SINGAPORE - Whether you're a seasoned athlete or someone starting out, we all have days when we don't feel like doing anything, much less going for a run. And in long-distance virtual events, such as The Straits Times Virtual Run's 175km race - which was created to mark the paper's 175th anniversary - it may not be easy to keep up your momentum for a long time.
Here are some ways to stay motivated:
1. Mix it up
Vary your running routes, distance as well as types of runs (for example, intervals, long-slow distance, etc). Choose a new place to explore - whether it is a neighbourhood or the city. Change the time that you run too. The conditions at various locations will look and feel different depending on whether it is in the morning, evening or at night.
Changing your routine will help you stay fresh and give you something to look forward to at each session. You can also vary the type of exercise you do. Other sports such as swimming or badminton will help to build up different muscle groups and improve cardiovascular health.
2. Rest and recharge
Having ample rest in between runs is important to reduce the chances of fatigue and a weakened immune system. When you feel recharged, you will reduce your chances of dreading your exercise and promote better performance.
3. Pace yourself
Take note of your running pace as it may affect your mindset during the run. Starting off at a very fast pace tends to result in runners struggling later, which may lead to a negative mindset and reduced motivation.
Make it a habit to start runs conservatively and allow the body to warm up. This will also ensure there is adequate energy to last throughout the run and reduce the chances of injury.
4. Run with others
Friends are one of the biggest motivators you can have. Grab a buddy to run with you. Buddies can share advice and tips and ensure that each keeps to his/her plan. Gather a group of friends - with current Covid-19 guidelines in mind - and together, plan a schedule or goal for each run. Explore your strengths and limits together. You can venture to different places around Singapore to stave off boredom.
Apart from running together as a group, you can also initiate friendly challenges to motivate each other to improve and have fun at the same time.
5. Choose your course
Unlike an actual race, the ST Virtual Run gives participants the freedom to choose their running route.
Take this chance to map out the route that you feel most comfortable on and avoid the types of routes you dislike, for example, climbs. You may also use different ways to motivate yourself, such as running in loops and counting down the number of laps left. Lap running allows runners to work on their mental strength.
6. Music as a companion
A running buddy can also be in the form of music or a podcast. Listening to your favourite songs can get you hyped up. Create a playlist of your favourite music and upbeat songs to keep you moving. But remember to stay alert and conscious of your surroundings. I recommend using only one side of your earpiece or lowering the volume to ensure you will still be able to hear what is going on around you.
7. Challenge others
Besides competing against your buddies, you can also measure yourself against others who pass through the same sections in your route or online. You can share your results (for example, speed or distance) on a common platform or even over social media or chats.
By having an interest group on social media platforms, you can compare your results even outside Singapore and this constant desire to reach the top can be a healthy motivation for runners.
8. Allow others to track you
Various smartwatches and running apps now come equipped with live tracking and can be shared with friends who will be able to follow your live progress during runs. You will not want to disappoint them, knowing that they are there to support you.
9. Reward yourself
Treating ourselves to a good meal or massage can help to recharge our physical and mental selves. Occasionally, getting new gear can also help you to reinforce your commitment to training and reignite the excitement of running. Reward yourself with rest days as well, by planning your run schedule to include rest days and a recovery week (preferably one out of five weeks) with cross-training or lower mileage.
10. Think of the benefits
Clocking your miles early will allow you to enjoy the serenity of the morning. Think of your run as time for yourself, a mini "getaway" from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine.
Last of all, don't wait for that "moment" when you feel it's time to go for a run, because that "moment" is created by you.
Loh Guo Pei is a former national athlete and certified coach who trains the New Balance Run Club. Follow this series over the next few weeks as he shares tips on tackling The ST Virtual Run's 175km distance.