As runners, there’s one more certainty in your life beyond death and taxes; occasional bouts of low motivation. It’s normal to feel like bagging a run every once in a while. You’re tired, it’s raining, you’d rather watch TV… If you fight the urge to back off though, you’ll reap many mental and physical benefits. Here are a few tips to help you find your running mojo again and get back out there! Change your surroundings Even a small tweak—Like running a familiar route in reverse can make a run feel fresh again and more interesting. If yet another run through your neighborhood doesn’t excite you, try meeting up with a friend at a new park or trail. It’s harder to bail when someone’s waiting for you. Change your pace Nothing dampens enthusiasm faster than repeatedly running the same route at the same pace. Instead, add short bursts of speed to a normal run and it will literally go by faster. Try this: After a run-walk 5-minute warm-up, pick a landmark up ahead and run at a ‘comfortably hard’ pace until you pass it. Then recover a bit with a slower jog until you’re ready to conquer another landmark. Just segmenting a run in this way can make things feel a bit different and new. Change your routine Any activity that raises your heart rate can be subbed in on days when running doesn’t appeal. Cycling, rowing, or using the elliptical at a gym can all do the job. No gym? Alternate bouts of cardio (running up the stairs, e.g. with some simple strength moves (push-ups, planks, e.g.) for short 10-minute intervals throughout your day to your favorite tunes to keep your heart and muscles primed. Change your mind Make a deal with yourself to run for just five minutes. Typically, once you’re out the door, you want to continue. However, if you don’t, maybe you do need a rest day, and now you know for sure. You can also help your mind look forward to a run by having a positive mantra or affirmation ready as your ‘Go To’ inner dialogue, even before you head out the door. Here are a few of my personal faves that either help me to get it in gear when I’d rather not, or give me a much-needed boost when I need one during long runs and/or speed sessions.
The struggle stops when gratitude begins
Every mile is a gift
Run the mile you’re in
Quick & light
Easy does it; keep it steady
Run with your heart
Another thing that can help your running mojo is to make sure that you’re fueling yourself well and feeling your best. To do that, here are some ‘Classic Superfoods’ to help keep your momentum going! Broccoli: One cup cooked supplies 276% of daily vitamin K needs, which may help to regulate your body’s vitamin D levels. This is especially key during the winter, when circulating levels of vitamin D dip. Broccoli also provides phyto-chemicals called glucosinolates that research shows may help to lower cancer risk. How to Eat It: Add broccoli to a chicken or beef stir-fry served over multigrain rice. Brussels Sprouts: These mini cabbages supply blood-cholesterol-lowering fiber, and a hefty dose of your daily vitamin C and vitamin K needs. How to Eat It: Lightly steaming allows the fiber in Brussels sprouts to go to work regulating cholesterol levels…Or try my fave: roasted, with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon and rosemary. Cauliflower: This little gem contains phytonutrients called indoles, which may lower cancer risk, and is a powerhouse for vitamin C. Try purple, orange, or green for a hit of antioxidants. How to Eat It: Steam, then mash cauliflower for a mashed potato substitute. Sweet Potatoes: Rich in carbs, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index when boiled (not baked), which helps to keep blood sugar levels steady. A medium sweet potato also contains about the same runner-friendly potassium as a banana. How to Eat It: Bake and drizzle with honey and cinnamon (and still keep your blood sugar in check!) for a pre-run snack. Onions: Red and yellow onions come loaded with a flavonoid called quercetin, which some research shows may combat inflammation resulting from heavy workouts. How to Eat It: Sauté or roast onions to bring out flavor while retaining the quercetin. Collard Greens: Collards are high in fiber, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The latter two are minerals crucial to healthy blood pressure. Studies also show that nitrates found in collard greens, spinach, and other “cooking greens” may improve blood flow to exercising muscles. How to Eat It: Collard greens make for a tasty tortilla or wrap substitute. Quick Salad: Toss 1 ¼ lb. shaved Brussels sprouts, ¾ cup chopped toasted walnuts, ¾ cup grated Asiago cheese, 3 Tbsp. Dijon vinaigrette, and salt & pepper to taste. (Makes 8 servings)…Total Yum!