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Running Motivation

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Has a sudden decrease in athletic performance, lack of endurance, and slower times left you concerned about your running?

We all have our days where we simply just feel slow and can’t even think about running at the pace we normally do run at… If these types of days are occurring more and more and closer together then it might be time to get to the bottom of it and find out what is really going on and if it’s a cause for concern.

Let’s have a look at what could be some of the causes of your drop in running performance and loss of endurance. There are a few common ones…

What’s Behind Your Sudden Decrease In Athletic Performance

There are actually quite a few things that could be at play that are causing your sudden drop in running pace and loss of stamina.

Stamina: the ability to sustain prolonged physical effort.

Age is of course one of the things that can cause us to recover slower and to get more tired and therefore to run slower times.

Pros & Cons Of Running After 50 – What You NEED To Know

If you are a female, one of the things that you are more susceptible to (more than males), even though it’s not exclusive to females, is having low iron levels.

I would definitely advise checking whether you have low iron or low ferritin levels.

Another cause for a sudden decrease in athletic performance could be overtraining.

In terms of blood tests, doctors can look at things like Creatine Kinase or other inflammatory markers in the blood.

Then of course, even if you are showing no obvious symptoms of illness, there are various illnesses that are relatively asymptomatic that can cause a sudden decrease in athletic performance and loss of stamina.

Fatigue and slowing down are big symptoms, so even though you are asymptomatic at rest, they may be affecting you during exercise.

What To Do If You Have Lost Your Running Stamina

Rest!

Taking some time off from training and just resting could also arrest the sudden decrease in athletic performance.

I would suggest taking a few days off with no running at all. 72 hours of good, solid rest.

Then at least a week of very easy, short runs and if there isn’t a significant improvement in your athletic performance, then you do need to start looking at things like iron levels in your blood.

It may also then be worthwhile having a look at thyroid function.

If the rest doesn’t work then I would suggest a consultation with a sports physician because there are a number of factors that can cause this sudden decrease in athletic performance.

10 Reasons Why Your Running Performance Has Dropped

  • Overtraining
  • Not eating enough nutritional meals
  • Not recovering correctly
  • Under or over-hydrating
  • Only running. (Your training should include mobility work, strength training, and cross training)
  • Not running long runs.
  • You’re not getting enough quality sleep
  • You’re aging
  • Not enough pace variety – running too hard all the time.
  • You may be experiencing a lot of stress.

This Is By Far The Easiest Way To Improve Your Running!

Not even that long ago… depending on how old you are it could have even been in your lifetime… Running was a sport for men only. 

Through historical events, female participation in running grew more and more. 

There are women whose names we should not forget, women who shaped the history of running for all females to follow. 

Let’s cover some of the remarkable moments of female running history that made the sport what it is today.

The Rules Regarding Women In Running Races

In the late 1960s, there was a massive movement, of American women demanding equal rights.

This ignited a small group of women that began fighting for the right to run!

Women were forbidden to compete in the Olympic Games in ancient Greece.

Even worse, married women were forbidden from spectating at any athletic events under the penalty of death!

Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic Games in 1896 which started in Athens, in the first several games women were not allowed to compete in track and field events.

We then thought things were taking a turn for the positive…

In 1928, at the Olympic games held in Amsterdam, women were allowed to compete in running events for the first time!

But after the 800-meter event, The International Olympic Committee ruled that the collapse of a woman at the finish line meant that the distance was too difficult for the female body and banned the event. (Although years later, the film showed that the woman who collapsed was up on her feet in only 3.2 seconds)

Women had to wait until the 1960 games to compete again.

The fact of the matter was that even into the 1970s women were still being taught that running was a man’s sport. 

The Fight For The Women’s Race

In the 1970s, the Olympic Marathon was a lot more established, yet…  Women were still not allowed to compete and the struggle to establish a women’s Olympic Marathon was immense!

In the Moscow Games, the longest race for women was the 1,500 meters, which had been instituted in 1972.

March of 1896, Stamatis Rovithi became the first woman to run a marathon (the day after the (men-only) marathon).

The following month, a woman named Melpomene presented herself as an entrant in the Olympic Marathon. Race organizers denied her the opportunity to compete. 

Melpomene didn’t let that stop her, she warmed up for the race out of sight. 

When the starter’s gun sounded, she began to run along the side of the course, after a while she fell behind the men but persevered. She soon began passing men who had dropped out due to exhaustion.

Melpomene arrived at the stadium an hour and a half after the winner.

