Breaking barriers: How to get motivated for your best run

Everything hurts, you’re not enjoying yourself and are convinced someone’s put weights in your shoes. So how do you break through these physical and mental barriers? Check out our tips below!

Put on a playlist

Running to music helps boost energy and can make your run fly by. It has a powerful impact on mood, signalling the brain to release feel-good and energy-boosting chemicals. Music has been shown to benefit a range of people with varying levels of health.

One recent study tested the effects of music on people suffering diabetes and high blood pressure who were undergoing cardiac stress tests. These tests involved running or walking on a treadmill with the speed and incline increasing every three minutes. The patients in the study who had music to listen to lasted nearly a minute longer than those who ran or walked in silence.

“Our findings reinforce the idea that upbeat music has a synergistic effect in terms of making you want to exercise longer” said the study’s lead author Waseem Shami.

Meanwhile, cardiac patients from a rehab unit in Toronto did an incredible 105 minutes more exercise per week than patients who didn’t use music.

Get full of beans

It’s been well documented that drinking coffee encourages your body to switch from burning glycogen to fat reserves, this means you can run further and faster and muscles don’t get tired so quickly.

And, according to a study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, coffee also appears to be effective in reducing pain. The theory is based on caffeine binding to adenosine receptors in the brain which are also involved in processing pain and improving mood.

It’s the core that matters

It’s hard to think of any sports where having a strong core isn’t of benefit. Put simply, it helps with stability, balance, control and posture. At the end of a race, when you’re exhausted, core strength will help stop you slumping, losing coordination and quitting.

Core exercises can be done anywhere at any time and you need to focus on your stomach, back and hips.

Core examples to try:

  • Side and front planks: maintain a position similar to a front or side push-up for the maximum possible time.
  • Bridges: lie on your back and raise and lower your glutes slowly and steadily.
  • Supermans: lie on your front and lift your arms and legs one at a time, holding each for three breaths.

Be your fittest self

It may seem obvious that the fitter you are, the easier your run will feel and the more confidence you’ll have in your ability. However, many new runners make the mistake of thinking a ‘rest day’ means lying on a sofa - when it doesn’t.

In fact, you can still walk, swim, cycle, roller blade, kayak and do aqua aerobics or any other exercise that will build up your aerobic capacity.

The added advantage of introducing a number of different training methods is that if you get injured, you can still maintain your fitness; which means a comeback isn’t such a struggle.

Bush or beach

Time constraints mean that many of us just have to run the route that’s within reach of our front door. However, if you are struggling to remember why you’re running, it does help to try to fit in a “treat” run.

Research shows that exercising in green spaces, especially near water, can improve feelings of wellbeing and reduce stress and tension. Running on different terrains, through the bush or on a beach, will use different muscles and exploring new scenery will reduce boredom.

Head to a national park or beach if you can, and if that’s impossible, try viewing your route through the eyes of a stranger, making an effort to notice and enjoy small details.

Get enough sleep

Studies in mice4 have found that five consecutive days of moderate sleep deprivation can significantly exacerbate pain sensitivity over time in otherwise healthy animals.

If you have had a bad night, try to take it easy and rest when you can.

Try our top tips and break those running barriers down today!

Real Insurance is proud to sponsor the Sydney Harbour 10k and 5k races. Learn more here or download the comprehensive eGuide on best practice for runners.