husband's Italian relatives and eating our way around parts of Italy, and whale-watching the day before setting an extremely embarrassing new marathon PR

Anyway, I was talking to another runner friend who's expecting, and we agreed that we get a little wistful hearing about all the exciting goals and running adventures that everyone has planned for the year. Running through pregnancy is treating me fine, but it's not the most exciting thing - it just is. And sometimes, whether it's due to pregnancy, getting over an injury, or some other life circumstance, there are phases in the life of a runner when you're healthy but you just aren't training for something. So - how to stay motivated? 

- Know why you're running 
'To keep fit' is not a powerful enough reason. I run with my doctor's blessing because I know that mothers who are in good cardiovascular and musculoskeletal shape tend to have fewer pregnancy discomforts and a lower risk of preterm labour. And I run because I like being outside, because I like the visceral sensation of motion that nothing else replicates, and because I invariably feel better, physically and mentally, after a run than I did before. 

- Do some gym classes 
I work from home and if there's anything that absolutely needs to be done each day I do it in the morning.  So  some days if I don't schedule my run, it just doesn't happen. But if I commit to a class, like the 6.30pm Tuesday spin class or early morning yoga, if I'm going to be there anyway, I might hit up the treadmill for a half-hour  beforehand and then actually stretch afterwards. 

I can't tell you how useful I've found my gym, even though I'm probably about the farthest that anyone can get from gym bunny. When I was focused on running it was a place for things that complemented the running, like strength and yoga classes. When I was training for the triathlon the spin classes kept me accountable before brick workouts, yoga kept me flexible, and then it was also a nice place to stretch and do my glute and TRX exercises. I don't like to go to the gym for the sake of going to the gym, I prefer to go because it fulfills a specific need for me at a specific point in time. If you are in the no-gym camp, if you have space and a DVD player (we have neither), I know folks who swear by workout DVDs.

- Mix it up
Trails. Road. Different routes. The other day I was so bored of doing laps up and down the canal path that I did something I pretty much never do: I drove to a run. I ran through part of the Botanic Gardens, stopped by the track where my team was doing a workout, and did my pseudo-speedwork there with them (1.2km, 800m, and a halfhearted 400, all at the exceedingly zippy pace of 11 minutes a mile). 

- Get social 
And sometimes I meet up with a friend for pancakes. I mean, a short trail run or park run, followed by pancakes. Bonus: I get to hang out with her toddler; we have the same mental age so we get along very well. 

- Bribe yourself 
Monsoon season is just wrapping up around here. Sometimes when it's pouring I go to the gym and get on the treadmill with a podcast, or my tablet and an episode of Gilmore Girls (which I am finally watching. As the world's slowest TV watcher I calculate it will take me approximately 3 years to finish the series.)

- Plotting for the future 
I've mentioned this to a couple of friends, but I think I'll be spending the rest of the year postpartum plus 2016 focusing on the 10K distance. I've had endurance-sport ADHD for too long - triathlons! marathons! half marathons! - and haven't really focused on 10Ks in a while. How long? My PR is from 2012. 10Ks won't take me away from family on half-day training runs, but are still a good challenge and one of my favourite race distances. 

- You don't need to be motivated all the time
Life is too short. Take a snow day or a week off. Enjoy yourself. Bake some cookies, cook a nice meal. Play outside, have coffee with friends, play boardgames, sit on the couch with a book. Then come back refreshed to run again another day. 


  1. I like that you have a post-partum goal. That will give you something to look forward to! I also want to focus on the 10k soon. It's a neglected distance.

    1. I love 10ks. Not sure why I don't do them more; they're a reasonable distance but still present a challenge. And not only is my PR three years old, but I seem to do disproportionately better at shorter distances (have yet to figure this out - heat? undertraining?) and feel like I still have quite a lot of room to improve in the 10k. It's going to be a long road back though.

  2. I totally agree about the 10k goal and it looks like several of us will be 10k-ing it in 2015! I was a cyclist when i was pregnant, didn't really start running until afterwards and i was able to cycle right up until a few days before the birth. It was so good, it felt like I was weightless still. So much pleasure. So if you can cycle somewhere safe and you feel like it, maybe give that a try?

    1. That's amazing! There isn't anywhere safe to ride round here, really, and I don't even own a hybrid or mountain bike - being on a roadie is somewhat unwieldy while pregnant. I like swimming for that weightless feeling, though.

  3. I just started watching Gilmore Girls too. We can have a virtual TV club (like a book club, but a lot less intellectual). :)