At this point the stadium was empty yet she was still banned from entering and had to run her final lap outside the building, finishing the marathon in about four and a half hours.

It would be nearly a century before another woman would run the Olympic Marathon…

Key Dates In The History Of Women’s Running.

776 BC 

In ancient Greece, young women took part in the Heraean Games – footraces to honor the Greek goddess Hera.

1896 

Stamata Revithi runs the marathon course of the first modern Olympic Games.

1922 

The first Women’s World Games (the first track and field competition for women) were held in Paris.

1923

The first woman to finish Comrades in an unofficial run: Frances Hayward.

It was the third running of the Comrades Marathon ever. She took 11:35:28 seconds to do the distance and she managed an unofficial 28th position of the 30 male finishers.

1926

Violet Piercy from London became the first woman to run a marathon recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations, finishing in 3:40:22.

1928 

The Olympic Games opens five track and field events for women. The IOC banned women from running more than 200m.

1954 

Diane Leather from Staffordshire became the first woman to run a mile in under five minutes. (4:59.23)

1960 

Huge breakthrough! The first year in history that women were allowed to participate in five running events in the Summer Olympics. 

Including the 800-meter race!

1967

Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and gained an official bib registered under K.V. Switzer. 

It is well remembered that race official Jock Semple tried to stop her while running the marathon, but was blocked by her boyfriend. 

She finished the race in 4:20. Afterwards she was banned.

1972

Another huge breakthrough!
The AAU allowed women to register for marathons. But…  they had to start at a separate time and even a separate starting line.

Women protested against this at the New York City Marathon by sitting at the starting line as the gun went off.

1975 

Women were officially allowed to run The Comrades Marathon.

Elizabeth Cavanagh finished in 10:08:00 and goes down in the record books as the first official female Comrades winner.

1977 & 1978

A major step forward in women’s running gear!

The first sports bra was made as well as the first women-specific running shoes designed by Nike. 

1979 

Norwegian Grete Waitz became the first woman to run a sub-2:30 marathon, winning her second New York City Marathon in 2:27:33.

1980 

Mary Decker from America became the first woman to run a mile in under 4:20, running 4:17.55.

1984

The first women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles. 

Joan Benoit became the first woman to win gold in the event.

2002

Pam Reed becomes the first woman to win the Badwater Ultramarathon

In the same year, Rosie Swale-Pope from the UK became the first woman to ‘run around the world’ in 5 years.

2003 

Paula Radcliffe ran the London Marathon at 2:15:25, setting a world record.

2007

Paula Radcliffe became an inspiration to mothers around the world when she ran and won the New York City Marathon just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter. 

2012

Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila, and Kara Goucher won with record times 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.

The same year at the London Olympic Games, a young girl f only 19 years old named Sarah Attar became the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in an Olympic track and field event.

2014 

Jo Pavey became the oldest female European champion by winning the 10,000m at the European Championships. (40 years and 325 days old)

2015

Caroline Wöstmann became the first South African woman to win Comrades in the 20th century!

She also went on to become a doubleTwo Oceans winner for 2015 & 2016.

2017 

Maria Lorena Ramírez from the Tarahumara community wone the 2017 Ultra Trail Cerro Rojo Ultramarathon wearing sandals and a skirt.

The same year Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the NYC Marathon since 1977 (2:26:53).

2019 

Sifan Hassan broke the women’s mile world record (4:12.33) at the Monaco Diamond League.

Brigid Kosgei from Kenya broke the women’s marathon world record by 81 seconds!
She won the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04.

The same year Gerda Steyn broke the Comrades up-run record with a time of 5:58:53, becoming the first woman to complete the up-run in under six hours.

2022

Gerda Steyn set a new women’s record in the Two Oceans Marathon with a time of 3:29:42, and became the first athlete in 22 years to win three consecutive titles.

When Running Became Popular For Women

Although running has no age or gender restrictions, it inspiringly developed into a popular woman’s sport over the past 40 years.

  • Women and girls made up 57% of the 17 million U.S. race finishers in 2015.
  • Women’s participation in the New Your Marathon began to grow, and in the 1979 New York City Marathon, 1,203 of the 10,477 finishers were women—nearly 12 percent of the field. 

The growth continued steadily, and by 2019, about 42 percent of the 53,640 finishers of the TCS New York City Marathon were women!

In 2021, women made up about half of all finishers of NYRR races at all distances; for finishers ages 18–39, close to 60 percent are women.

  • In 2021 23% of ultra runners were women, compared to 14% 23 years ago.

