Virtual running is becoming extremely popular, and there are good reasons why. Virtual races provide runners a unique way to challenge themselves, achieve goals, stay motivated, and celebrate personal accomplishments. These races are excellent tools for motivation and perseverance because they provide incentives and accountability, two proven factors for effective behavioral change.
Let’s be honest; it’s easier to accomplish a task when there’s a reward waiting. My dog, Roxy, is a prime example. She’s stubborn and does very little unless there’s a reward involved. However, her motivation spikes when she sees the yummy treat in my hand. I’m convinced that every time I ask her to do something, she’s thinking, “What’s in it for me?” Humans are no different.
To effectively use incentives, you need to identify your “why.” It’s time to dig deep and peel back those onion layers to discover your real “why.” For example, many people will say, “I’m running to lose weight.” Yes, that’s a “why,” but ask “why” again and again until you unveil your true desire. I challenge you to go beyond losing weight for vanity reasons. Losing weight for a wedding is great, but consider what motivates you beyond the wedding. Do you need more energy, better sleep, less knee pain? Maybe you want to run a 5k to gain confidence and prove to yourself that you’re capable, and you are. 😊
A deeper understanding of your goals is critical for strengthening your motivation and increasing your odds of changing your habits for good.
Implementing a running routine to improve your health or build confidence are fantastic incentives. However, having additional incentives along the way will bolster your long-term commitment. We humans L-O-V-E instant gratification—right?! I do, for sure. All bad habits come with a reward, which is why we maintain these destructive patterns. The reward for eating junk food is the feeling of pleasure as we savor the delicious flavors. To change this habit, we need to replace it with a healthy one that offers a desirable reward.
Virtual races provide unique incentives for reaching your goals. Losing weight can take months or years, but strategically incorporating mini incentives along the way will keep you moving and motivated. Completing a 5k run offers instant gratification for personal achievement with a celebration at the finish line—hooray! This celebration includes a race medal that’s a physical reminder of your hard work and success. Every time you add another race medal to your rack, you gain confidence and increase your desire to achieve even more.
Why not start collecting race medals as a healthy habit to replace an unhealthy one? Take it from me; earning new bling can be seriously addicting, but it’s a positive habit worth keeping.
Because we want you to be successful, we have goals to expand our race incentives through random drawings and challenges to earn awards and prizes (stay tuned!). Who doesn’t love winning a prize, especially when it’s a product of their hard work, right?!
Running for a good cause can be an additional incentive. Many virtual race programs donate a portion of the registration fees to charity. One of our philosophies at RunPups is to have a “why” for yourself as well as a “why” beyond yourself. Make it a win! Win by improving yourself while helping others. Find a race connected to a charity you want to support. For example, we love our dogs, so of course our races support dog rescue organizations.
We’ve all heard this before, haven’t we?! “Being accountable to someone greatly increases your odds of success.” I wholeheartedly believe this statement because it’s true within my own life. Whether you have an accountability partner or not, there are numerous ways to establish accountability. Virtual racing enhances your accountability efforts. When you register for an event and schedule your run, you're far more likely to follow through with your commitment.
Many virtual races require you to upload your run data to an app or website, which adds another layer of accountability. We also recommend publicly stating your intentions of running a race to family and friends or in a post on social media. The positive pressure of being true to your word is a powerful motivator.
Get involved with other runners in the virtual race community. Our Run for Pups virtual race program gives us fantastic opportunities to meet like-minded people on social media. We share our stories, struggles, and victories. Join us; there’s always room for another running buddy!
Here’s your action plan:
1. Write down what goal you want to achieve.
2. Write down why you want to achieve your goal ( remember to dig deep).
3. Take action to hold yourself accountable.
4. Read your goals and why you want to achieve them daily to stay focused and committed.
5. Celebrate and share your accomplishments—you deserve it!
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