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Motivation for Running
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Friday 28th January 2011


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Age Group Ironman athlete Lisa Picton is one on the "repeat offenders", who up to an including 2010, have completed every Ironman UK race. The 2010 event was also a pretty special event for Lisa, as she won her age group, having finished in a podium position the previous two years - qualifying for Kona in October last year.

With the weather still pretty cold and the night's dark, here Lisa outlines a few ideas and tips that help her keep motivated for running.


How many miles do you run in a typical training session?

I don't really have a typical run training session. I run 4-5 times per week and each run has it's own purpose, whether it be a 4-mile recovery run, a 7-mile tempo run or a 13+ mile endurance run.

How do you prevent boredom?

Lisa Picton on the run in KonaI love running and do not find it boring however I believe that here, it is variety that is key. These are some of the things I do to keep my running varied:

  • Vary the run route: I tend to favour some routes for doing timed runs but otherwise, I will mix the routes that I do.
  • Vary the terrain: off-road running is great for strength and proprioception but also I find that time flies by as you are so busy concentrating on your orientation and footing on uneven ground, not to mention running away from the farm cows, that before you know it you are home again!
  • Vary the structure within the session: I have a couple of runs a week with a very specific structure. I particularly enjoy a fartlek run whereby there are varied paced intervals throughout - this makes for an interesting training session.
  • Vary the people you run with: join a running club or else have running partners to suit the pace of run i.e. somebody who is slower than you will be great company for a recovery run and you may know other runners that will be able to stretch you on tempo runs.

How do you keep your mind focused on doing well?

It is important to have goals and these are very individual. I always have my target races to aim for and my sessions will be planned in preparation for these however you can also have session related goals. If you have short and long-term goals you want to achieve, it helps to focus your mind. I believe that goals should be reviewed and goal-setting should be an on-going process. Some people suffer from post-event ‘blues' but I think that continuously setting new goals to provide new focuses can help to avoid this.

Related to this, it is very easy to become caught up in monitoring pace, time, heart rate, etc on every run and I think that sometimes it is really important to just go out and run for the simple enjoyment of running - just run how you feel, enjoy the surroundings, enjoy feeling alive...

Are you ever tempted to stop, and if so, what do you do?

Yes, everybody can have an off day but it is important to think about the reason why you want to stop: if it because you are not performing due to tiredness/ illness, then it is important to listen to your body and have a rest, there is no point pushing through this and running the risk of injury. If you want to stop because you are finding it too hard, then you are running too fast and need to ease back and find a more comfortable pace. If you want to stop during a session that is intentionally tough with high intensity intervals, don't stop! Push through it and think about how rewarded you'll feel at the end and how much stronger you'll become as a result of this type of session.

Lisa PictonWhat advice would you have for our readers who may find long runs boring?

If you are training for a long distance event but struggle with boredom on long runs then firstly, I would consider the route carefully. It needs to be a run route that inspires you with nice scenery and varied terrain (either sections of off-road or an undulating course) to keep it interesting. I will sometimes choose to do laps of a shorter course which not only helps with pacing but also provides the opportunity to re-fuel and hydrate on each lap, this breaks up the long run naturally. This can also be achieved by breaking the run up into smaller sections involving a warm up, a couple of 20 minute intervals at a set intensity with a 5 min recovery in between, and a cool down.

Some runners like to listen to music or like to run with other people to make the run more social.

If you still cannot overcome the boredom of longer runs then there is also a lot of benefit to be had in doing split runs i.e. a run in the morning and another in the evening to achieve the intended mileage.

How important is an exciting running route, e.g. good scenery, for motivation during long runs?

I think for a lot of runners, although not all, it is very important - as outlined above!


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