Life of a College Runner: Motivation

Hello dear readers! As promised, I am back to writing once a week.

During the summer, it’s really difficult to stay motivated. There’s no set time for practice built into my day, so I’ve found myself trying to squeeze in some runs or split them up. It is a totally different atmosphere from what we’re used to while we’re at school. During preseason, our lives pretty much revolve around running. For some, it stays that way the majority of the year. In the summer, we all have jobs and other things we’re committed to, so sometimes it’s hard to have a chunk of time taken out of the day dedicated to just running. On the other hand, sometimes that’s really helpful. For me, it takes my mind off of things and allows me to relax or let loose some of my anger or pent-up energy. Yet one of the biggest struggles for me during the summer is motivation.

Monday

7 miles, 57:24 (8:12/mile)

My stomach didn’t feel great at first, but I pushed through it. I thought about turning around at the 3 mile mark, but I didn’t want to wimp out. Some pretty bad cramps hit me at around mile 5, but it wasn’t terrible. My first 4 miles were sub-8:00 pace, and it felt good.

And then when I got home, I decided to write a little message, proclaiming how I felt and how this summer has not gone the way I planned so far. It really helped to get it all out and know that I still have time to turn things around. Writing is my therapy as much as running is. I know that one solid month of training can go a long way, and that’s my plan: to eek out as many quality runs and workouts as I can over the course of the next five weeks until move-in. I want so badly to be in a good place when I come back, and to do that I first need to build up an aerobic base. I need to get out and run.

Tuesday

Morning: 2 miles, 16:43 (8:05/mile)

Night: 6 miles, 48:14 (8:05/mile)

I got off from work at around noon, and so I went for a run afterwards. It was quite toasty, being in the middle of the day, and I only did 2 miles and a couple of strides. I was dripping sweat by the time I got home.

Unfortunately, I did not re-hydrate enough after my afternoon run, so my 6 miles at night suffered. Even though my pace was the same, it was much harder to do. I tried to do the workout, 4 minutes easy/4 minutes hard, but I only made it through three or four reps. Still, I think it was a solid run.

Wednesday

5 miles, 43:48 (8:44/mile)

I had a dentist appointment this afternoon and it took forever, so I got home later than I expected and was really hungry. I ate a larger snack than I normally would at a later time than normal, so I felt really full when I ran. I decided to go with my mom tonight because we had a lot to talk about and I also didn’t feel great, so talking was nice. It made the run go by a lot faster. Also, I think I needed a slower night. I always love running with my mom because it reminds me of when I first starting running. She got me to run by talking about the books I was reading.

Thursday

3 miles, 24:20 (8:05/mile)

Again, I ran right when I got off work. I had also just eaten lunch, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. Turns out it was fine. I went with my mom and we just went out and back on the highway north of Keystone. There was an awesome cool breeze from the north as well, and that made it so much better. The way back was pretty warm, but that breeze felt almost like a fall day. It was odd because my mom and I used to do all of our runs on the highway, all throughout high school. Now I can’t imagine doing more than 4 miles on that road. There’s no shade, just a straight road with some hills, and it sounds like torture. I have no clue how we ran 10 or more miles out there.

5 miles, 40:48 (8:09/mile)

It was hot, and we didn’t have a breeze tonight. There were so many bugs between the 1.8 mile and the 2.5 mile, which made it that much worse. The actual running part wasn’t that bad, but my quads were pretty sore. I’ve been doing leg circuit a couple times a week and I’ve started doing core workouts again finally.

Friday

3.5 miles, 24:00 (7:40/mile)

It was supposed to be a tempo run, but I did it in the morning because I had a date that night. I don’t know why, but if I do more than 3 miles in the morning, I don’t feel good, and that’s what happened. I ran one mile warm-up, and then I did 7:35 and 7:29 for the next two, which felt pretty good. My legs are really tired.

Saturday

OFF

Sunday

10 miles, 1:27:48 (8:46/mile)

My mom, my dad, and I went up to La Porte City for our long run early this morning. When we started, it was around 76 degrees or so, and it was pretty humid. By the time we were done, it had climbed 10 degrees and had reached a heat index of 94. The first half wasn’t bad, I ran around 8:10–8:15 pace for the first five. But when I turned around, the heat got to me. At around 6.5, I felt like I was going to pass out, so I slowed to a walk and drank some water. Once I got going again, it was a little slow, but it was alright. I had to stop for water again at the 8 mile mark. The weird thing was, for all three of us, our GPS watches were off at the end. Mine was about a tenth of a mile off, even though I know I ran 10 miles. In the end, I was just happy to get 10 miles in. This next week, it’s going to get even hotter, so we’ll see how that goes.

So, motivation. It’s hard. But I think it gets easier if you pick out a couple things a day that are good about the run or the workout or the strength training. Just find something that you’re proud of each day, something you can look back on and say, “Yeah, I’m glad I did that.” You don’t have to be sub-8:00 pace for every run of every week. I learned that the hard way. But as long as you can feel good about what you’re doing, I think that’s all that matters. As long as you’re putting in some kind of work and effort to getting better, it’s a good day.

I keep a big whiteboard with my mileage and my goals on it, not just for running, but for other aspects of my life. That helps me, if I look at it everyday, stay accountable for what I’m doing. If I miss a mile, it goes up on the board. If I do leg circuit or abs, it goes on the board. Motivation is something I have a hard time with when I don’t have a team around me. But, as there are only four and a half weeks left, I’m doing the best I can with what I have.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. Until next week!

— Morgan

Teacher, Runner, Reader, and Writer. Destined for great things, I think.