In the past, when I was in a running lull, I signed up for a race. Having a deadline on the calendar was usually enough to get my butt in gear – whether the event be 3 weeks or 3 months away.
Lately, though, that hasn’t been enough.
A couple of months ago, I registered for a race in an effort to get excited. But I completely phoned in my training, and the race didn’t go well. I was nowhere near a PR, and I also felt weak and completely off of my game mentally.
That’s when I finally admitted something needed to change.
So when I saw some of my neighbors “talking” on Facebook about a summer speedwork group, I figured I’d give it a try. The group would meet one morning a week for two months and do speed training lead by a coach. I don’t usually run in groups, but I needed something new.
The night before our first session, I regretted signing up. Setting my alarm for 4:30 a.m. when I wasn’t training for a race seemed silly. I didn’t have to run, so why should I run so early?
I had already paid for speed training so I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed. I showed up to the group and was instantly greeted by a couple of dozen warm, smiling faces.
During the warm up, I loved hearing about everyone’s recent accomplishments and upcoming goals. The actual workout was really challenging – and humbling – and I came home feeling happy that I joined the group.
The next week was more of the same. I connected with new and old running buddies and loved hearing about upcoming race schedules. Then one of my friend asked me, “what’s next on your schedule, Jen?” and I stumbled over my words. I explained how I haven’t felt motivated lately, and I didn’t really know what was next.
So, every week I just listened to everyone’s race plans and pushed myself hard during the workouts. Sometime around week four, the oddest thing happened. My friends were talking about a fall half marathon and I blurted out, “I’ll do it, too!”
Unlike the race I did last month, I’m actually really excited for this event. I’ve already started training, I’m following a loose plan, and I’m using this half marathon training as a base for an early winter full marathon.
It feels good to have running plans. And it feels great to have that fire reignited. That feeling of wanting to push myself as hard as possible during training so I can achieve race PRs is back after a 6-month hiatus, and it feels awesome.
I never would have thought that meeting up with fellow runners once a week at 5 a.m. would be the ticket to finding my lost motivation. But it was.
If you’re lacking in the motivation department, I encourage you to run with other runners a few times. It’s funny, even though running is such an individual sport, motivation seems to be contagious.
Written by Jen Matz.