Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Gimmicks. Exercise. Motivation. Sticks. Carrots.

I used to think that if you needed a gimmick to get you exercising, then it was taking something away from the enjoyment of exercising for its own sake and you might as well not bother.
Apart from that, I thought, gimmicks were a waste of money. 

Quick image search for exercise gimmicks…


Sheesh! Yup. This is still the case, I’m sure, for a lot of things. But can they work too?

I barely use it much now, but I found the Wii-Fit was great for getting me (and particularly my son) active on a rainy day. And yes, all the arguments about getting outside, getting wet, getting fresh air, etc. are indeed very valid.  We both still enjoy getting outside of course, but occasionally it’s a laugh to see him attempt a rowing race (and in the process, do approximately 50 sit-ups whilst barely being aware of it).

Do you remember those bracelets, worn by sportspeople, that harnessed the magnetic powers of the atmospheric chi lines of powerful nature magic causing ions that flow around the chakra plexus? Well… clearly they didn’t work…

Trion:z bracelet link

Triniton (‘trying it on’) spoof version link

[Edit: oh my goodness! Even the original version reads like someone has written it as a spoof!]

But did they work? A placebo effect, for all of its placebo-ness, is still an effect, is it not?

Now I’ve been losing a bit of weight recently. Not tons (obviously) but enough to feel that at the start of a 5k run, I should, all other things being equal, be able to run faster for the same effort. Result was, I did. PB. Thank you very much.

But did I put the same effort in? Or did I just have a bit more belief in myself?

A few weeks later and I have purchased a cheap Garmin (with Heart Rate monitor strap) via a well known online auction site. I run a 5k again. I get another PB. Thank you very much.

Now clearly, a Garmin doesn’t make me run faster. Maybe, it was that I could leave my phone (and therefore my run app tracker doobrie-wotsit) at home, thus saving me from carrying an additional few grammes around the 3.1 mile route? Maybe it helped me stick to the required pace better? I think it’s probably this.

Another week, a bit more weight loss, a bit more belief, another PB, and before I know it, I’ve gone from struggling to break 23:00 minutes for a 5k to now be only eleven seconds away from a time beginning with 21:something.

The same is often true of the weeks I run when I have bought a new pair of running shoes. They turn out to be PB weeks. Anyone else find this?

(Obviously you don’t necessarily know which week I’ve bought new running shoes. I was thinking more of you and when you have new shoes.)

I am still using my various running points accumulators too Bounts and Running Heroes . The same run, tracked via GPS app, gets me points for both of these. After approximately a year of use, I recently exchanged my Bounts points for £15 in gift cards. For runs I would have done anyway. Bonus.

If you haven’t yet signed up to this and you already use a tracking app then you really are missing out on money for nothing. (P.S If you do sign up then using the code Avery1132 when you do will get us both additional points)

The points are also still building for Running Heroes too but the rewards aren’t so good, I find. However I have found the weekly challenges very motivating. They vary in difficulty/effort, but if you complete them, you get entered into prize draws for various goods. This has sometimes meant that I’ve been out for runs I might otherwise not have been motivated to do. I’ve still never won anything yet, mind you and I doubt either of these reward schemes would interest me if I had no interest in running in the first place.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’ve barely run at all. Darker, colder nights and a chesty cold that’s been hanging around have resulted in just a half hour walk/run last weekend and a very leisurely parkrun with my son (which was great) the week before. The Garmin has sat on the sideboard, gradually running out of battery and the only points I’ve been accumulating have been of the sort counted by dieters. 

So what will get me back out there? I tell you what… It’s very unlikely to be a bracelet or a games console or a fetching silver space-sauna-suit, and it won’t be an app or a watch or the promise of points or a high-protein flapjack or beetroot juice or the lure of a sub 22:00 5k*.

(*mmmm….actually, if I’m honest, it might be that last one, at least in part.)


Why do I run?

How many blog posts try to answer this question?

I’m not sure I know the answer…to either of the above. Partly because the answer changes day to day, month to month, year to year.

I started initially so that a female friend at university didn’t have to run alone at night when we were on placement in a new place. But I found myself still going for runs when she said she couldn’t make it.
Stress relief. I think that is still the main reason for me.

One of the best explanations from someone else that I have seen, is one with which you may already be familiar if you are within the running world.
It’s by ‘the oatmeal’ and can be found here.

