It’s something most runners come across at one point or another during the year. Some may call it a “rut” or a “funk,” but it boils down to our lack of wanting to run (or fill in other: yoga, bike, lift, etc). It can last a couple of days, weeks, or months… it just depends on how we are able to work through it. What works for one runner, doesn’t work for all… and what worked last time, might not work again.

This post is not a solution to the problem, just more of a  look at how I approach the situation. I can only share what works for me… with that being said, it doesn’t always work for me.

I’m the kind of runner that likes to be “trained” for most of the year. I typically stay in the range of being able to run 15 miles comfortably throughout the year. There are points where I can get that number to around 20… such as last August and September when I was attempting to run 200 miles in a month. At that point, I was knocking out 20 mile runs like clockwork. But then October came and I had one of my lowest monthly totals ever, even with 2 half marathons.

The last part of the sentence is the key… “even with 2 half marathons.” That’s my answer… racing. I love it, I really do. There is something special about race day that seems to reignite my passion with running. In the month of October, I failed to crack 100 miles, but set a half marathon PR and ran another half dressed as Batman with friends. Putting races on the calendar throughout the year allows me to stay focussed and keep my legs moving. My weekly miles might not always be ridiculously high, but there are miles on there and having a date circled on the calendar, at any distance, keeps me motivated to get out there and run.

Having half marathons throughout the year allows me to continue running at a strong pace and keeps me running from month to month. It could easily be a 5k, or 1ok, but having something to train for or towards helps me stay motivated throughout the year. I will also use half marathons as training runs to build up strength and speed for marathons. I’ll typically run several of marathons a year… and trust me, with a marathon on the calendar, it’s hard NOT to stay motivated.

The perfect example of races being motivation for me is how quickly I decided to give Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona a go. It was NOT on my calendar at the time of CIM. It WAS on my radar though. Part of my being able to relax at CIM, was that I was already thinking about what was coming up next. I hadn’t committed to running RnRAZ, but was strongly leaning towards it. If I failed to crack 3:40 at CIM then I was going to give it a go at AZ. Since I did crack 3:40, I decided to keep building on that and do AZ even faster. Oh the joy of races. From one straight to another.

This is the point on the post where I repeat: what works for me, might not work for you.

I’ve been running for over 6 years and I in no way resemble the runner that I was when I started. Post-marathons, I was a mess for weeks. I was limping, struggling to move up and down stairs and couldn’t even fathom doing multiple marathons a year, let alone weeks apart. Through training, trial and error… and most importantly, learning from that error, I have become a stronger runner that has found comfort in shorter recovery times. If you take a look at my 2014 calendar, the year is filled with races at half and full distances. Although I have not signed up for all of them, you can see that there isn’t much room for down time. That doesn’t mean I will be training at 100% intensity throughout the year, I do need to rest… but it allows me to have some down time, but stay focussed on an upcoming race.

For me, having a race every month or two, keeps me going throughout the year. For you, it could be 2 in a year or 1 every season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall). Either way, try adding a distance you feel comfortable at running onto the calendar.  You don’t have to register for it yet, but if you have it on the calendar in pencil, it’ll be a good reminder to keep getting out there to run… who knows, it may work.

Here are some races in the Bay Area that you might want to consider for 2014:

January 12: Foster City 10-miler (part of a 3-race series)
Coupon: Register for Foster City (before 12/24) and receive a $20 off code for Oakland Half or Full in March (details here).

April 6: Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half (FYI: sold out last year)
Coupon: on the 13th of every month, RnR has a $13 off code: LUCKY13

July 27: SF Marathon (2 half options, full)
Coupon: $10 off any event with code DSC10TSFM2014A19 – thanks @chrismalenab

Nov. 2: US Half (San Francisco)
Coupon: Early Bird prices here. Current price is $59-$69

How do you stay motivated?