As a female runner, it is liberating to see the massive strides women have taken throughout history to make running become “our” sport!

Have you ever gotten hyped up to head out for a run, only to look outside and see the sky turning grey and the clouds rolling in?

So, you turn to the dreaded treadmill… or should I say dreadmill? 

Rain doesn’t mean you have to take your runs inside. If you’re preparing for a race, running in the rain is good because most races aren’t canceled due to rain. There are ways to make your runs in the rain safer and more comfortable.

Let’s face it…doing 5km in waterlogged clothes, soggy shoes & socks, and chafing, doesn’t sound like the most enjoyable time. 

What if we told you that running in the rain is good for you?

Why Running In The Rain Is Good For You

Running in the rain is a completely different experience — it’s something new, and it’s exciting. You have nothing to be afraid of…with a little preparedness, you’ll find that you may end up with a smile on your face at the sight of raindrops. 

Running In The Rain Could: 

Help You Run Faster

We all already know that running in cooler weather is easier than running in the heat. Did you know that you’re less likely to get dehydrated or to experience issues like muscle cramps and heatstroke? 

Think about it, when your body isn’t constantly trying to cool itself down, what is it doing?  

Answer: Focusing on performance. 

Help You Lose Weight

According to this study published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, regular exposure to mild cold may be a healthy and sustainable way to help people lose weight. 

This is because your body has to work harder to stay warm, so you end up increasing your metabolic rate after a period of adaptation, and therefore burning more fat during exercise.

Help You Deal With Adversity

Our daily lives aren’t always filled with rainbows and sunshine… 

Heading out for a run in the rain will challenge you to let go of the factors that you can’t control. You can apply that feeling to your daily life when you feel stressed and out of control. 

Help Boost Your Confidence. 

The power, the happiness of returning home after a rainy run boosts morale. – This feeling can’t be explained, only felt for yourself. 

Running in the rain releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body.

Help To Relieve Stress

Running in the rain is a serious head clearer. Running in a light gentle rain shower will make you feel like an absolute zen master. 

By taking in your surroundings and feeling the rain on your skin you’ll be sure to take your mind off of whatever it is that is causing you stress. 

Now that you know there are benefits to getting out there come rain or shine, it’s important to note that you should refrain from running in dangerous conditions like thunderstorms or hail storms. You should also avoid the HEAVY downpours as you could be putting yourself at a higher risk of injury. 

Running Safely In The Rain

  1. Don’t run in thunderstorms.
  2. Wear a hat with a brim to keep the rain off your face.
  3. Dress in layers. (Inner- technical fabric to keep water off your skin) (Outer- wind/water resistant)
  4. Dress for the temperature.
  5. Prevent chafing.
  6. Wear the right shoes. (Trail run- nonwaterproof) (Road run- waterproof)
  7. Wear bright colors to be visible.
  8. Watch your step.
  9. Warm-up properly, especially if it’s cold outside.

Warm-up properly by doing this before every run:

Once you begin running and warm up, you may find that you embrace your inner child and splash your way through the puddles, while feeling like a total badass. 

It’s worth mentioning that while there is much anecdotal evidence there are no hard facts proving that everyone will feel the same about running in the rain.

How to Embrace Your Inner Child & Enjoy Running In The Rain

Reduce Any Squelches With The Right Socks

Yes, those funky, multi-color socks that you bought in an 8 pack from your local go-to store are super affordable and comfortable… but this is the time to take out those heavy-duty, hardcore socks. 

You should look for a pair of socks with Merino wool, it is a fiber you can wear year-round because of its ability to regulate temperature, move moisture, and resist odors.

Avoid Cotton

Cotton absorbs water, which means that when you step out into the rain, your cotton pieces of clothing will hold onto the water, which will leave you feeling rather…soggy. 

We’ll dive into a bit more detail later on about the best types of clothing you should wear while running in the rain. 

You Are Going To Get Wet, Embrace It!

When it’s raining and you step outside, you ARE going to get wet.

Think of it this way…

“Running in the rain is exercise, therapy, and a shower… all at the same time.”

Enjoy it!

Wear a Cap, Always

Wearing a cap is a good idea whether it’s sunny or raining. Yes, the cap won’t keep your head dry, but it will keep some of the rain out of your eyes, making it easier to see. 

Waterproof Shoes – Not a Necessity.

If you’re heading out for a run on the road then a waterproof shoe will go a long way in keeping your feet dry but on a trail run you’re probably going to come upon big puddles and those might be unavoidable… which means you’ll allow the water in, with no escape route out. 