Gimmicks can help get me out running too. I remember being given an iPod and a Nike+ foot pod thing many years ago now. Then using the Nike+ app with its sort of internal pedometer (my iPod didn’t have gps).
When I eventually got a smart phone, that opened up a new means of run recording, via gps tracked runs. I used apps like endomondo, runkeeper and more recently Strava.  Seeing the miles clock up and seeing speed and distance improvements certainly helped, along with the various other stats.
Also parkrun – the run not a race  (but where you push yourself hard over that final straight so that person you’ve been ‘leapfrogging’ with over the past 4.8km doesn’t overtake again over the final 200m) adds a new element to running motivation for some. Some people don’t miss a week.

This Juneathon and Janathon malarkey… Exercise everyday, blog everyday for a month… Or doing a ‘runstreak’… Motivating? Definitely at times. But if you miss a day, what happens to that motivation?

Jantastic – the initiative from the marathon talk folk was really useful for helping me to get out and running over the first three months of this year in preparation for a marathon in April.

Would I have got out and run without it? Probably. But I think it helped.

Or did it?
Do any of these things?

Or do they do the opposite?

Would I still do Juneathon if nobody read/liked/commented?

Does the motivation come from within (intrinsic), or externally (extrinsic) in the form of whatever ‘reward’ we perceive we get?

Moreover, does the introduction of extrinsic rewards lead to an overall decrease in intrinsic motivation once the external rewards are removed?

I remember the above hypothesis was a generally accepted one in sports psychology around the time that I did my GCSE in physical education …errr…a few years ago.
There was some experiment where people were observed regarding the length of time spent playing with a puzzle. They were then paid a small amount for solving puzzles the next day, and then the day after that the pay was removed and the puzzle playing dramatically decreased. (If I was still at university, I’d have to reference that, but because I’m not, and I’m feeling lazy, I’m not going to. Such a rebel!)

This hypothesis – that intrinsic motivation was decreased by the introduction and subsequent removal of extrinsic rewards – was perhaps a rather sweeping statement to make anyway as more recent studies seem to suggest things are a little more complex and that in some circumstances extrinsic rewards can actually enhance intrinsic motivation. (If you are interested to read more, there’s a bit of a summary at )

This is good news, I think.
I don’t want to be decreasing my desire to be active by using the various gadgets/apps/rewards-websites that I do. But… and unfortunately, I have to admit, I can think of times when this has happened in the past… I don’t want to not get out of the house because I can’t find my phone/ipod, or stop a run because my app has crashed and ‘it won’t count’.

So maybe it’s good to get out every now and again without an app, without an iPod, without even a goal or a session plan in mind. Just go. If you don’t think you would, or could, then maybe your intrinsic motivation has been decreased?

Now… not to undermine all of that… but intended as an extra, an add-on, a ‘sign-up and forget about it’ sort of thing, I have joined up with two rewards sites. One (Bounts) has been going for a while and the other (Running Heroes) only started up in the UK in this past month.
Both sites award points for the exercise you record via any number of apps and you can then exchange these points for tangible rewards such as discount vouchers, gift cards, etc.
It would be a real shame if it ever got to the point where anyone just ran for the purpose of earning these points, but personally, I figure, “if I’m running anyway…why not?”. I am currently at a point with Bounts where I’m just a few runs away from being able to get a £10 supermarket gift card… effectively for runs I’d have done anyway.

If you haven’t already signed up to Bounts and you are thinking about it, then for a limited time we can both get a load of extra points if you sign up through this link or quote avery1132 when you sign up.

I was also contacted by Running Heroes recently and in addition to bonus points if you sign up through this link, they also sent me an instant 100 point bonus code ‘run67run‘ which they said I could share with my readers.

My personal idea with these sites is, having signed up, just to forget about them for a while. They sync up automatically with the apps I use and the points build up over time for what I do anyway. If someone wants to send me vouchers for doing that – great.

Yesterday, I played tennis. I didn’t get any (website-related) points for that. I still enjoyed it. Intrinsic motivation still intact there. Today it’s back to running, though…and I’ll probably get a few points for it… But that’s not the reason I’m going.

If you use these sites, I’d be interested to know what you think of them too. Let me know.

Saturday 13th June 2015

Last night, the plan was to get a parkrun PB for the third time in a row at my ‘local’ (15 minute drive away) event this morning.

This morning, due to time constraints (wanting to get the washing done first), that plan became to go 5 minutes down the road and complete the ‘Colliers Wood Canter’ which is a 5k run organised by a local running club (Kimberley Striders). They had originally applied for this to be a ‘parkrun venue proper’ but it was turned down, they inform me. Nonetheless, once a month (second Saturday, I think) these guys do their own version using the less technological methods of stopwatch, pen, paper and place tokens and to their credit they do a great job.

