Running Works

How do you stay motivated, enthusiastic and driven?

Given how many of us are now working from home, are you constantly distracted by social media or the contents of the fridge?

Having worked from home for 14 years, long before it became normal due to COVID, I like to think I’m a bit of a pro when it comes to self-motivation.

Yes, Mondays can be a thought, and I wouldn’t be human if I said I enjoyed every moment of the working day, but I have a secret weapon that helps – running.

Before you switch off and think,‘that’s not for me’, stay with me.

It wasn’t always easy and it still isn’t. I started running after contracting pneumonia which led to a collapsed lung. The respiratory consultant at Ninewells recommended I start running to reinflate the lung which he described as ‘hanging there like a deflated balloon…’ – nice.  So I did, starting with walk/runs between lampposts to 5ks, 10ks and a number of half marathons raising funds for several charities including the RNLI, of particular significance due to the death of my then 24-year-old brother (also a runner incidentally).

Over 10 years on, I don’t just run – I use it to tick a number of boxes.

Fitness – there’s no doubt that I enjoy the physical improvements running brings, feeling fitter, stronger and staying trim.

Friendship – being the chatty sort, I’m one of these people who runs AND talks, meeting runchums to catch up on news, chit-chat and vent frustration on whatever’s bugging us!

Mental health – as an add-on to that, running is a brilliant way to clear the head. I often start my run feeling bogged down by a negative thought, work problem or other dilemma. Half an hour later, armed with the right music, the problem is either solved or considerably more manageable than before. Yup, running brings clarity to the nagging thoughts that keep you awake at night. You might even start sleeping better.

As you might guess, running took on a whole different dimension during lockdown.  It was a way to escape the confines of the house, dilute the COVID thoughts and return feeling more positive, refreshed and ready to get on with the day.  I certainly wasn’t alone there – new runners were popping up daily, realising it was a great way to break up the day and escape the desk (or kitchen table).

Setting an example – rarely one to talk about weight or calories, I’d rather talk about feeling fitter and stronger. It’s great to see my teenage daughter enjoying regular weight training and my teenage son flying out the door for a late-night run. (“Can I borrow your earphones Mum?” “Yes, I suppose so!”)  My partner and I have also started running with the dogs and the youngest, in particular, seems hooked!

Pride – this is an unusual one. It’s not just about feeling proud of myself when I run further or faster. I often feel proud of Dundee as I run around the city, especially the ever-changing Waterfront. Having moved here in 1997, Dundee has completely transformed, showing real ambition and bold thinking in the process. Drinking in the view as I run makes me so glad to live and work here.

So, if you’re feeling negative, demotivated and flat, get up from your desk and get outside.  You don’t have to run. Even a brisk walk with your earphones, a walk with a friend or a walking meeting might do the trick and kickstart some ‘new normals’ in the process.   Not all meetings have to be on Teams or Zoom remember, and you’ll view things differently when you chat while you walk.

It might be darker and colder than before but there’s always time to take advantage of the autumn light, get up and get out.  What’s your excuse?!