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Staying Motivated: Five Steps to Achieving Running Awesomeness

Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 | 6 Comments

[The following post was written by Christian Peterson, which many of you will know better as SayPay45.  Christian is one of the writers I recently recruited to occasionally write for BRU.  Check out his blog  "The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy" to read more.  I'd introduce Christian, but he does a pretty good job himself. :-)  ]


Hello guest post readers!  Do not be frightened by my awesomeness.  What you’re feeling is completely nature.  As your high school prom date once said, “Just go with it.”  Or did they say, “Let’s get a hotel room!”  I never remember.

Anyway…I am your official guest post writer.  Pleased to be read by you.  I’m affectionately known in barefoot running circles as “The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy”.  I am unaffectionately known in non-barefoot running circles as “that dude that won’t shut up about barefoot running and kilts”.  Remind you of anyone we both know?

A little background on me.  In the blog world, I am a local barefoot superhero.  Isn’t it obvious?  I represent all that is good and right in the barefoot running world.  I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence.  Every pose I strike is epic.  See above example.

In real life, I have a family that includes a wife and a 2-year old daughter.  I work as a criminal prosecutor for a small county in Minnesota; a job that frequently makes me work more than the normal 9 to 5.  I try to live a balanced life, where I make time to spend with my family and friends, as well as explore my interests and hobbies….from performing music, to competing in sports like soccer and basketball, to making fun of Jason Robillard’s facial hair.  And of course…there’s my love of running.

I’ve been running since I was in 9th grade, and barefoot running for around 2 years.  It is the one and only thing that I do for me.  If you actively read blogs like Jason’s, then I probably don’t have to explain my passion for running with you.  You probably already have a pretty good idea.

Well besides being much taller, more attractive, and more humorous than you, I bet we’re the same in a lot of ways.  We all have family, relationships, jobs, hobbies, and all sorts of commitments that make our lives hectic and busy.  At the same time, we all have a lot of running-related goals.  And I’m sure at one time or another, your lives have gotten in the way of those goals.

Although many in the blogosphere hang on my every word for inspiration, that’s not really my purpose here today.  I’m not a motivational speaker.  But I do know a thing or two about sticking to a running schedule.  I haven’t fallen off a running schedule since I started running seriously over 5 years ago.  And I don’t think I’ve pissed off too many people doing it.

I’ve trained for a marathon while taking care of a newborn baby.  Not at the same time mind you.  That’s how child services gets called.  I’ve run every day while working two jobs.  I maintained 40 miles per week while attending three-a-day varsity soccer practice.  I’m currently training for an ultra marathon while working 50+ hours a week.  I’m not telling you all this to brag.  Wait…yes I am.  But I also just want you to know a bit about my running resume.  You decide if I’m worth listening to…

Given my massive knowledge of…well…pretty much everything, Jason has asked me to talk to you all a little bit about how I have stayed on track for so many years.  I told him that I would, mostly because he keeps “poking” me on facebook.  That feature is really annoying.  I’m also glad to give back to Barefoot Running University, the college that helped me become the towering pillar of barefoot awesomeness I am today.  Since I refuse to support my Alma matter financially, this is really the only option.

I’m here to tell you that staying on track isn’t a discrete set of steps.  It’s as simple as maintaining a high level of motivation.  If you do that, running always stays near the top of your priority list.  At the same time, you need to keep an eye on things to make sure your other responsibilities remain where they’re supposed to be.

Sound vague and amorphous?  Well simmer down, and let me boil it down to a few tips.

Awesome Tip #1: Have a Goal

Let me make one thing clear.  Running is not a goal in and of itself.  Running is an activity.  The only person whose can “just ruuuuuuuun” is Forrest Gump.  And really, what he did was to run aimlessly across the country with wicked awesome facial hair.  Remember that part of the movie where he abruptly stops running in the middle of nowhere and goes home?  Without a goal you’ll end up like that someday.  But I doubt you’ll do it halfway between your house and Montana.  Your lazy ass probably won’t even leave the house in the first place.

You’d be surprised how many runners go out and run without any real purpose.  They just go out and do it.  That might be fine for a little while, but soon something will happen.  Maybe it gets boring.  Maybe something else comes up.  Maybe it’s not fun for them.  And when that happens, they’re all going to pull a Forrest Gump.  They might not stop and go buy a shrimping boat, but they will start doing something else with their time.

And it all could have been avoided if they just had a goal.  It doesn’t have to be anything big or crazy.  Maybe it’s as simple as running three times this week.  But you need to have something to pull your week, your month, or your year into focus.