I’m sure there were good reasons for the parkrun team to turn down the venue but for folks that can’t make the journey to Nottingham, this event is a great free 5k timed run…

…except I didn’t even make it to this event either.  A very hard working wife with a million school reports to write and check, and high-spirited early-waking children meant my highly tuned parenting skills were required at home.

I took Child1 to his tennis session. It was raining. He played anyway and enjoyed it. I ran my own 5k around the local roads. I didn’t get a PB.

Child1’s tennis tournament in the afternoon was cancelled so I took Child2 to her dance lesson instead and allowed hard-working wife to continue working hard.

It rained all day. Got nothing done of any use in the afternoon. Was looking forward to the tennis tournament and then felt flat.

Good job I ran in the morning.


Recently I have become aware of a couple of sites that aim to reward runners for their physical activity.

The newest of these is Running Heroes which gives more points for longer, faster runs and will retrospectively give you points for your most recent eligible run (via whatever apps you choose to synch with it). So particularly worth considering it if you’ve just run an ultra-marathon!

I have signed up and am in the process of checking it out. I shall no doubt provide further feedback in the future, but for now there is the element of building up a points tally for redemption at some point in the future at no cost and without changing my current exercise habits.

If you do think of signing up, consider clicking THIS LINK (or the one at the end of the press release) for 25 bonus points.



Press release follows: ————- ———– ———– ———– ———– ———– ———– ———–

Running Heroes is launching its UK version
Running Heroes is connecting brands to its community of engaged sportsmen by making their daily jogging fun thanks to rewards and challenges
Paris, the 5th of June 2015 – Founded early 2014 in France, Running Heroes ( went live in the UK just a week ago with the ambition of encouraging people to run in order to stay fit and avoid health issues that is still today one of the first causes of death in the world. More than 1.500 runners already registered on the UK platform after just one week online.
Having built one of the largest running community in France with more than 140.000 members in just one year, Running Heroes launched the Australian version of its website early May and is online in the UK since the 5th of June 2015. More than 150 partners have already trusted Running Heroes in
France including companies such as Nike, Spotify, Uber or Birchbox. Their rewards offering includes of course running and sports brands but also a broad set of products and services like nutrition, boxes, fashion, cabs or online courses. Running Heroes was named a Cool Vendor by Gartner in April 2015, a distinction awarded to worldwide success stories like Dropbox, Evernote, Instagram or BlaBlaCar before.

The way Running Heroes reward runners follows simple steps:
1. Runners connect their running app / watch (Nike+, Runtastic, Garmin, Strava, Runkeeper, Polar, MapMyRun or Endomondo) on using their Facebook, Gmail or personal email address and their apps IDs;
2. Each time they run, runners are allocated points depending on the distance, time and elevation of their session as well as their profile (women gets 20% more points for example);
3. With their points, they get access to exclusive discounts and gifts offered by RunningHeroes’s partners.
In addition to its international expansion in the UK and Australia, Running Heroes is launching new features to further engage its community:
• Running sessions, which enable runners to find people to run with and to set clear meeting date and place they will mark on their agenda;
• Community, which is a tool that allows runners to find a sparring partner around them with a comparable level and comparable habits in order to keep each other motivated and challenge themselves;
• The Forum connects our heroes so that they can exchange tips or share their experiences.
Besides, the Company is launching Cycling Heroes (, its so-called equivalent in cycling following the same principles. The website will be launched at the same time in France, Australia and the UK.
Boris Pourreau – Co-founder & CEO – + 33 (0)7 83 67 07 18 Quentin Auberger – UK Country Manager – +33 (0)7 83 67 07 18

———– ———– ———– ———– ———– ———– ———– ———– ———– ———–


So there you have it. Check it out if you like. Don’t if you don’t.

If you do though, remember…Get 25 bonus points by signing up through this link!

Juneathon (the month-long exercise and blogging challenge) is a lot like my breakfast time.

