Most followers of Be Strong know that both Rick and I are keen runners and advocates of all things running, but I will let you into a secret… I kind of lost my mojo for a while and found it really hard to get it back. I love running I really do, but the whole change of leaving our full time jobs, a massive change in routine and lifestyle left me floundering when it came to my running.
Chasing dreams and PBs
After a stressful couple of years at work, taking the huge decision to leave our jobs and follow our dreams, I spent the last couple of months of 2018 on a high. I had undertaken a challenge of running a 10k a month throughout 2018, and the last race was the Ribble Valley 10k on 30th December, 2 days after I returned from an all inclusive holiday to the Canary Islands for Christmas (not the best training!).
All year I had been chasing a personal best (PB) and only succeeded once, by one second. I had also made a pledge to myself, that I really wanted to be able to run a 10k race in less than 50 minutes. It was a challenge as my PB was currently around the 51 minute mark, so I had a lot of work to do, and my training was sporadic. I managed to do two 6 mile runs whilst I was on holiday, so had at least kept my legs moving, but I was definitely not at race pace! I turned up on race day feeling anxious and in my heart of hearts, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me, but was prepared to give it my best shot.
Rick and another friend, Sid, absolutely beasted me around that race route. It was most definitely the hardest run I have ever done. My thighs were on fire from about 8k, but I kept pushing, thanks to Rick and Sid, on my shoulder and in my ear, telling me to keep pushing. As I approached the finish line I could see I was in with a chance of getting the sub 50, but I needed to dig deep for the last 400 metres. And dig deep I did, to the point where a photo of me crossing the line with Rick, shows me on the verge of tears. Rick even says to me now, ‘I don’t know how you did it, you lost it so many times and then pulled it back and got back on pace.’
I crossed the line and my legs gave way, I had to crawl out of the finishing pen and Rick and Sid had to hoist me up with my arms to sit on a wall. I had given everything my legs had, and I did it – my time 49.26! I was elated!
‘Mojo’ has left the building
However, that was to be my last race for a while. 2018 was such a full on year, on a personal and running level that I decided to take a break from races, and to be honest, I had my PB, it hurt like hell to get it and I just didn’t know if I would ever be able to do it again! Seems a bit cowardly I know, and totally not like me, as I am normally the one always striving to improve and get better and better, but it is just where I was at in my head.
2019 started and we continued building and developing Be Strong, and my focus switched to this as well as spending more time with my family. At this point I really started to struggle to fit running in. It frustrated me, because I used to fit it in with no problem when I was working in a full time job as well. It was bizarre. It didn’t stop me running, and I enjoyed it when I did it, but I wasn’t dying to go out for a run, particularly on my own, and this had never bothered me previously either. I had no inclination to push myself, to try hard, or even run any particularly long distance.
Finding the spark again!
But then after taking part in the #21daychallenge in May and June, I found a bit of a spark again. It reignited my feeling and need for routine, I felt like I was getting some control back, and by the end of the first week I decided I was going to do the Manchester Half Marathon in October. A few more weeks passed but I felt a routine slowly starting to develop with my runs, an early morning run on Thursday was set as a regular thing with a friend. Step 1 of a routine forming. My other weekly runs were still a bit hit and miss, but Thursdays was on.
Then at the start of the second week of July I jibbed on an early Monday morning solo run, after a really busy weekend and felt so annoyed at myself. It just so happened, that our article that week was one of Paula Watson’s articles on how to make physical activity your friend, and it was reading that article, that made me realise what I wasn’t doing, and why I was floundering in this world of lost motivation. I also knew that training had to very soon start in earnest for the October half marathon. I had to start building my mileage up, so that meant a training plan had to be put in place. My missed Monday morning run, couldn’t turn into another and another, so Tuesday morning came and I was up and at ’em.
It was on that 5 mile, 6.15am Tuesday run, that I felt my mojo return. While I pounded the canal towpaths, trails and pavements of Accrington, I worked out when would be the best times to run and how I would fit this into my new lifestyle whilst still keeping my family and husband at the top of my priority list.
It was on that run that I worked out everything I needed to enjoy physical activity:
- there was a regular routine
- I could fit it in with everything else there is to juggle in life
- it was realistic
- and most importantly I had a goal to aim for to keep me focused and on track
For the first time in weeks I felt content with my running and itching to get out and start training properly.
Find your mojo
We have all experienced times when our motivation, whether it is for exercise, activity or just being healthy, ups and leaves. We can get on a path of self destruction, where we can see what we are doing wrong but can’t seem to bring it back again.
If you are feeling this way, there are things you can do to try and find it again.
First of all, if it’s exercise related, I would recommend taking a short break, a week or two maybe and try something else. Maybe your body needs a rest, and you know what they say – ‘a change is as good as a rest!’ Set your stall out though – make the break time bound, so that you don’t just go on a permanent rest! Changing the type of exercise you do will strengthen your body in other ways, leading to all round fitness.
Andy Murray, the Wimbledon champion, recently had an epic comeback from a persistent hip injury and subsequent operation that led him to believe that he may never play tennis competitively again. One of the reasons for his return was that he reportedly tried other training methods, during his recovery. He apparently took up breakdancing and gymnastics, and then returned to Wimbledon 2019, to play in the doubles competition – something which he himself never thought would happen.
Secondly, have a long hard think about setting yourself a serious goal. Something to chase, to keep you focused, but isn’t too far away in the future. And, whilst it will stretch you, it is achievable. There are so many events available to have a go at these days, from inflatable obstacle courses, to challenging walks, open water swims and of course plenty of cycling and running events, or our Be Strong Woodland Warrior event, maybe!?!
Making a public declaration to participate in an event or signing up for a charity event can give you some real focus and a sense of responsibility, to not let the side down.
Thirdly, get yourself a routine. It can take a while to find a routine, and if you are new to physical activity and exercise, start slowly. Once a week is great, then when that routine settles in, add another session, and another when you are comfortable with that.
Research shows that people who ritualise their exercise behaviours, are more likely to maintain weight loss. This research by Shucmacher et al, went on to say there wasn’t necessarily a better time of day to do exercise, but doing it at the same time, on a regular basis, gave greater chances of success. In the study, 68% of the 375 people who took part in the study maintained their weight loss when they exercised at the same time of day throughout the week.
If you are struggling with motivation whether it is for exercise or just to stay healthy and eat well, look at why you want to do this, and take each decision at a time. Don’t rush into a bad decision, thinking ‘it doesn’t matter’, take a moment to think if this is what you really want. Is the action that you are about to take conducive to your ultimate goals and your reasons for doing it?
Whatever it is – don’t give up completely and resign yourself to it never happening for you. Take a step back, reassess and come up with a new plan to get you to where you want to be. You will get there, it just takes time.