I recently ran a poll on my Facebook page asking runners if they struggled for motivation to run in the morning and the results of this poll revealed that 100% of the participants struggle for motivation to run in the morning! I'm hoping this blog can help with that.
The truth is that motivation fades for everyone. You should not depend on it but rather, create a system of habits that incorporate running as part of your every day schedule.
This is how I stay consistent with my running:
Every night before bed, I lay out all my running gear, accessories and gadgets on a table. I preset an alarm with a label that's typically something like - "No excuses! Get your butt out of bed!" or "Sleep is for broke people. Start running." Once that's done, and I'm settled I start to visualize my run the next morning. I imagine how good it feels to be alive, to be able to run comfortably in the cool, morning breeze. This nightly ritual keeps me locked in and focused and it generates excitement for my next run. Nowadays, what previously required motivation and willpower is now standard operating procedure. I don't feel like running sometimes, but I go out and run regardless. Don’t sit around waiting for the moment when you feel like going for a run, because that moment may never come. The trick is to just go, even when you don’t feel like running. Some of you reading this are employed and some (maybe most) days you don't feel like going for work but you show up anyway. It's the same system you need to employ for your running -- Get up, lace up and show up!
All in all, it's not about motivation; it's about the discipline of getting things done by building a system of habits.
Here are some tips that you can use to get your runs completed consistently:
Motivation is temporary, discipline is permanent.
Running can be therapeutic and serve as a means to care for yourself if you set it up right. I walk and run to enhance my life spiritually, physically and mentally and I'd love for you to do the same. I want to share my personal evolution through conscious efforts of using running as a self-care tool in the hope that it inspires you to care for yourself the same.
This is what I do:
Every Sunday is my long run/walk with God. It's a non-negotiable self-care and gratitude day. I find a route, plug in my favorite earphones and get going. The spirit fuels me as I express thankfulness through forward motion. I think of nothing but the good that's present in my life. I count all my blessings and give thanks to God for every single one of them. Words can't express the positive, joyful headspace this activity generates and the unbreakable state of mind it develops. To share a more specific example of this kind of experience and what I felt this last Sunday involved me going out as usual and this time around I gave thanks to God for giving me the courage to bring the Roadrunner Zambia concept to life. For helping me believe in myself when I wrestled with doubt and fear. He helped me see the value of my passion project. It really warms my heart when people reading my blogs tell me that I encouraged them to take up running or that I entertained them with a personal story and educated them with personal advice. If you run with God just once a week, then maybe on one of those days He might just show you your path. I've found purpose, peace and encouragement through this process, you might too.
Here's how you can care for yourself through running:
Just because you can walk and run everyday doesn't mean you should take that gift for granted. Say "thank you."
Sunday run playlist: Karen - Ni Lesa Fye, Olivia ft Pompi - Imagine, Pompi - Mulungu Samagona, Jay Rox ft Tim - Glory, Abel Chungu - Pamakufi, Excess Love - Mary Chinwo, HillaryJane - God of Always, Hillsong - What a beautiful name, Kirk Franklin - Imagine Me, MaryMary - Shackles, Jesus Culture - Your love never fails, Marvin Sapp - Never would have made it, Tasha Cobbs - Gracefully broken, Lecrae - Don't waste your life, Cece Winans - More than I wanted
The summer's here and nobody is being spared from the sun's fury! The weather presents a different kind of challenge to a runner and if the necessary precautions are not taken then the outcome can be fatal. I have a story to share with you of how I once picked a fight with the sun...It didn't end well; zuba inani menya kuipa!
