This isn’t a philosophical question, it’s a very practical one! How do you keep going when you are running? What motivates you to keep putting one foot in front of another? I confess I find this really difficult. Sometimes I’m off in my own thoughts and I realise that I have slowed down to a walk. My legs aren’t sore, I’m not that short of breath but something inside says ‘ok stop this running now and walk for a bit’ and I have to tell myself to start running again.
I know that some people like to tick off the minutes or the miles, but my attention span is too short for that (and it’s hard to read a watch without specs on) so what I have started to do is count my steps.
I count them in groups of eight, so one 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, two 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 etc until I get up to 20 then start again. Yes my attention span is so dismally short that I can struggle to keep running all the way up to 20!
I started doing this in ernest about a week ago. I estimated that when I got to 20 that would be a minute. Then I started trying to get to twenty for every finger on my hand, thinking that it would be 5 minutes. I was surprised by how many times I wanted to slow down or pause in that 5 minutes but the discipline of counting of setting that tiny goal, keeps me going. Eventually I worked out that 15 fingers is, for me at my average pace, 1 mile.
What really brought this to my attention was my new sports watch. Yes I have indulged myself, but that’s another story! I have purchased a garmin forerunner 225 which has the advantages of heart rate monitoring without a chest strap, cadence, Bluetooth connectivity with devices, but best of all, get this! Colour indicators for your heart rate zone!!!!!
???? You ask. Yes it’s perfect for doddery middle aged women, now I don’t need my glasses to look at the numbers for my heart rate, I can just see what colour it is☺️.
Anyway, it does cadence also, which means that I get an output like this:
Seriously? I asked myself. Stopping to walk every minute? Stats geek that I am counted up all those red dots and calculated stops per minute for each run for the last month. Interestingly it wasn’t related to run length, pace, elevation or heart rate. Just simple concentration and will power. Sometimes I stop nearly every minute, sometimes I average 2 minutes! I have suspected that I am the worst, slowest, laziest runner in the world and now I can see that it’s probably true! This is what happened after I started counting:
You can see where I made the effort to keep going for a mile. And do you know what? Legs were fine, lungs were fine, all in the head, well most of it, there were a couple of times where the HR nudged into the red zone and I slowed to walk.
I don’t intend to spend the rest of my life counting every step I run. However I like to think of it as a tool to motivate me to keep going, I want to keep going with it enough so that eventually it comes naturally to keep going for at least a mile! But for now counting is really good for me, it keeps me moving and gives me constant feed back to monitor progress, 3 fingers, 2 1/2 minutes, 5 fingers, third of a mile. 393 fingers, 26.2 miles 😳
Does anyone else have to work so hard to motivate themselves to run not walk?