I’m pretty sure most of my readers know just how difficult it is to fit in exercise and stay motivated to do it when you’re a busy mum. I can’t really take my 5yo and 2yo to the gym with me. The creche at my local gym has very limited hours – and the 5yo is too old for it! So my only options are to exercise when their dad is home and able to watch them properly, or when they’re both at school/nursery (when I have 100 other things to get done).
I know lots of mums who do exercise classes. I wish that I could, but I find it difficult to commit to turning up somewhere at the exact same time each week, and to pay for it too! So that’s one of the reasons I’ve gotten more into running. I did it a little before I had kids, but I was never enthusiastic. But now I’m getting more and more into it.
As you may have seen from an earlier post, I’ve actually signed up to do a 10K and blog about it in support of The Children’s Society. It’s a great charity that improves the lives of disadvantaged kids across the UK, and I’m so pleased to be working with them. But it’s a lot of pressure! I’m such a slow runner. I’m hoping I’ll be able to run the 10K before they close the course and send everyone home! So I really need to stay motivated with my training. And it’s not always easy.
So if you are trying to keep on running as well, here are my tips to help you stick with it.
1. Just put your shoes on and give it a go
It sounds kind of obvious, but the hardest part is actually getting outside, no matter what the weather or how you are feeling. I just sort of screw my eyes up tight, put on my gear, and go outside. At worst, I will give up before I’ve done the distance I want, right? But it’s still further than if I stayed on the sofa.
2. Think hard about what your intentions are with running
I’m more into intentions than goals these days as I’ve been learning about mindfulness. There was a great talk about this at the Lucky Things Meetup I went to a short time ago. Basically, goals are more rigid, and carry with them a fear of failure, whereas with intentions, you can celebrate your successes along the way.
So for me, my intention is to train the best I can for the 10K, and to get fitter in the process. This way, every run I do is a success in itself, even if I missed doing one earlier in the week because life took over!
3. Use your feelings
It sounds a bit Jedi, but running is a great way to take stock of your feelings, and it is true that exercise helps your mental health anyway. I’ve been going through a hard time lately myself, grieving for someone I love very much. So some days I am very sad or very angry. On sad days, I run and cry a little. No one notices if tears are streaming down when you’re sweating as well. On angry days, I take it out on the pavement and my legs and run harder. But even if you’re perfectly happy, running can be joyous as well. I’ve come to love the freedom of it – not weighed down by a handbag or any small people to look after.
4. Reward yourself
If there is something you’d really like to do instead of running, just promise yourself that you can do that thing after running. My runs are often followed by cups of tea, bottles of beer, chocolate, naps or a film.
5. Sort your music out
I’ve discovered that the right music can make a world of difference to how you feel when you’re running. It might not be the same music you normally listen to! And you need to keep it fresh. Nothing makes the somewhat boring task of running more boring than listening to the exact same playlist every time. It is worth it to subscribe to a streaming service so you can try lots of different types of music. I use Google Play because it auto-builds playlists based on what you’re doing and the genre you like or choose. I’ve discovered I like running to rap music, even though it’s not what I normally listen to. Something about the rhythmic beat coupled with a bit of aggression…
6. Don’t overdo it
If you are feeling physically ill, do not push yourself into running as it could make things worse and put you out of commission. Also, make sure you build up your distance and speed slowly to avoid injuring yourself. If you’re just starting out, the Couch to 5K programme is brilliant. When I did it I downloaded an app with the programme on it (C25K by RunDouble on Android). It automatically told me when to run and walk, and also comes with improver programmes for after you’ve managed your 5K.
7. Invest in your running
One of the great advantages of running is that it’s a lot cheaper than classes or monthly gym memberships. However, it’s a really great idea to get some proper running gear. Well fitted trainers, a good sports bra and some running tights will make you feel better and help prevent injury when you’re running. A pair of headphones that won’t fall off and a holder for your phone are a good idea too. And if you’ve invested money in gear for running, you’ll feel less inclined to quit.
8. Have someone else depend on you
If you really want to kick yourself up the rear end to keep running, then get yourself into a situation in which you’ll disappoint someone else if you don’t do it! That’s what I’m doing by signing up to the run the 10K for The Children’s Society. I don’t want to disappoint the charity and my sponsors by not being able to do it. Learn more about joining one of The Children’s Society’s challenges here.
If you don’t want to do a formal run or other challenge, simply enlisting a friend to run with you might also be a good way to stay motivated.
I hope you’ve found my tips useful. What are your top tips for staying motivated?
The Children’s Society has waived my entry fee to the London Vitality 10K in exchange for my blogging, but I am still trying to raise some money for this great cause. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to my JustGiving page.