When running in the rain your risk of slipping and falling is increased, so be extra cautious with every step you take. 

Prevent Chafing

Anyone who has experienced any chafing in their running careers knows that it very well could be one of the most unfair and horrible experiences known to man!

You motivated yourself to lace up your running shoes and hit the road, only to receive a lovely reward at the end of it all… raw, burning flesh…. Fantastic. 

Apply Petroleum jelly products like Vaseline to areas where you are prone to chafing as well as where your socks end by your ankles, by your armpits, thighs, and groin. 

The hardest part of running in the rain is just stepping outside.

Once prepared there really isn’t much else for you to do other than to just jump out there and do it. 

Dressing For a Run In The Rain

You should dress in layers (based on the current temperature), the layers need to be light and moisture repellant to easily control your body temperature.

Layers:

One- Something to keep moisture off of your skin, such as a long sleeve shirt. 

Two- T-shirt

Three- A waterproof and wind-breaking jacket. 

It’s also a good idea to wear running shoes that have good traction to help prevent any slips and slides on the run. 

Running in the rain can make you a more resilient runner, just remember to remove any wet clothing as soon as you get home to prevent getting sick and avoid dangerous weather like thunder/lightning storms, hail, and gale-force winds. 

If you enjoyed this article, chances are quite high that you might enjoy this video where Brad and Lindsey chat about how climatic conditions, such as heat, cold, or humidity affect your training… check it out. 

Running alone is the toughest. You get to the point where you have to keep pushing yourself.”

Walter Payton

Studies have found that competition allows you to go faster and that we intuitively understand that the presence of competitors and crowds allows us to push harder.
Finding the motivation to run alone is challenging because there is no one by your side in the hurt box with you. 

You’re standing somewhere in a crowd of about 600 participants, there’s a consistent buzzing sound of excitement, everyone’s keeping warm by jumping up and down and stretching on the spot. The crowds are cheering, the nerves have kicked in, your heart is already racing. Sensory overload. You feel ready, and finally, you’re off…with the other 600 competitors.

Or…

You’ve arranged to meet with 6 mates from your local running club this afternoon to smash a 15km (as you’ve all entered the same half marathon in 2 weeks’ time) and then grab some dinner after at the local favorite spot. 

Now, compare that to…

You’ve just gotten home from work or it’s a Saturday morning and you’re heading out for 15km, you’ve put your running shoes on, locked the house, closed the garage, waved goodbye to the dog’s and you’re off…alone.

Some people like to run alone and leave everyone behind and just be in their own thoughts… but a lot of people would agree that the running alone scenario sounds like the absolute worst compared to the first two. 

But what does that mean?

Why Is Running Alone So Hard?

In a recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, affective feelings and how they may alter performance in either a solo time trial effort or an effort run with others is looked at.

Conducted by researchers in São Paolo, 14 runners completed a pair of 10km efforts, one alone on a track, and the other (a week later) competing against the other participants of the study. 

Group results: 39:32 group effort vs 40:28 solo effort.

From the results, we can surmise that running alone is hard for some runners because they don’t feel as motivated as they might feel if they were running in a group or even with just one other person. Some people are internally motivated (internal drive) and some are externally motivated (other people, competition, races, etc).

Why We Love Running With People:

  • Running with other people makes you feel accountable, so you are less likely to skip out on training sessions.  
  • Running with a group is a great way to learn tips on technique or pacing which helps you become a better runner.
  • Running groups usually have a great social side which is very important during training. You will make friends with people who have a lot in common with you. 
  • Running in a group provides peace of mind when it comes to safety and injuries. 

Some runners thrive on the sense of freedom of running alone, but many struggle to maintain motivation. So that begs the question…

How To Stay Motivated While Running On Your Own

Solo runs can seem monotonous. 

It’s important to remember that a run is only as boring or as fun as you make it. It’s up to you whether you want to mentally zone out or to take it all in.

Solo runs often make us think… Why are we even doing this? 

The fact that you’re out running means that you are improving your mood. That’s already something to motivate you… So enjoy the scenery, and list the reasons why you began running in the first place… the physical health benefits, the mental health benefits, and just the fact that no matter how hard the run was that day, you always feel good, and have a smile on your face. 

Just because you’re running alone doesn’t mean you need to stop following goals. 

Set some personal goals: running a certain amount of hours each week, or training on certain routes each day.  Having a short terms goals are what will keep you motivated for longer periods of time.