Your goal should be something that motivates you.  If races motivate you, sign up for races.  If you want to hit a certain mileage, go for that.  I’m a race guy myself.  So I sign up for several races per year of various distances.  Then I dictate my mileage according to my next race.  It makes me feel like my training is always building toward something.  I have a direction.  Having a goal can help you feel like that too.

Now you don’t have to sign up for 10+ races a year like I do to stay motivated.  But I do think you need to have mulitple goals to stay motivated all year.  If nothing else, I think you need to have at least one short-term and one long-term goal per year.  They don’t all have to be cut from the same gib.  Maybe your short-term goal is mileage…to run your first 10 miler.  Your long-term is to run a half-marathon this year.  Fine.  You’re  short-term goal keeps you going out the door day by day.  Your long-term goal gives you something to build for throughout the year.

Awesome Tip #2: Make an Appointment with Running

From kindergarten on, I’ve always had a schedule of some kind.  A class schedule.  A work schedule.  A game schedule for sports.  If you live on Planet Earth, and you’re over the age of 5, you live by the clock.  If you’re under the age of 5, why are you reading my blog post?  It’s not age appropriate.

Anyway, this clock-following behavior doesn’t just apply to when you’re at school or work.  It dictates what you do throughout your day; even if you’re not fully aware of it.  For example, you probably have a rough idea of when you get home from work or school every day.  You also know approximately when you eat dinner, when you take your kids to their sporting events, when you or your kids go to bed, and most of your other daily activities.

For some reason though, when it comes to working out, most people don’t follow the clock.  Instead, everyone tries to “squeeze in” a workout into your daily activities.  To me, “squeeze in” is code for “I’m looking for something to blame when I don’t work out tonight.”  The typical fall-guy in that scenario is time.  When I hear the words “squeeze in”, I assume that you’re already booked up for the night, and don’t have any time to work out unless something comes up and you find some free time.  So when you don’t work out that night, you can blame it on how busy you are and look like you did everything you could.  Ego saved.  Fitness goal fail…

If you want to be regular with your running plan, you need a different framework.  You can’t just “squeeze in” workouts anymore.  Because to “squeeze in” a workout implies that working out isn’t a priority to you.  If it was, you’d have put a spot for it in your busy schedule.

What’s the answer?  Make time for running.  Actually schedule a time in your day when you have the time to complete a run of your desired distance.  Then when that time comes, go out and do it.  And do it for every day that you run.

What happens at work when you can’t make a meeting, or miss it entirely?  You reschedule it.  The same thing applies for your running.  If you can’t run at your normally scheduled time, you need to think about when you can, and do it then.  Running needs to have the same priority that any other important event would have in your life; at least an event that’s important enough to schedule.

Read part two here.

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6 Comments

  1. Barefoot Running University » Staying Motivated: Five Steps to Achieving Running Awesomeness Part Two
    February 18, 2011

    [...] following post is the second part of an article written by Christian Peterson.  Find the first part here, and Christian’s blog [...]

  2. David Sutherland
    February 17, 2011

    I absolutely agree on scheduling running time, and having short and long term running goals. For example, I have recently started going to work an hour earlier so that I can get in a late afternoon run before it gets dark. My winter training for Boston has gone much better this time around as a result, and I still get home to my family at the same time as always. The tradeoff is that that I have to go to bed an hour earlier, which means less TV time. Boo hoo.

    By the way, although I’m sure I am not as funny or good looking as “His Awesomeness”, at 6’4″ (or 6’5″ after a good night of spine-stretching horizontalness), I might not be much shorter…

    • The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
      February 17, 2011

      MGBG is a towering 6’7″. So spine-stretch away. You’re pretty close.

      • David Sutherland
        February 17, 2011

        I assume you’re measuring in your Skecher Shape-Ups :)

        • The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
          February 17, 2011

          Yes. I should clarify that I barefoot run…inside of Sketcher Shape-Ups, to further enhance the barefoot feeling.

          How do you think I got my legs to look the ugly lamp in The Christmas Story? Well…at least shape-wise.

  3. Tweets that mention Barefoot Running University » Staying Motivated: Five Steps to Achieving Running Awesomeness -- Topsy.com
    February 17, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ultrarunning Matters, Jason Robillard. Jason Robillard said: RT @barefootjason Staying Motivated: Five Steps to Achieving Running Awesomeness http://bit.ly/dZogTX [...]