3 Ways to Jumpstart Your Summer Running Goals

motivational tips for running
Photo by @alexa.michelson for Twenty20

Summer has begun and hopefully so has the journey towards achieving your fitness goals. Whether you have a race at the end of the summer or in the fall, or just want to get out more everyday, now is the time to jumpstart your progress towards reaching those fitness benchmarks.

If you’re feeling lost as to what you’re running for in the first place, consider signing up for a goal race. Race or not, focusing on these three P’s will make this summer your fittest and most fun yet: positivity, persistence, and people.

  1. Think Positively.

Deep down, somewhere past your “I hate running” thoughts, you actually want to do this. You can, and will, set your intentions to make every run more enjoyable and to achieve your goals, the goals that you want to achieve.

Being a professional ultrarunner, people often think that my relationship with running is all butterflies and roses. Not the case!

There are days I struggle with motivation and wonder how I’m going to get my run in. But it’s on those days I have the opportunity to flex my mental muscles. I remember that I have goals and I set my intentions accordingly. I remember that I’m lucky to be healthy. I remember that negativity is a waste of my time.

Sometimes, I put my run off till the end of the day and it doesn’t happen. Those are the days I don’t flagellate myself, but I’m really disappointed that I didn’t prioritize my goals.

Sports psychologists recommend that acknowledging negative thoughts is okay, and is impossible not to do, as told by Runner’s World.

“Rather than deny defeatist thoughts, runners should acknowledge them, analyze them, and learn to convert them into affirmations such as: What a beautiful day to run.’

It’s all in the attitude. Running is hard regardless. You will have negative thoughts. Just might as well focus on the positives of your running journey instead. And during the summer, let’s be real, you have a lot to be positive about!

2. Have Persistance. Run More. And Keep Running.

When I’m getting back into shape after taking time off after a big race, running is hard. It’s not fun because I feel out of shape and heavy. It feels like I’ll never feel fit again. But deep down, I know that the key is to keep at it.

I know that in two, or maximum three weeks, I will feel better. A standard eight-mile loop won’t feel like summiting Everest, and I’ll have more energy after my runs to focus less on my training and more on the rest of life. “Getting back into shape” life is exhausting!

If you’re losing weight or running is brand new to you, your period of acclimation might be longer than two to three weeks. It could be two months—just in time for the end of summer. But you have to keep running to get there. You cannot let up during the beginning of your goal period or else you’ll never get over the hump.

So whether your goal is to finish a 5k or to run a PR in a 50k, the key is: you have to run! My favorite example of actually how simple this equation is from a Sports Illustrated article about Michael Phelps.

Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics a reporter asked Phelps:

“Can you give me two exercises people can do to get a swimmer’s type body?”

“Well … they could swim.”

Similarly, people who want to run or to ‘look like a runner’ have to run. Doing pull-ups isn’t going to help your running as much as getting out the door for an actual run will.

3. Run with people.

Making your runs more enjoyable usually involves people. So join a group fun run. Go to a November Project workout. Look up a local running store’s fun run schedule. Chances are, there will be people slower than you. Run with them and running will feel easier and more fun than it ever has before.

Also, the perception of effort is a key attribute of running. Either you think it’s hard or you think it’s easy and fun. For some runs, you need the latter. Not every run should be borderline unbearable.

Running with people, talking about things other than running, and running outside are all ways to lower your perceived effort. And who knows, you might even make a friend or two.

Lastly, summer group runs are usually packed. People want to get outside in the nice weather. Capitalize on that group energy and see it all the way through the end of your goals.

What is your toughest obstacle when it comes to running this summer? What do you do to make your runs feel easier?