No matter how much we enjoy running, we all have those days when we feel stuck to the couch, glance side-long at our training schedule and give a forlorn sigh at the prospect of rousing ourselves sufficiently to pull on our running shoes. And then, the moving. Ohhhh, the moving...
This is another one of those expectations games, in that we have to expect that we're going to have those days and not be caught off guard by them. When we're expecting something, we're usually better at proactively dealing with it than letting ourselves feel like a victim with no control over the situation. (Okay, that sounds a little dramatic, but I'm pretty sure the main sentiment is still true.) I know that barring an injury or illness, I'm almost guaranteed to feel better and enjoy myself once I'm running (as someone once put it, no one ever says, "Gee, I really wish I hadn't worked out today"), and the hardest part is just getting started. Here are some strategies I've developed for getting my butt off the couch and out the door on those "meh" kind of running days:
1) One step at a time. Sometimes it helps to trick myself. The emotional, irrational part of my brain says, "But I don't want to go ruuuuun....I'm comfy right heeeeere...." In response, I say, "Oh, that's okay. We're not going to run. We're just going to walk to the bedroom." And the emotional/irrational part says, "Oh, okay. That's not so bad." Then I say, "And now, we're just going to change clothes." And the emotional/irrational part says, "Oh, I don't really mind changing clothes." And then I say, "And now, we're just going to put on our running shoes." And the emotional/irrational part says, "Nothing so terrible about that." And before you know it, I'm ready to go, and all that's left is to walk out the door. This technique has worked AMAZINGLY well for me.
2) Multimedia. Sometimes reading about, watching, or listening to runners makes me want to go run. If I don't really feel like running, I'll just pull up Runner's World or Running Times and start reading some random training article or interview. A lot of the time that's enough to get me excited enough about running and whatever my goals are at the time to get up & out there.
3) Bragging rights. Believe it or not, just having my training journal online as part of this blog can sometimes be a big help. I've found that I really, really like writing about my running (it gives me an outlet & keeps me from talking the ears off my friends & loved ones about it twenty-four/seven), and any time I finish a run, I know I get to write a little blurb about it on my "Week In Review." No running = no journal blurbs, or worse, a "Week In Review" filled with lame excuses and an abysmal mileage count. Sometimes that's enough for me to go, "Are you going to be lame on the internet today, or are you going to suck it up and go run?"
4) Make a date. I haven't used this one much lately, because my schedule is often such that it's hard for me to commit to running a specific workout at a specific place and time, but I went through a period a few years back of skipping a lot of runs due to being "too busy with work" (key point: we're almost never actually too busy for something that's truly important to us). I got through it by wrangling my running co-workers and setting up a weekly schedule with a few different people. No, I didn't have a ton of time for running at that point, but doing a little running on a consistent basis beats the hell out of skipping workouts completely because you don't have time for big, long ones, and having committed to run at specific times and places with specific people kept me reasonably fit until I had time to get back to a more substantive routine. I know a lot of people who run with groups or clubs on certain days for this reason.
5) Creep on your competition. I say this jokingly; I really do. (Ok, sort of.) Especially if I'm training for something I care about a lot, I can motivate myself to get out there by pulling up the most recent "Results" page for the race I'm targeting and picking out one or two people in my age/gender group whose times were right around what I'm shooting for (or think I could beat). Then I'll be like, "You're not going to let them BEAT you are you? ARE YOU??" (I may have mentioned the competitive streak before...). In response, the other part of me will often be like, "No, Virginia*. Not today. Not today." And then I'm off.
*I have no idea who Virginia is.
6) Act like a runner. One great truth I've learned during my adult life is that if you want to BE something or someone, you have to start by ACTING like that thing or person. Sometimes if I'm not feeling motivated, I remind myself that by definition, runners run, even when they don't feel like it, even when they're busy, even when it's not convenient. If I want to call myself a runner, I reason, I have to be willing to make running happen when it needs to, and not only when I'm feeling strong and energetic and like I have all the time in the world.
So there you go -- my top tips for getting out the door when I'm not really feeling it. Happy running! :)