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Of course you are going to feel overwhelmed with the difficulty of trying to clock a certain time or cover a certain distance if your expectations were unrealistic from the start.
It's important to be honest with yourself about your level, and this requires a good dose of self awareness. Your base (endurance) speed, your ability to keep up the pace at your threshold, and the number of training sessions each week: you should take all of these parameters into account. It can be useful to seek the help of a coach or an experienced runner to get an outside point of view (often more objective).
Setting off without a stopwatch, with no other goal than to clear your head, is a healthy way to go about practising sports; running while just thinking about how you feel has its advantages. However, it is also important to plan your training around certain fundamental points.
A loss of motivation is often the result of a monotonous exercise routine. It is important to balance each week with a variety of sessions. Long runs at a moderate speed will develop your endurance, while more faster interval runs will increase your cardiovascular abilities.
The solitary long-distance runner is a (literary) myth with no justification when your motivation starts to wear thin! No one has ever proven that it is more effective to run while soliloquising the difficulties of moving forward.
So teaming up with some runner friends is a good idea. Whether they be neighbours, work colleagues, or members of an association or club, the goal is to assemble a friendly group of people who can stimulate each other and help each other get moving (once again). Obviously, it is best to find runners who are at a similar level as yourself (or slightly better) so as to challenge you to keep up, in addition to the joys of chatting before and after the run.
Do you really need a carrot to chase after? Of course not. Many runners jog for decades without ever pinning a number to their chest. However, participating in a timed race allows you to measure yourself, see how you've progressed and, above all, plan for the future.
Taking part in a competition (the word itself can sometimes put you off) shouldn't be intimidating. The idea of surpassing yourself shouldn't be the main concern, especially for novice runners. But bringing home the "finisher" medal is always a good motivator.
This may seem like a bit of a gimmick, but is in fact essential. It's a simple fuss-free way to help runners who are eager to stay motivated daily. Weekly mileage or time over set distances: updating your training log every day lets you check that you're sticking to your goals.
Over time, a training log can even become a retreat, where runners write down how they feel when exercising, their level of fatigue, their weariness or optimism about an upcoming competition. Anything that can help boost motivation levels is good.
It is normal to suffer a dip in motivation from time to time during the year. You therefore need to know the difference between overall fatigue, which justifies cutting down on your training, and a simple mental block that you will get over in no time at all.
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