Running: 10 tips to stay motivated

Don't despair. Lack of motivation strikes even the most disciplined runners. Try to remember how good you felt about yourself after completing your last run and be proud that you've started a running program at all. Then, follow these ten handy tips to keep yourself going.
  1. Retail therapy. New kicks may be just the jump-start you need. If your shoe soles look worn and the arch is drooping, it's time to shop. Most experts recommend at least one new pair a year. Remember, supportive, comfortable shoes are imperative to the health of your feet, ankles, and knees.
  2. Toe-tapping motivation. Try running with headphones. Make a tape of "get moving" songs or tune in to your favorite radio station. If you make a tape, record a few motivational quotes. Hearing your own voice will at least make you chuckle! Just be careful not to turn up the volume so high that you can't hear traffic!
  3. The right time. Some early birds find they are most likely to run first thing in the morning. Others have more energy in the evening. Try bringing running gear to work and trotting for lunch. Experiment to see what works best for you -- or do a combination for variety.
  4. Location inspiration. Break up the monotony by trying different routes -- explore new areas in your town or drive to a park, beach, or new neighborhood for a change of scenery.
  5. Speed limits. Vary speed and intensity to stay focused and build endurance and strength. Mix running on flat ground with walking uphill, or try running fast for 20 seconds or longer and then jogging slowly to catch your breath.
  6. Dress up. If you're feeling particularly unmotivated, just put on your running gear and aim for a ten-minute run. Once the shoes are on, you're less likely to back out. You may even surprise yourself once you get going and complete the entire run. If not, ten minutes is better than none!
  7. Find a buddy. When someone else depends on us, we always perform better -- or at least show up. Having someone to talk to while exercising can help pass the time, too.
  8. Set a goal. AIDS Walks, Race for the Cure, or local fun runs are great events to keep you training, and they often have local clubs that will help you design a fitness plan. If you like to go solo, create your own goal: Run five miles, three hours, whatever you want. Just stick to it.
  9. Energize. Keep up your energy by eating well (protein, carbohydrates, and fat included), taking rest days after long runs (at least one rest day a week), and staying hydrated throughout the day. Have healthy snacks before you run -- junk food will slow you down.
  10. Write it in ink. Make a running schedule and stick to it. Write down the days to run, how far to go, and which route to take. Once your schedule is in writing, you're more likely to do it. After your run, write down how it felt and what you thought of the route. These schedules will mark your progress and help motivate you in the years to come.

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