For a lot of people, their favorite part of running is the social aspect…

Just because you’re running alone doesn’t mean the social side of running has to go away, there are loads of apps out there that allow you to share your progress, connect with other runners and enter virtual challenges. 

The Coach Parry community is an incredible example of how people all around the world can communicate, help and learn from each other by sharing their success stories and progress via messages and images.  It’s like a virtual ‘locker room’.

10 Tips to Enjoy Solo Running

  1. Positive Self-Talk
  2. Focus On Pace & Effort
  3. Set Small Goals
  4. Tell Someone Where & When You’re Going
  5. Listen To Something Uplifting or Unplug
  6. Follow a Training Program
  7. Share Your Progress Online
  8. Get Competitive
  9. Endorphin Energy
  10. Feel The Sunshine On Your Face

Positive Self-Talk

You may find that you benefit hugely from encouraging conversations when running with friends… Well, why not try encouraging and uplifting yourself?

Setting a mantra or telling yourself how strong you are for example, is only going to make you feel positive about what you are doing and about your efforts.

Some athletes even write a word or their mantra on their arm so when they look down they are reminded of it.

Focus On Pace & Effort

By running alone you provide yourself with the opportunity to really focus on your pace and effort, try tuning in with your body and listen to how it is feeling when you adjust your runs in certain ways. 

Set Small Goals

If you set short-term goals that are regularly attainable, you’ll be far more likely to stay motivated over time. 

Short-term goals minimize procrastination, allowing you to focus on one thing at a time.

Tell Someone Where & When You’re Going

A lot of solo runners worry about running safety. When you run in a group you automatically feel safer. You know that if you fall and injure yourself, someone will help you, if you feel uncomfortable running past a certain area or if you just feel unsafe… It’s always comforting knowing there is more than one of you. 

You can feel a very similar level of comfort running alone too. Before you head out for a run tell a friend or family member where you are going to run and how far you plan to run. That way they can check in with you and you can let them know when you have returned safely. 

A good idea is to also use things like the Apple ‘find my phone feature’. You could do this with your group of friends to check on each other.

Listen To Something Uplifting or Unplug

If your days are filled with work, kids, chores, or absolutely anything that makes you want to escape for a short while… Then now is the perfect moment. 

This is your moment of solitude, listen to whatever you want in your headphones, whether it be a podcast or your favorite playlist. Or simply spend this time unplugged and organizing those chaotic files in your mind. 

Follow a Training Program

By following a training program you are able to challenge your body consistently in the correct ways to meet your goals.  By sticking to the program you will witness your body adapting & changing to improve your fitness. 

Coach Parry offers a variety of custom training programs for experienced to novice runners as well as one-on-one coach calls and feedback to help you achieve your running goals. Check it out.

Share Your Progress Online

Just because you can’t actually get together with your friends for whatever reason, whether it be distance or unavailability. It doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate your accomplishments or question your struggles with them.

Share it all online via social media and community forums, that way you’ll feel motivated, you may make new friends and you may receive helpful advice and praise for your accomplishments. – Which is never a bad thing. 

Just don’t let the pressure from Social Media force you to do more when you should be listening to your body and recovering!

Get Competitive

People who compete against themselves are more successful than those who compete against others because they understand that winning is more than just a competition.

Beat yourself, whether it’s day to day or week to week. There is no better satisfaction than looking back and seeing your own improvement. 

Endorphin Energy

One way to ensure that you continue to feel motivated to run solo is to really embrace that “runners high” feeling at the end of each run. You deserve to enjoy that feeling of pure positivity and euphoria. 

Feel The Sunshine On Your Face

Last but not least… and yes, I know this sounds like some sort of Alanis Morrisette song,  but running is actually an amazing way to get the sunlight needed to boost serotonin levels. 

This helps to put you in a good mood while reducing depression and anxiety.

This may sound weird… but there have been studies that show if you smile while running, your perceived effort is less… So it may look crazy to other people but smiling while running on your own may help :).

This brings us to our next point…

The Benefits Of Running Alone

  • Develops your mental strength.
  • Provides alone time.
  • Helps develop internal pacing.
  • Boosts your confidence.
  • It will prepare you for racing alone.
  • You’re less likely to push yourself through an injury.
  • You’ll become more disciplined.

Running alone is hard for a lot of people – there’s no sugar-coating it.

Have a look at this video where Lindsey Parry shares some great advice on how to stay motivated to train when you have no one to run with.