A huge part of how and why we’re able to get ourselves out the door each day to run is that we have some motivation or goal to provide that impetus. Whether we’re trying to lose a few pounds or inches or we’re training for that half-marathon that’s coming up in 3 months we have tangible reasons to get out and run! But what if we have no tangible goal in mind? What if we have just a general notion of being healthy and fit? Is that enough to keep us running day after day?

It isn’t that our enthusiasm wanes as we age. It is that we have so much more in our lives to occupy our time yet we are still not given more than the 24 hours per day, 7 days per week that we’ve always had. If you find yourself dragging to start or complete your runs maybe you need to rethink why and how you’re going about the training. Maybe you need to adjust your thinking or your motivation or your reasons for running. It’s not going to make you a bad person to say after a little reevaluation that maybe running just doesn’t fit into your life the way it used to.

Maybe though, you don’t need to take it to that extreme. With that in mind, here are a few common sense guidelines to help you maintain your motivation and to keep you faithful and on target with your run program. Common sense implies that these guidelines are ones that we already know we should be following. If you are, great! If not, if you forget on occasion, let this list serve as a reminder for you. There is no great revelation here, no magic potion, no cattle prod. Just simple ideas that will enhance your enjoyment in your running and keep you physically, mentally and spiritually sharp in your training. There are more and we’ll talk about them in articles to come. For now though, here’s our list.

1) Listen to your body. Hear what it has to say. It has always been communicating with you but now it is more important that you heed what it’s communicating. Fortunately, I think that we are all a little more receptive to listening to what our bodies are telling us now than we were when we were younger. Just as we now realize that our parents really did know what they were talking about way back when, so too does our body know when that nagging little ache in the arch of your foot might be something to think of resting. Listen to it!

2) Develop and maintain healthy eating habits! Here’s one that I need to work on. I do not have a rigid diet that I follow religiously and I do not consistently write down the foods or meals that I put into my body. That being said, I do not over indulge in any food, I do eat my fruits and veggies, I even grow my own. I take my vitamins on most days; I drink lots of water though I don’t measure my intake. And while I do not have a nutritional plan per se, I am always conscious of the food that I put into my body. Referring back to number two on this list, I heed what my body tells me – the signals that it sends regarding the foods that I eat. The point here is that eating healthy foods will do so much more for you, for us, than merely allowing us to be more physically fit. It can be a foundation for our entire approach to our fitness plans!

3) Train regularly and consistently! As athletes approaching or in our middle years we just do not regain our fitness levels following extended layoffs as quickly as we once could. There are many factors that go into this, not all physical, many mental, some lifestyle. Remember, even as a teen, the feeling how it took an unreasonable amount of time to work yourself back “in to shape” compared with how rapidly your fitness level would decrease following a layoff from your usual physical activity? Well, it’s now magnified as we meet with our 40’s, 50’s and beyond! One way to combat this is to consistently maintain that level of fitness that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Whatever that level of fitness is that makes you feel good, whatever pace, whatever distance or time makes you feel healthy and vital as a runner, that’s where you want to stay. Once you’re at that level, it doesn’t take as much effort as you may think to maintain it. But it does take a consistent effort!

4) Remind yourself occasionally why you choose to run! Why, for you, running is a beneficial and worthwhile activity. Is it to get more fit and athletic? Is it to increase your level of fitness? Are you training for upcoming races? To lose weight? Just for the fun and sheer enjoyment of it? Whatever your reason for getting out there, it will sometimes get lost in the shuffle and activities of daily living. Don’t let that happen! Write down on a piece of paper what it is that motivated you to start running, or what motivates you now to continue running. “I calm my mind when I run”, as an example. “I feel energized when I finish a run and can complete the rest of my day with enthusiasm” is another. It is important to renew that motivation on occasion; it keeps the whole plan fresh. Pin your piece of paper up somewhere very visible to you, in a place you pass by daily. That’s easy enough right? Now your motivation is in front of you and reminding you daily or at least regularly of what it is that you love about running and why you choose to run!

5) Injuries! Damn them! You’ve had them, I’ve had them and we both will sustain more as we continue to pound our legs, our feet, our knees, our back, etc. into the ground! What do you do when you’re injured? Call it quits? Take up swimming? Or cycling? (Both wonderful activities by the way and great ways to cross-train) First and foremost, you must allow yourself time to heal. Truly heal, I mean! Find out what the injury is, what is happening to your body and then give it time to recuperate and regroup! Whether it’s something as simple as a little muscle soreness or a more serious knee injury, find out what you need to do to let it heal (rest and no running seems to always be a part of the routine unfortunately) and then do it! When you are able to return to running, you will feel so much better about resuming than if you had not allowed the injury to heal all the way or incorrectly and risk the possibility of further or more serious injury from over-compensating. It’s not worth it! There are many activities that you can do to help you stay in shape. I mentioned a couple above. If you find yourself injured maybe look at some activities that you haven’t tried before. Keep the journey fresh and exciting, even when you’re injured!

I know that each of you reading through this list is saying to yourself, “well, duh!” right? Me too. As I wrote these out I recognized how basic and fundamental these concepts are but that’s what makes them such powerful and timeless guidelines! There are countless strategies and exercises that we can add to our training plans to fine tune them as we progress but sometimes it really helps to get back to the basics and push all the other stuff to the side for awhile. Believe me; they will be there when you want to bring them back into the fold! For now though, just go out have and have yourself a nice, relaxing run. Sometimes that’s all that is needed to keep us motivated! It can be just that simple!

Happy and Healthy running!


Author's Bio: 

Runner, triathlete, husband, father and man of faith, Art Bradley shares with readers his unique perspective on what it means and what it takes to be a runner and triathlete past the age of 50. Also how to incorporate a successful training program into a successful life. Everyone of us receives something a little different and unique from participating in the activities that we love. It is Art's hope that by sharing his stories and thoughts on running, he can inspire and motivate other runners and triathletes - of all ages - to truly make of their efforts something that provides benefit and worthy fulfillment throughout their lifetime! Visit his blog www.cabradleywriter.com and soon, the website www.conversationsontherun.com