This is my story:
I woke up one day feeling very strong and fit but I was late for an early morning run and house chores were waiting on me. I made my bed, cleaned up my room and made breakfast. I gobbled the 5 star breakfast I had made and proceeded to wash the dishes. I had clearly overeaten so I took a nap. Shortly after that, I was back to feeling invincible. I decided to make use of this energy so I geared up, strapped on a heart rate monitor to my chest, drank a cup of coffee as a pre-workout and took off for a mid-morning run outside with the blazing hot weather. I was still naive and ignorant back then on matters concerning running in the heat so when the run felt hard I decided to run harder. It was a daft attempt at proving to myself that ndine wo kosa. After 3 kilometers my bravado was failing me and I knew that something was very wrong. I felt like collapsing. I halted my run and belatedly decided to check my heart rate data for any correlation between what I was feeling and the heart rate readings. Hmm. It was over 200 beats per minute! How could this be? I was running at a comfortable pace...okay maybe I slightly pushed it but something was not right and such high heart rate readings were very scary. I interpreted various outcomes from heat stroke to a heart attack. I halted my run, sought shelter under a nearby tree and when I felt better proceeded to purchase water from the nearest kantemba. I drank some and bathed in the rest of it. I walked back home defeated but learnt a very important lesson which I will share with you - 'don't pick a fight with the sun, you will lose.' The combination of caffeine and running in the sun nearly killed me. I don't want other runners to make the same mistake I did. Knowledge is progress. Run smart.
Here are my top tips for running in the heat:
Pick your battles and live to run another day.
When we think of threats to a runner’s safety we’re often thinking about cars and thieves. But there is another threat that is often overlooked and that is snakes. I’ve had one or two close calls in my time spent running and I would like to share one story that scared me to death and amused me at the same time.
Here’s how it went down:
Before I had a decent amount of running and fitness knowledge I believed that running in the sun made me stronger, fitter and lose weight faster through sweat. Driven by this ignorance I went out for a midday run in the peak of the summer. As usual, it was up Great East Road running towards Chongwe. The heat was killing me but I persisted believing that I could run through this fire and not get burnt. It wasn’t long before the heat sent one slippery serpent in my direction from across the road. What I witnessed that day was shocking! We’re told that snakes slither in an S shape, correct? Flat and along the surface with the head moving from side to side, right? This snake moved the same, except it was in an inverted S shape ‘doing the worm’ with its head bobbing up and down! It hurriedly headed towards me and my side of the road. I presume this awkward and unnatural movement pattern was caused by the blazing heat and hot road surface. I only noticed the serpent one or two meters away when it sprung at my feet! At that point I jumped back and into the road and the snake proceeded into the bush to my side. I was confused, scared and amused all at the same time! Anyway, I left this episode unscathed but on another day it could’ve ended differently. I’m thankful for God’s grace and now I pay better attention to my surroundings. You should too.
My personal advice when you encounter a snake on a run:
Be safe on every run. Don’t let a snake mistake your running shoe lace for a rat’s tail.
In my running experience I've had several very uncomfortable encounters with strangers that I felt posed a threat to my well-being. Lucky for me no danger ever materialized but I don't believe that would've been the case had I not taken precautions when I sensed danger. Other threats to my personal safety came from dogs and motorists. With regards to motorists, some were drunk, some were negligent and others were just too excited to be on the road. Despite close calls, nothing serious ever occurred and I'm thankful to God for that. As they say, God helps those who help themselves and I consider taking precautions helping myself while God does the rest.
Many runners take pride in their appearance and go out equipped with fancy looking clothes and gear. An early morning runner is likely to meet with thieves on their way back from 'work'. I recall numerous incidents that involved me meeting what I felt were unscrupulous characters. Let me tell you about the time I believe instincts saved me from a trip back home naked.
This is how it went down:
I got up very early one morning fired up for a planned run. I took out my gear and flashy shoes and took off into the darkness just before dawn. It was early days in my running adventures so I didn't equip myself with accessories to enhance visibility like head torches. Basically, I couldn't see further than five meters but I persisted. It didn't take long before my instincts and the fear they triggered improved my vision dramatically. Suddenly silhouettes became more pronounced 50 meters away. Initially, I was too proud to acknowledge the fear I felt on a solo run on a narrow road with what was 5 or 6 adult males headed in my direction until it happened. I saw things unfolding ahead of me. What was initially a closely grouped together clique of individuals abruptly split in two with the other group going across the road. At this point it was clear what they were up to and my big boy pride deserted me. I stopped advancing and swiftly took off in the opposite direction. In the end, I made it back home safely with the help of adrenaline. I don't know what would've happened had I continued to run towards this clique but you know what? I wasn't willing to find out. I wasn't willing to get assaulted and find myself trekking back home naked because my flashy gear had been taken from me
Here's my advice to enhance personal security on a run:
Always trust your instincts and take all the necessary precautions before and during every run.
