I’m frequently asked about how I stay motivated to run. I have to admit, at the beginning it’s tough. I was slow, heavier (therefore slower), and much more prone to being out of breath.

In one sense, I was fortunate, because my neat travel experiences really pushed me to run. But once I got back to the city, it became a struggle again.

The things I did to keep motivated were pretty simple. I’d vary the route (going through parks wherever possible), which was a big help against boredom. And I’d make a deal with myself that once I got out the door, I could go for as long or as short a time as I wanted. And of course, I’ve never cut it below 25 minutes; getting the shoes on and out the door is usually the biggest battle.

Running with others can help too. I’m thinking of joining a running club, and in Canada, the Running Room has organized runs of various distances on Wednesdays and Sundays. I’ve found the group runs to be invaluable in my marathon training.

But, at the end of the day, even the most goal-oriented and successful runners can lack motivation. I did a tempo (read: slightly fast but not crazy) run with a 3:10 marathoner the other day and apologized for holding him up. His answer was that on that day, he needed a pace partner to keep motivated (and given that we both did a hard race on Sunday, we didn’t want to push ourselves anyway).

My advice: try to strike the right balance between forgiving yourself for not being perfect and going all the time, and actually trying to get out there most of the time. And cross-training helps too (the subject of another post).

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