How Setting Low Goals Keeps Me Running

Saturday morning, as soon as I got out of bed, I put on my running clothes – even my running shoes (Trick #1, more below). I was ready to go!

Except outside it was cloudy and misting rain. It looked chilly. I’ll just have a cup of coffee, then I’ll go – I told myself.

Coffee made. But these little boys. They’re so cute. I’ll go after they finish playing.

Can we go to the playground, mommy?


You see where this is going. Excuse after excuse for myself to not go running.

Running and sleep have a lot in common for me. I love both. I need both. I always feel better when both are done.

But sometimes I put both off. I stay up an extra hour to spend time with my husband. I delay my run to work on a project. Either one, if I skip it, I pay for it.

When I do not want to sleep, physiology usually wins out. When I do not want to run (or workout), I turn to my five favorite Oh Girl – You’re Going Running tricks:

  1. Dress for the Part – I make myself put on my running clothes. Don’t pass go, don’t get in the shower, don’t collect $200. Just put the running clothes on. If this sounds familiar, it’s because I referenced here.
  2. Fresh Beats – I download jazzy songs for my running playlist.  Then it feels like a waste of a $1.29 if I don’t use it.
  3. Fill the Wire – I surround myself with inspiration (or guilt if I am in a glass half-empty mood).In the old days, I did this by subscribing to Self or Fitness. In our new modern era, I follow running blogs: Jane Runs Wild, MilePosts. Their stories about their runs help stimulate me to go out and do the same.(This one made me google the true difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is more what I am doing it for. Sometimes that’s hard for me to visualize. In its abstract state, it is not enough to get my out the door. Inspiration is the mental stimulation. Magazines and blogs make others’ activity concrete – something I can feel and see. Inspiration has a more immediate effect on me.)
  4. Set Low Goals – This is counterintuitive to almost all of the advice, in life or exercise, ever uttered. But it works. Something about starting – the heavy breathing, the sweating – makes it easier to keep going past the original low goal. This is how it works: I’m only going for a slow and short 3 mile run. Just 20 minutes on the elliptical. You can read Us Weekly, chew gum and blow bubbles. It’ll be so easy!
  5. Phone a Friend – If all else fails, I employ peer pressure. I text and call friends to see if I can convince someone to suffer through my exercising misery with me.

Back to Saturday and the damp cold run I was avoiding. College Gameday was coming to an end. That signaled it was my last opportunity to run that day.

My brother was in town half-napping on our couch. I told him to get up. He growled and sneered at me. “Put your shoes on, we’re going,” I said (Trick #5).

Once outside we agreed on a short three mile run so we could move on with our lives (Trick #4). As we grinded through the first 5 minutes, we went through the normal flow of emotions:

Ok this great – we’re doing it!
Oh my gosh – is this hill steeper than it was yesterday?
Ugh – change the music, I can’t stand that song.
Look at the trees – they’re so pretty! There’s no where else I’d rather be right now!


All this melted away as we hit our stride. Our breathing evened out and we settled in. When we hit the turn around point, we made the decision to go farther. Barring a time constraint or just one of those days where my body is begging for a deserved break, that is how Trick # 4 always works.

Five miles later (and after using Tricks #1, #4 and #5) we were back home. I felt better. And I was really proud of myself for exceeding my goal by two miles. See how awesome it is to set low goals?! 🙂  The boys wanted to run too…so we let them.

Do you have any tricks to get moving?

10 thoughts on “How Setting Low Goals Keeps Me Running

  1. Margot says:

    Love this! Great advice!!! And love seeing Lee!!!! I always use the get dressed part–I will even lay my clothes out the night before so that they stare at me when I wake up. Your boys are so cute.


  2. Liz says:

    Very good advice and something I really need to start putting to good use! My trick: sign up for a class the next day (it’s always easier to find time tomorrow, right?) that has a 24 hr cancellation policy. If you miss it, there’s a penalty, so it forces me to move it up the priority list!


  3. Unrelenting Amee says:

    I’m all about #4, Libby! That’s how I built up my mileage. (I’m topping out at 5 thus far, but with plans for a 10k and a 10 Miler this spring!) I’d say only 2.5 or 2.75 and then go 3 or more if I felt “in the zone.” Yesterday I didn’t run when it was 25 degrees, but went shopping and got my first base layer top– that helped me run today! I’m trying to slowly build a serious wardrobe so I have no excuses about weather. 🙂


    • Libby Vish Carl says:

      Hey Amee – that’s great! Best of luck in your 10k and 10m Miler – you’ll do great! Winter weather is tricky. Good luck building winter running wardrobe. It’s taken me several years, but the keys are fleece lined tights, layers around the core, good gloves (I prefer cheap ones that were swag from a race over a pair of Nikes that just leave my fingers cold) and a hat.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unrelenting Amee says:

        Thank you!! Just got done with a run. 🙂 Next I’ll need rain gear. Feeling more confident about my winter layers. I agree about Nike gloves– I took them back! They were pointless. I am wearing two pair of gloves right now, thin Saucony ones with some fleece Old Navy over them. I’m actually going to miss winter running when it officially warms up. 🙂


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