The joy of running
There can come a time when your daily run becomes a little monotonous, which can lead to a halt in improvement and a general lack of motivation. The following article recently appeared in the Performance Basics section of Athletics Weekly with some nuggets to keep us runners happy…
The joy of running
Is running a chore sometimes? AW Basics looks at ways of keeping the enjoyment in your sport
The first and foremost reason why anyone begins running is simply because they enjoy it. Some might be blessed with natural ability and be fairly good to start with and that will spur them on to be even better. Others may be less gifted, but are driven by their passion for running and the elation of attaining a goal that they have set themselves. How many times have you heard that a gifted athlete, who enjoys success, hates training? It is an absurd statement and if we believed it were true, how is it possible to do anything well, if you dislike it?
Obviously there will be athletes who don’t like running lots of miles over a week and there will be equal amounts that dislike anything that involves running flat-out. So the secret is quite simple. Do something that you enjoy and then start to find ways of excelling at it! If you get great pleasure at running 10km on the roads, go for it, but don’t forget that to get the real benefits you will have to run occasional race distances that are shorter and some that are longer. By doing so, you will improve your speed and endurance for your specialist racing distance.
Enjoyment begins at training and there are many factors that can enhance and sustain this and some are listed here:
Positive factors to help with enjoyment:
- Train with athletes you feel relaxed in the company of.
- Do sessions with athletes of equal and better ability.
- Look at every day as a bonus, no matter what the outcome.
- Recognise that poor sessions will still have benefits.
- Have a positive and happy attitude at all times.
- Include plenty of variety in your sessions.
- Try to go on a different route at least once a week.
- Find the time to go to a completely different area to try something different, ie, sand running, forest running, trail running, etc.
- Be flexible in what you do.
- Plan around what you have done during the working day.
- Have a go at running sessions differently, ie, run from the front, middle and back of the pack.
Other factors to be aware of:
- Be ready for days when you feel demotivated.
- There is always someone worse off than you so stop complaining!
- Avoid excuses.
- Rest and relaxation are not sins.
- At races, be relaxed and focus only on what you want to do and no one else.
- Scutinise all performances, then forget them and move on to the next one.
- Try to be sociable – it really helps with relaxation and it gains you respect.
- Always expect the unexpected, then you won’t feel unhappy when such things happen.
If an athlete runs seven times per week, for example, it is conceivable that out of those, perhaps four runs may feel average, two may be good and one may be poor. This is not unusual and indeed it would be remarkable if every run was good or brilliant. The important thing is that the athlete runs well in a race. Good training performances encourage confidence, but no gold medals are given on the training track.
It has to be understood that poor performances in training, hopefully infrequently, will diminish confidence only if the athlete allows them to do so. There are usually legitimate reasons for poor performances, but the athlete has to realise that productive work will still have to be done, just not quite in the way that was originally intended.
Athletes are a unique breed of people and for success to happen they have to be focused and disciplined to gain the full benefits. However, sometimes they can be too intense and think of nothing but athletics 24/7. This may sound good, but they need to unwind and relax and make the most of non-training times.