Running without a starting line
Running without a finish line, or this year, a start line, can be discouraging. But taking that unreliable schedule and turning it into motivation and structure can be the boost you need to keep pushing on.
Chris Lundstrom, Head Coach of MN Distance Elite (formerly Team USA Minnesota), shares his wisdom on pursuing running and increasing motivation during a time where races are limited and schedules are unusual.
Often times, athletes are motivated by their performance, specifically their performance at an upcoming race. Due to the past year of cancelations, athletes have been forced to find motivation in different ways. Lundstrom encourages his athletes to take time and focus on an area of weakness to further develop. For example, if a runner has strong endurance, they could take a month or two to work on speed.
In addition to focusing on an area of growth, motivation during a drought can come from setting and accomplishing interim goals. “Keep the focus on more short-term goals because we don’t necessarily know exactly when the next big thing is,” Lundstrom said. “What am I trying to accomplish this month, this week, or today even?” Checking in with your goals and being honest on how you are feeling can help the process. Understanding your progress comes from what you do everyday. Positive momentum derives from taking little steps everyday towards your goal.
Most runners face self-doubt and negativity at some point in time, and knowing how to handle this is crucial. “Allow yourself to feel that [self-doubt] and understand everybody has that. And you know, that’s okay. Accept it, it’s there, and try to do something with it that is just more constructive.” Lundstrom said.
During this time, planning on in-person races can be unreliable, but that doesn’t mean you have to change your goals in training each week. You cannot control whether a race will happen but you can control the effort you put in. “Here’s what I want my effort to be, and knowing that the results will follow from putting in the right effort,” Lundstrom said. “And understanding and doing some reflection on what does motivate you to keep getting out there.”
A useful way to set appropriate and accomplishable short-term goals is to connect your schedule and your daily practices. If you are motivated purely by social running, these times have probably hindered that ritual. Lundstrom encourages runners to find at least one or two people to safely run with to keep that motivation going. On the contrary, if you are motivated by running alone, embrace this time by getting out of the house and running by yourself.
The first 5 to 10 minutes can be miserable, but get out there. “It’s not real exciting to run my same loop that I always run, but by 5 minutes into it, I’ve forgotten that and I’m feeling better,” Lundstrom said. “Get started. And that get’s you a long ways.”