The day starts and I am full of good intentions.
[The month starts and I am full of good intentions]

I decide I am going to be super healthy and rather than eat that sugary cereal, I am going to eat those bananas swinging delicately in that little hanger thing we have.
[I decide that, in addition to running, I am going to be super healthy and do stretches every day and strength work and use the foam roller that is still in its packet…in the shop… because I haven’t bought it yet]

I peel a banana and decide fairly quickly that it’s too ripe for me, I won’t like it.
[I attempt to touch my toes and decide fairly quickly that it just hurts and so give up on it as an unrealistic and unachievable goal]

I move on to a second banana and decide fairly quickly that it’s too ripe for me and I won’t like it.
[I attempt some strength work but also give up on it as an unrealistic and unachievable goal]

I look at the third banana and figure there’s little point in even peeling it. It will only be like the others, anyway.
[I figure it will l be pointless to buy the foam roller thingy anyway as I’m unlikely to use it after the first couple of days]

I don’t want to waste the bananas so I mash them up, add an egg, flour, vanilla extract, butter, pinch of salt, baking powder, crushed nuts and half a ton of sugar and bake in the oven at 175°C for 70 mins, and await my wife’s recognition of my culinary genius as the sweet smell off bananary bready gorgeousness wafts its way upstairs.
[I spectacularly fail to do the ‘healthy thing’ for a month but jabber on regardless via this blog, believing that somebody somewhere might at least appreciate my efforts]

I slump down in my dressing gown (‘robe’ for my American followers) and cry at my pitiful attempt at a healthy breakfast as I cut myself another slice fistfull of banana cake moistened with a generous helping of a non-specific, generic delicious nutty chocolate spread (otherwise known as Nutella – if they’d like to send me a free sample crate of the stuff!)
[I cry at my pitiful attempt at a healthy Juneathon as I cut myself yet another slice quarter loaf of banana cake… and can’t even be bothered to get changed out of my dressing gown before I go to parkrun]

(That was a photo from last year). Read the link to that post here.

So, here we go. Juneathon all starts in a couple of days. Let the randomness begin!



Extra bit

Now to help maintain the motivation (and there are arguments against this, that I’ll perhaps cover another time) I have also signed up to BOUNTS which is a free service that links to numerous existing exercise apps as well as FITBIT, JAWBONE, etc and basically gives you points for doing exercise that you do anyway. These points build up over time and you can trade them in at the ‘shop’ for various high street gift vouchers.

If you decide to sign up to Bounts then do it soon (ideally before Juneathon to make the most of it) because for a short period we still both get 100 points if you use the link below (normally only 20).

See you in June 🙂

Sign up here to give us both a healthy 100 points to get us going

In (less than*) three weeks, I shall be running the Ashby20 road race.

‘Race’ is a bit grand, really. I shall perhaps instead be running the ‘Ashby20 road get-round-in-one-piece’.

When I entered, I saw it was very close to its limit and I got pretty much the last place. I didn’t even have time to check that the ’20’ in the title related to the number of miles and not something else like kilometres…or the number of hours in this endurance race… Or… (And here’s an idea) that runners set off and then every 20 minutes, the last 20 runners get run over by the sweep vehicle and are eliminated from the race, which then goes on for as long as it takes to get a winner/survivor.

Disappointingly, I was right in my first assumption – it is indeed a 20 mile event. The Ashby20 is also apparently quite hilly and in a rare moment of planning and preparation I thought it would be the ideal pre-marathon event to help motivate, test and inspire me before Huddersfield’s hilly 26.2 miles in April.

I have been building up my miles over the past few weeks in conjunction with the jantastic challenge.  Over the past four weekends I have done 15 miles, 16 miles, 17 miles and then (the day before the day before the day before the day before*) yesterday, I did 18 miles. I have managed each of these runs before breakfast having woken at stupid o’clock in the morning and the best bit about that is that I’ve covered a half-marathon before I’ve even woken up properly and become consciously aware of what I’m doing.  Bonus.

You’d think I’d be confident of managing 20 miles in (less than*) 3 weeks time but  there’s nothing like a long run to make you realise that running even further is going to feel horrible.  I think this is very normal, though… right?

I am still targeting four runs a week with one of those weekly outings being a ‘long run’ but I’m not sure whether to taper before the Ashby20 or not. 

On further reflection, I may not have much choice… I’m off early to go and  see the England/Scotland 6 nations match in (less than*) a couple of weeks and then the day after that I’m playing in our final league tennis match of the winter season… Win, and we stay up… Draw or lose and we’re likely to be going down a division . So I have to be on form for that one – DOMS free! Given that I will not end up seeing my family all weekend, and especially as it’s mother’s day on the Sunday, I don’t really think that a long run is on the cards that week.

Motivation has been strangely wavering. I think I’ve been a bit fed up at the lack of significant weight loss despite massively increased output and massively reduced  sensible input … to the point where I end up thinking ‘stuff it’ (healthy eating) and so I stuff it (unhealthy eating) all in my mouth in very short space of time.

