Monday, September 14, 2015

Finding Inspiration

I see on the Twit-o-verse (is that a thing?) quite a few times of people in a slump and looking for inspiration. I thought it may be good to compile a by no mean exhaustive list of potential inspiration points. Hopefully this will help someone get their running mojo back!

Variety is the spice of life
I think I have one of the best standard running routes - the Thames. I feel like I know the section between Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge like the back of my shoe. That being said, even I get bored of it sometimes!

I try and have my LSR (long slow runs) in a different location/route. Living where I am I am pretty spoilt for choice. MapMyRun has a route genius that you can use to find new runs in the area, or you can plot out your own with their online tool. Or if visiting somewhere completely new, Google and Twitter are your friends!

The point of this is to get a change of scenery. If you are typically a city runner, try a route in the countryside or vice versa. Try a different neighbourhood. Keeping your eyes stimulated will keep your feet moving, and you will be looking forward to what's over the next hill/bend :)

Moose recommends for Londoners:  Limehouse Cut Canal, Regents Canal, any part of the Thames Path (if you hate crowds, avoid Southbank unless its very early), South Downs/Box Hill

Hills/Track Repeats
Speaking of hills (*groan*) yes, yes I know many people hate them. To be honest though they keep a route interesting and typically give you a nice reward when you hit the top (a view!). I like the idea of meeting someone at the top of a hill with a nice picnic as a post-run reward (only after you go up and down a few times of course!).

Along those lines, track repeats, though they sound boring, keep you on a pace for a certain duration of time, typically outside of your comfort running zone. This is how strength and endurance is built. Think of it as a challenge! You do not have to do it on a track, but it makes its a lot easier for figuring distance. I find the best time to do this is when its horrible weather out and you are stuck in the gym.

Moose recommends for Londoners:  Primrose Hill, Greenwich, Epping Forest (not too crazy hills, but nice undulating ones), Richmond Park

I know some races you cannot use headphones, but in training music can really help in squeezing out the last ounce of strength in a run. Nike+ had (and probably still has) a 'PowerTrack' you could automatically queue up if in a slump. Having a driving baseline can get your pace in the right place. The Spotify Running program determine the BPM based on your pace (think it only records it at the beginning though so from that point on its a constant). Be sure to add/remove tracks so to keep things interesting!

Moose recommends (for kick it up a notch running): 'London Can Take It' by Public Service Broadcasting, 'Call on Me' by Eric Prydz, 'My Generation' by Limp Bizkit, 'Bangarang' by Skrillex, 'Dyers Eve' by Metallica

There are probably quite a few different running podcasts out there but its amazing how just hearing/reading about other people running can influence you! Running websites and magazines help you keep up to date on upcoming events, and can include very good race reports, which is important if you are on the limb about signing up. is just one example of a 'race report' website. Podcasts help you realise that there are so many others out there like you with running gripes and fears-- and hearing them discussed is a relief!

Moose recommends: MarathonTalk podcast. A weekly podcast by two runners talking about running news, events, and interviews. Not being a marathoner myself (yet) I feel a bit cheeky, but I have gotten so much inspiration listening to these guys and the people they interview-- you just want to get out and run!

Group/Solo Running
The point of this is to try the opposite of what you normally do. Either one can sound daunting, but just give it a shot and you may be amazed at how much more you enjoy running. I know this is something I need to work on, as I am a solo runner and want to try and do more group runs. My reason (excuse?) is that I like to run on my own schedule, but I know if i find a group I really like it will become part of my schedule.  I also have no excuse for different days as I have three different runs clubs operating almost every day of the week near me. Time to nut up or shut up :)

Other Runners (normal to extraordinary)
Everyone runs for a reason. Many of these people blog about this, and many are doing some pretty inspirational goals for a great cause. On Twitter this is very prevalent. It is amazing to read of the trials and tribulations that led people to the runs they are doing-- its a selfless thing. Maybe you can gain motivation from them and donate or you can research a charity you are passionate about and race under their banner. Either way your soul will feel much better!

There are also what I call 'extreme runners', or people doing some crazy things that most of us would consider 'a bit off the deep end' but actually have a sense of utmost respect for what they are doing. They are all over the charts: 52 marathons in 52 weeks, 10 marathons in 10 days, running 18000 km from Canada to Buenos Aires, running the South West Coastal Path... (the last two I heard about on the MarathonTalk podcast)

If they can do it-- surely you can fit a run into your day?

Take a Break
It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes you need a break to re-assess why you want to run in the first place. The break could a day, a week, or a month. You can also cut back on running and try a different activity. Boxercise, swimming, cycling-- mixing it up in your exercise routine can give you that extra push in your running.

Ultimately, you are responsible for you. If you are unhappy with how you look, how you feel, your mentality... YOU need to change something in your life. Your partner can't do it for you, nor can your parents or pets (although they certainly can help!). If running was easy, we would all be Paula Radcliffe's or Mo Farah's. The only way to improve is to change your self, understand your weaknesses, and work to improve them.

Moose says: You never regret going for a run, you always regret when you don't