Few things rival the high that comes with setting a new goal. For mom runners, aspiring to a new race length or personal record brings some much-needed excitement to the otherwise monotonous routines of early parenthood. If you’re like most runners, a new goal is often followed by creating a new schedule, buying some fresh running gear and knocking your progress out of the park for a few days or weeks.
Then, reality sets in.
The kids get sick. The baby won’t sleep. You forget about the mid-week ballgame, or the PTA fundraiser, or the million other obligations of parenthood.
In the face of that reality, your motivation fades. Your new schedule slips and progress soon comes to a screeching halt. That fresh running gear gathers dust and you can’t quite remember why you set the goal in the first place.
Sorry to say, but that story isn’t unique. As mom runners, we’ve all been there.
Daydreaming about running a marathon or achieving a new PR is easy and fun. Doing the actual work to turn the daydream into reality… not so easy and not often fun. It’s easier to set your daydreams aside and return to the reality that fits neatly within your comfort zone. But you’re not here reading this post because you want to stay in your comfort zone.
As Rachel Hollis described in her book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, your daydream is your future self asking what if. It’s the calling of who you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to achieve. You’re stronger than your current comfort zone—you just need a little discipline to cross the threshold.
When setting your next running goal, don’t repeat the past cycle of letting it slip. Rather than relying on fickle motivation to see you through, learn how to stay disciplined toward achieving your running goals.
Here are some useful tips and tricks to set your next goal up for success:
Like it or not, as mom runners, we’re not much different from our kids when it comes to being motivated by the prospect of a reward. At times, the most effective way to maintain progress toward achieving a running goal is dangling the carrot of a reward in front of your runs. For example, you could only allow yourself to listen to a much-anticipated audiobook while running or you could earn an indulgence only after achieving a few goal milestones. This strategy is best reserved for those days when you’re feeling sluggish or when you face a run on your schedule that you don’t necessarily enjoy.
In our interview with her, ultra-marathoner Angela Herrboldt shared several great tips for effectively using rewards to achieve running goal progress. Check out her advice.
Find Your Why
Why do you run? Is it to remain healthy for life? Maybe you run to show your kids a model of strength and health. Perhaps it’s to keep your anxiety in check.
If you haven’t yet, find your why for running. Take some time and journal about what drives you to set and achieve running goals. Condense your why into one succinct sentence and memorize it. On days when your motivation wanes or when you’re struggling to find strength on a challenging run, center your why in your mind and cling to it.
Adopting a series of running mantras can also help you stay focused on achieving your running goals. Learn more about mantras for mom runners and their effectiveness in our article, Running Tips: Achieve Your Goals with Running Mantras.
Create a Habit Stack
Habits can lead you toward your life goals, or away from them. For example, maybe you want to get up earlier and run each morning, but you habitually stay up late each night and hit the snooze button each morning. Those two habits are very much working against your running goal.
Rework your current habits and add new, beneficial habits to the mix by creating habit stacks. As detailed in the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, habit stacks involve adding a new habit that you’d like to create into your existing habits. As an example, maybe you’d like to start stretching before each run and let’s say your existing running routine involves putting on your running clothes, lacing your shoes and heading out the door. You can add stretching to the mix by making the act of putting on your running clothes be the cue to stretch before lacing up your shoes and heading out the door.
View each act as a layer in a stack of habits. Adding a new layer to an existing habit stack is an effective method of creating new habits.
Make Schedules, Track Progress
As the famous quote by Peter Drucker states—what gets measured, gets managed.
Everyone else’s wants and needs will take priority if you don’t include time for self-care in the household’s schedule. Make a family schedule in advance of each coming week and reserve time within that schedule to achieve progress toward your running goals. At the end of each week, review the schedule and note whether you followed through on your commitments.
Of course, as mom runners, we all know that beautifully laid plans rarely survive the chaos of parenthood. The point is not to adhere to your schedule with absolute rigidity. Rather, schedules serve as visual reminders for what you need to achieve each week. If something comes up and you need to run on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday evening, no problem! Be flexible and adapt plans as needed. Just don’t let a change in the schedule become an excuse to give up on your goals. In our interview with her, Coach and Runner Stephanie Harboe offered great advice on the importance of flexibility in training. Check out her advice.
Accountability is a great motivator. Goals kept to yourself can easily be abandoned because most of us are experts at talking ourselves out of pursuing life changes. On the other hand, goals feel more real when they’re shared with others. The stakes suddenly become a bit higher when others are watching. Don’t keep your running goals inside. Instead, release them to others. Rally together a group of supportive mom runners, share your ideas and support each other on your journeys.
Don’t let your shiny new running goals become dusty and forgotten. Learn how to stay disciplined when your motivation dips by knowing your why for running, creating habit stacks, making weekly running schedules and more.
Want to add accountability to your running goals? Run on over to our private Runner Moms Facebook Community and connect with other runner moms.
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