We know that the last few weeks have been a strange and trying time for everyone in the U.S. and globally. And with major races and events canceled or postponed we wanted to ask an expert on how to stay motivated during times of stress and chaos. Heather Stephens, our guest blogger this week, is a life long runner, running coach, and co-founder of Rad Running, a personalized online run coaching service. We hope you can use some of her tips and tricks to stay inspired and motivated even when nothing is going according to plan.
How to Stay Motivated Right Now by Heather Stephens
As races and other events continue to be postponed or canceled, you might be wondering how to best maintain your mental and physical well-being.
I work with athletes around the country via my online coaching platform Rad Running. This week, after races had been canceled and postponed, I started receiving phone calls and texts from athletes saying they were feeling defeated and ready to hit pause on their training. Others were flooded with feelings of anxiety and stress as our country began shutting down international travel, schools, bars, cafés, restaurants, and more. Slowly our worlds have started to feel smaller and smaller.
I had many similar conversations with all of the runners I coach this week, so I thought I would lay the conversation out in a blog. How to best cope with uncertainty, anxiety, and the land of unknown that we’re all currently navigating.
*Please note, I am not a medical professional. I do not have all the answers to all of life’s great questions. These are simply guidelines that are helping the runners I coach (any myself) stay mentally and physically strong right now.*
Now let’s dive in!
Embrace change, recalibrate, and give yourself some grace.
Life is perpetually in a state of movement and change. As humans, we like things to stay the same. When a race is canceled that we’ve been training for, everything can feel like it’s been turned on its head. I heard a lot of “what’s-the-point’s?” and “why bother’s?” this week.
Well the point is simple, really - running is what you do. It’s in your blood, it’s in your bones. It’s the thing that makes you, you. If you achieve your big goal of running the Boston Marathon, do you cross the finish line, hang up your trainers and never hit the pavement ever again? Doubtful.
You take a break. Recalibrate. Lace up for some easy miles. And slowly, the next goal begins to take shape as you breathe in and out and put one foot in front of the other.
As you move through the cycle of pausing and recalibrating, try lacing up those trainers and making time in your life for some easy miles. Studies show that 20 minutes of any aerobic exercise per day reduces negative mental energy and can make a significant impact on your mood. Running helps eliminate those swirling anxiety thoughts and create space for more rational and grounded thoughts.
Set a new goal.
If you’re anything like me, having a race to train for helps you get out the door to run. I’ve never been interested in entering a virtual race, but after a week of embracing change and recalibrating, the idea began to sound more and more appealing.
My company, Rad Running, teamed up with our friends at Sound Running and came up with a virtual race called The Social Distance 5k & 13.1. When you register you’ll receive a race t-shirt, a training plan (8 or 12 weeks), and a portion of your entry fee goes to the COVID-19 Response Fund.
If you’re wondering how does a virtual race even work? You’ll start by registering here ($40 for the 5k and $60 for the half marathon), and then you’ll choose your very own starting line whether it's a treadmill or a neighborhood street. You’ll race the distance on June 27th and wear a GPS or upload your finishing time to join the virtual race leaderboard. Surprise age group awards from some rad brands!
If a virtual race isn’t for you, no problem. Take some time to consider what a new goal could look like for you. Here are some ideas to get the wheels turning.
- Run 5 days a week, 20 minutes per run.
- Commit to 15 minutes of daily core and strength work; you know the portion of your training you’ve been putting off forever. Now’s the time to get strong.
- Start a run streak; running a minimum of 1 mile per day.
- Swap every other day of yoga then running.
Sky’s the limit on what your goal could look like but don’t underestimate the importance of having one. Remember you’re a runner, goal setting is in your DNA.
Dial in your new routine.
If working from home is your new normal; it’s probably not feeling very normal yet. On one hand, it feels a lot like freedom. On the other hand, it feels like too much freedom.
While the temptation to press snooze on your morning alarm is at an all time high — Resist! Resist! Resist!
As you begin to establish your new normal and routine, a healthy habit is to write down what tomorrow is going to look like at the end of each day.
Here’s my Tomorrow Planning to give you an idea:
7:00am: Wake up for 10 minutes of meditation.
7:30am: Coffee, breakfast, let the dog out.
8:00am: Morning pages. 10 minutes of unfiltered writing to get the creativity flowing.
8:30am: Answer emails and write down a to-do list for work day.
12:00pm: Work through the to do list.
4:00pm: An hour of learning something new.
5:00pm: House Party (app) happy hour with friends/ family.
7:00pm-on: Self-care; yoga, read, watch TV (not the news), unwind.
Writing this out might seem completely unnecessary and ridiculous, but studies show that it takes two weeks to form a new habit. If you’re working from home and you’re not used to doing that, you’re likely introducing many new habits into your life all at once. Writing down what your new routine looks like will help hold you accountable to it. Try doing this for a week and see how you feel.
Make time for self care.
What is this self care stuff that everyone bangs on about? Well, it can be a lot of different things. For starters, it can be as simple as turning off all notifications, shutting off social media, and turning off the TV for an hour. Limiting your inputs is key!
While staying up to date with developing information is important, there is a lot of fear based click bait across media channels right now. Having too many inputs can put you into a state of paralysis. Resist falling into the trap.
For some, running and working out is great self care. Here are some other ideas to help you take care of yourself:
- 10 minutes of meditation.
- 10 minutes of morning pages or journaling.
- 20 minutes of yoga (highly recommend virtual: Athletes For Yoga).
- Take a bath.
- Try a face mask.
- Legs up the wall.
- Roll out and stretch.
- Read a book.
- Play with a dog.
- Play with a cat.
- The list goes on… Just remember to take time for YOU.
Connect with your people.
During a quarantine it is easy to feel isolated. Make time to connect with your people. A simple (non-COVID-19) text, or 5 minute phone call can make all the difference in the world. If you think you’re feeling alone, someone else is too.
Test out the app House Party to keep up with your friends via group video chat. Or watch a movie with your crew using Netflix Party. This Chrome extension allows you and your friends to remotely watch Netflix together.
Stay accountable to your goals and your routine.
Connect with a friend. Write in a journal. Hire a coach. Share your goals and intentions on social media. Whatever it takes. Make sure that your goal lives outside your mind.
We’re giving $50 off your first month of personalized coaching at Rad Running if you want to test out working with a coach and practice staying accountable to your goals. Enter RUNNINGISRAD in the discount code section here.
If we are all willing to embrace change and stabilize our lives with new goals and new routines, we might just find some space for creativity, innovation, new ideas, and new ways of doing life. Heck, we might come out of this whole thing (physically and mentally) stronger than ever.
We’re in it together. We got this, rad humans!