A blog by runners. For runners.

Staying motivated without a goal event

running-with-no-goalWhen it comes to running, the number one thing you need to a.) be consistent and b.) improve is to have a goal in mind. It’s pretty much Running 101.

For the majority of people, a goal is defined as a specific event — a half marathon race, for example. But, as I mentioned in my Running on a Budget post, I’ve been running far fewer races these days. So, what happens to training with no race on the calendar?

Well, there are plenty of other goals to keep you lacing up day after day. In fact, keeping the schedule wide open can be quite liberating, especially if your life is particularly hectic (new baby, promotion at work, etc.) in other areas at the moment. It’s just a matter of re-framing your mind with regard to expectations and success.

Here are some ways to stay motivated:

  • Pick a days-per-week goal*. Maybe you’ve been cruising along running 4 days a week for the past 6 months. Have you ever considered delving into 5/week territory? Even another 3 miler can make a different in your overall base mileage and confidence.
  • Pick a weekly mileage goal*. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to hit your stride with more overall distance each week. Consider adding a few extra easy pace miles to a couple of your workouts until you hit your goal.
  • Make your own race. Who says you need a crowd to get a PR? Consider mapping out a 5K, 10K, or longer distance “race” in your neighborhood and do time trails every month or so. You’d be surprised how much racing yourself regularly can increase the training momentum.
  • Try trail running or track work. Slogging along on the same roadways can definitely take a toll on motivation. Find some new scenery and you might find yourself running faster or longer than you do on your usual prescribed paths.
  • Start a training log. For the longest time, I didn’t keep close track of my workouts. When I did, I made myself much more aware of my progress and shortcomings. Writing down each workout — the distance, the pace, how I felt, etc. — also allowed me to observe patterns in my training and remedy issues (like not eating enough before a run or waiting until late in the day, skipping the run entirely) that were keeping me from advancing.
  • Find a running buddy. One of the best ways to keep consistent and accountable is to add another person to the mix. Find a friend or ask around your local running club for people running your pace. A lot of clubs hold weekly events like group long runs where a bunch of people meet up and pound the pavement — regardless of specific goals.
  • Challenge yourself with cross-training. Sometimes what you need to jump-start the running engine isn’t running at all. A spinning or yoga class could get you feeling strong in another way and reinvigorate your passion for the sport.

* Be sure to ease into new and different routines slowly to avoid overuse injuries. When increasing mileage, try to pay attention to the 10-percent rule, wherein you don’t increase your mileage by more than 10 percent each week.

How do you stay consistent with no race on the calendar?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.