Woof! Woof! The sound that stops most runners dead in their tracks. Having been a runner for a sustained period I've had my fair share of rather unpleasant encounters with dogs. I will tell you about the encounter that stopped my legs and made my heart race. People living in residential areas have baffling practices. Never in my life would I have thought that my neighbor would opt to place his vicious dogs outside his gate before he goes to bed every night. We've never discussed it but maybe it was to ensure that a thief didn't get the opportunity to get close enough to scope out the place. Anyway, while I'm sure he has his reasons for operating like this, an unsuspecting 5 am runner will be breakfast for these animals. I almost became a meal myself one morning.
Let me tell you how it went down:
I went on my usual run down Great East road in the early morning and everything was just flowing; I was feeling good, running strong and I was happy to be alive. This excitement led to me extending my run and deciding to explore new routes in my neighborhood. Foolish me. I got off the highway and ran through a new street and within 100 meters I saw it. Pointy ears shot right up and then I heard it. It was unmistakable. It was "Grrrrrrrr....grrrrrrr....WOOF! WOOF!" I would've taken off had it not been for pure fear cutting off the power to my legs and paralyzing me. The dogs sensing the fear started to rapidly approach. The closer they got, the stronger my will to survive got and I decided to go out swinging! I was going to go out like a man. I made myself as wide as possible and started screaming with as much bass as I could. Perhaps I even started barking myself! I don't remember clearly. When you survive a deadly situation your memory isn't 100% accurate. I'm no psychologist but maybe the mind simply tries to preserve your dignity should you make it out alive.
Woof! Woof! A sound once they hear it tends to make some runners believe that they can outrun unfriendly canines. Don't. I didn't have this wisdom before but I do now. Stop, and don't run any further.
Here's my personal advice when faced with a woof! woof! situation on the run:
Anyway, after all that I've experienced, you couldn't pay me to run through a residential neighborhood. I just don't fancy myself as dog food.
It's simple really: I run because I really like food and alcohol. Running is my way of detoxification and keeping excess fat off my body. Well, that's the half of it. The other half is I take pride in being a recreational athlete, chasing fitness targets, developing mental resilience and molding my body into something that's visually pleasing.
With that said, every other motivation and benefit obtained from running doesn't hold a candle to the advancements made in mental resilience through running. Fitness and physical appearance are pretty standard motives but it's deeper than that if you dig a little. No other sport tests your perseverance and determination like running. When you run and things get hard there's that little voice in your head that plays tricks on you. It tells you to slow down, to quit, that it hurts and why bother with the pain and burning sensations; no one should volunteer to suffer. However, If you can overcome the desire to quit, the urge to stop, and find the determination to finish what you've started I guarantee that you can and will overcome any other obstacle in life. You won't quit. You won't slow down. Until you get what you want. That's what running can do. That's why I run...so I can finish strong in life.
Anyway, I really feel good about myself when I run...especially when I don't feel like it but get it done regardless, I'm sure you do too. There's a feeling of accomplishment there. Take it. And later you can reward yourself with a slice of pizza...or two..and a beer..or more.
Run. Eat. Drink. Repeat.
Did you win? How fast can you run (insert distance)? How far do you run? You don't look like a runner!
I initially struggled to identify as a runner because I didn't look like one, you know, skin-on-bone looking type of runner nor did I run as fast as one. I am naturally built like a tank. I embrace my genetic make-up and strive to be the best athlete I can be in my chosen sport. I get up very early in the morning and I run. Consistently. When people think of runners, they're often bench-marking against the elites. The vast majority of runners aka middle of the pack runners are largely overlooked. We're considered 'flowers' by non-runners; they think we're there for display purposes! Marathons wouldn't be the same without these people, without runners like me (and most likely you who is reading this), to pad the attendance numbers and make it a fun, social experience.
Anyway, after a substantial amount of time spent running I still don’t resemble the fitness magazine cover guys or the elite marathon runners, but I’ve managed to stay in good shape, enough to continue showing up to races better than the last time and beating the athlete I was yesterday.
If you lace up, show up and run; that makes you a runner. Own it - “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” - (Prov. 23:7)
Pro tip: If you run long enough, you’ll come across really inspiring people. Sometimes you’ll even discover that you’re one of them for someone else– especially if you’re struggling. So don’t let the fear of struggling through a run keep you from doing it. You may be just the inspiration someone else needs.