As part of our the-depth series United States of Running, we teamed up with Well + Good—to bring you a peek into how running superstars get motivated, maintain focus, and stay hydrated for every mile. Ready, set, go.
No matter how much you love a good jog for its head-clearing magic (and the uninterrupted podcast-listening time), the situation can quickly turn monotonous after you finish that first mile. So how do you keep your focus—whether it’s a three-mile run or a full-on marathon?
For Peloton head instructor Robin Arzon (and author of the best-selling book Shut Up and Run), the initial motivation came from an unexpected but oh-so-relatable scenario: She signed up for a marathon after a breakup. (Seriously, been there.)
“Breakups have been the catalysts for many amazing things,” says the in-demand New York City trainer. “And once I crossed that finish line in Central Park, a switch flipped in me. I was like, ‘Wow, I just did some epic shit, and I’m going to do it again!’”
“Endurance athletics plays with your curiosity and really help you find your purpose.”
Since then, Arzon has completed 24 marathons, and the upcoming New York City one will be her 25th time crossing the finish line. But she doesn’t stop 26.2 miles: Arzon also runs ultra-marathons, of the 50-plus variety. (Insert both shocked-face and clapping-hands emojis here.)
Even if you’re more a jog-around-the-neighborhood type, though, Arzon’s advice for staying in the zone is gold for anyone lacing up to hit the pavement longer than ten minutes.
“There’s something about endurance [runs] that plays with your curiosity and really helps you find your purpose,” she says. “You just have to face yourself head on. And I’ve found that you learn so much about yourself when you’re on the verge of being physically tapped out.”
Although that long-ago breakup was the original catalyst to lace up for her first big race, Arzon says the real motivation to run now goes deeper than that. She credits her longer runs with helping her redefine her own goals and potential. “And it’s all been done through a pair of running shoes,” she adds.
Need help staying motivated to go that extra mile? Below, check out Arzon’s top tips for staying in the game for the long run.
“You really need to start before you’re ready,” Arzon says. That doesn’t mean you should under-train, but instead fully commit to the idea that you’re capable before you hit the sign-up button. And guess what? You can! “Plus, once you paid a hundred bucks to run around the city, you’re probably going to show up to that starting line,” Arzon (accurately) adds.
2. Stay hydrated (for real)
It sounds like a no-brainer, but maintaining your hydration levels will keep your body feeling inspired to do what it needs to accomplish. “I constantly have water with me. And I always make sure to really hydrate the night before a race,” Arzon says.
In the days leading up to a long run, Arzon chows down on lots of watermelon and opts for a H20 like Flow Water, the alkaline spring water that’s naturally loaded with minerals and electrolytes to help your body recover. Plus, it’s a mindful (and earth-friendly choice), since each Flow Water comes in eco-friendly packaging made from 70-percent renewable materials.
“The beauty of training is that it helps you pay attention to how much water and nutrition your body needs,” she says. “That is a beautiful conversation that you can only have with yourself.”
3. Identify the why
“When we’re very specific about why we’re doing something, how we accomplish it can follow,” Arzon says. Translation: Remember why you’re doing this in the first place. It could be because you want to set a healthy example for the people in your life, or to help raise money for a charity you believe in. Or you just know how badass you’ll feel crossing the finish line.
“On days when you really don’t feel like training and a Hulu marathon is calling your name, the why is a good reminder of why you need to get up,” she advises.
4. Start bragging on social—seriously
It’s a good idea to tell people you’re training for a race, Arzon says, so you’ll be held accountable for actually having to do it. “Take selfies during your training and brag about it on social media,” she says.
In addition to making yourself accountable in a public setting, Arzon says your documentations might have an added bonus, too: “You just might be inspiring someone else to try it.”