10/03/2013 03:22 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Just Keep Running: Staying Motivated!

Trying to stay motivated while running is a challenge. Motivation is especially difficult when trying to achieve initial goals at the beginning of training. I don't like to give the, "Okay, I should stop now. Oh man, this hurts. I can't do this. Ouch, ouch, ouch!" thoughts a chance to occupy my mind very much. It's true the beginning stinks, but if you keep pushing through it gets easier and, I know you won't believe it, but fun!

I try to focus on the scenery and compile a killer playlist to help keep myself focused on the run. It's funny how much of an impact music makes. I tend to lean towards a mixture of rap or hard-core rock and even dubstep when I run. The loud, rebellious, in-your-face vibe those genres put out just makes me feel like I can do anything. However, too much rap can have an impact on my timing, because I can frequently be seen running with a swagger. I've tried running without the music before, and even in my best shape I needed to stop a few times within the first couple of miles. Some people are really into the nature sounds and the feeling of running free, and that's great! Use whatever works to motivate you to keep going. I have a friend who likes to run listening to the full-length soundtrack of a musical. As the show progresses in her iPod so does she. She uses the place in the soundtrack to gage where she is in her run. Another friend is all about listening to upbeat music that makes her want to dance. It's all about what gets YOU going! I'm always looking for new music suggestions to keep my playlist from getting stale.

Where you run has an effect on your running, too. For my first half marathon, I trained at a three-mile lake a lot. I liked it because it was paved like the terrain at the race would be, it was measured at exactly three miles, and it was beautiful to run around. I'd mark the first mile by this beautiful swan that territorially swam in that part of the lake, the second mile by the town pool the lake had, and the third by the little old men and their grandchildren fishing on the pier that extended into the lake. This was lovely while I was running at my three, five, six and eight-mile goals, but then, well, it faded a little. When it got to the point where I was running 12 miles and had to run the lake four times it got annoyingly repetitive. "Swan, pool, fishermen, swan, pool, fishermen." Then it became, "Evil swan that just chased me away from its territory, kids that scootered into me, smelly fish guts." Until finally it became, "I'm going to kill that swan, I hate these kids and I hope those fishermen can swim!" Running at the same place over and over, especially if you're running distance, can be really tiring.

Wanting to be exact about the mileage and my lack of knowledge of other running routes limited me to this one lake. The repetition eventually discouraged me and stressed me out. I remember trying to switch it up by running the track in the opposite direction. That was okay for a while. I love trail running in wooded areas because it helps prevent the dreaded shin splints and feels more like an adventure. If you have a runner's watch or other mileage tracking device you can run anywhere and not worry about tracking your miles. In my opinion, running on trails is a bad idea if you're getting ready for an event just because your feet won't be used to the shock of pavement. It's important to be prepared in every way and avoid injuries. Motivation is key to pushing yourself further than you thought you could go. Go put on your running shoes, the Mama Mia soundtrack, and find a beautiful or interesting place to run! Remember not to harm any wildlife, children or fisherman along the way!

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