Friday 15 December 2017

Running: Change of scenery will keep you motivated

Gerry Duffy

As I write this, the sun is pouring natural heat into my living room though a large bay window. Thankfully, some of whatever summer we are likely to get has arrived. With that comes the feel-good factor, with people clamouring to get home early to head back out for a bit of exercise. In a recent article, I shared the three reasons why I run – for fitness, for fun and for business. For sure, I am more productive at work after an early morning run.

Often I get asked how I stay motivated to want to do so much running. It's a combination of things. One of the main reasons is that I mix up my running routes. At the last count I had devised two dozen options, all within a 10-minute drive of my house. Perhaps I am lucky. I live near a cross-country running course (Belvedere House in Mullingar). It has a flowing and hilly 2k of soft terrain which most people run anti-clockwise, but it can be done in reverse. It also has an extra 300m gravel trail that offers more options.

In addition to Belvedere, there is an abundance of trails and quiet country roads nearby. We have the Royal Canal running through Mullingar. Its two directions and many access points offer perhaps a dozen options alone.

A friend stopped me in the street recently and told me that five mornings a week she is out running before the milkman has made his porridge. Running is something that is part of who she is and is a vital contributor to her well-being. Recently, though, she was losing interest and was seeking help in a diagnosis. Put simply, she was bored.

She had already left some clues in her early conversation when I had asked her where she ran. Given her strict time allowance before her husband and kids wake up, she was confined to beginning and ending her run at her front door. Which direction do you go? I asked. "I always go in such and such and in a big circle," she said.

"Why not do it in reverse?" I suggested. "The new direction might help lift your motivation."

"I hadn't thought of that," she said, and with that she went away, determined to try this out as a possible piece of a jigsaw puzzle to reignite her enthusiasm. Her parting shot was that there was a large field behind her house that she was also going to test as another option.

It was Einstein who said: "If we keep doing what we are doing, we will keep getting what we are getting." If I ever lose motivation, I simply go to a favoured running route that I might not have visited in months.

I am already thinking about the Dublin City Marathon in October. One strategy I enjoyed last year was to come up with five or six options for my long run. It worked a treat and ensured my motivation stayed strong.

If we are honest, perhaps we all have half-a-dozen or more options at our disposal. That field I run in, those quiet country roads or the canal banks could be one of the hundreds of river routes or trails scattered across this island.

Good luck finding some exciting new ones in your area.

Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete.

Irish Independent

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