Not so sensible after all.

In other news I bought a nearly new pair of my currently favorite running shoes on eBay a few weeks ago, paid on the day, heard nothing, sent message, was told they’d be posting the next day but have received no shoes and no further contact since then. I’ll get a refund, no problem…but I’d rather have the bargain shoes!
On a more positive note I have been to my favorite place for quality clothing – my local charity shop….these three beauties, as good as new for £11. Thank you very much. 

Changing the subject, while not wanting to compete with my injured co-bloggers, Plustenner and Shazruns, I have assumed for the past few days that I had a splinter/thorn in my right arm, acquired (so I thought) when hunting out lost tennis balls from the pine trees last weekend. I even attempted extraction of the imaginary thorn with now unsurprising failure.  You see, this morning, it was as though someone had painted it lots of pretty colours…

…and at that point only, I remembered running into the metal fence post at the back of the tennis courts mid-way through my match last week.  I don’t recall who won the point**.

So there we have it. I’m still running. I’m not injured (well not running-halting injured), I’m not ill and my mileage has been steadily increasing.

Put like that, things are pretty good really.

*I started writing this post on Sunday and have only just got round to finishing/publishing it today (Thursday). Hence some time edits.

**That is generally accepted code for ‘I lost it’.

Before I start, perhaps a disclaimer is in order.
In the process of explaining what SUSTYM is all about, I have included photos of myself.
Photos that some readers may find offensive due to the fact they contain uncensored nipples.
You have been warned.

Based on the original ancient Japanese method of Susatybi (Soo-sa-tie-bee), the Sustym (Suss-tim) is the inevitable new westernised mutation of the process that has dramatically changed my life following its development from that small Japanese coastal village of Poe-Sing many years ago.

I shall first show you the dramatic results produced over a short period in January 2015 alone…



It is my personal opinion that SUSTYM and SUSATYBI are used far more widely in sports/fitness circles than is currently admitted. I can only guess this is because some people are almost embarrassed by its sheer effectiveness.

It uses processes highly recommended by modern physiotherapists but also contains the wisdom of our elders, fusing them in an easy to apply format that produces the instant results that makes it such a popular method in today’s media culture.

It is applied most effectively (although as mentioned, sometimes tacitly) by nearly all fitness models, but is a method that can also be employed effectively by Joe Public, as can be seen from my photos above.

The easy to follow steps for the original SUSATYBI are as follows:


And more recently for SUSTYM:


In case it wasn’t already obvious, the above photos were taken over an elapsed period of approximately 2 minutes just this morning.

Unfortunately, these methods didn’t help me to a parkrun PB, but I blame this on the fact that I arrived at my parkrun venue only to find out it had (quite rightly) been cancelled due to ice so I sped drove safely within the speed limit to the next closest one (ten minutes away) relying on the fact that lots of people were due to receive T-shirts this week. They rarely start bang on 9 o’clock anyway.

I parked up and then had to run half a mile to the start, just in time to join everyone on the first corner of what was a very muddy, occasionally icy, but certainly totally slippy course.

It wasn’t a PB.

I’m sorry for leading you all on, yesterday 😦
But I really was planning on making it so.

Janathon (day 31) and therefore JANATHON – involving no PBs (but at least a parkrun when one might not have happened) and a great SUSTYM for slimming down – DONE!

Every cloud

Posted: January 28, 2015 in Janathon, Jantastic, Marathon, running
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday, I worked out…

Stop! Hang on…


No I didn’t. That is the problem.
I shall rephrase…

I calculated that if I ran 5 miles a day for the rest of January, I could still make it into the Janathon 100 club, even if my blogging has been a little erratic over this final week.

Unfortunately, shortly after calculating the ‘5 miles a day’ thing, it didn’t take a huge intellectual leap from a mathematical genius such as myself to work out conclude that I could just go to bed and do 10 miles the next day. So that’s what I did…

…well…    …a bit…

The going to bed bit.

Because the next day (today – Wednesday) I had agreed to meet a tennis club member for a set or two at the club after today’s school run.
We warmed up and got two games in before we got massively hailed on…
(…and cue the obligatory photo that never fully conveys how hard and wet and cold it actually was…)


The weather looked set in, so we called it a day there, postponed it to tomorrow (when it’ll probably be under a few inches of snow) and I went for that (somewhat wetter than anticipated) run after all. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.

Not quite enough time for the 10-miler, but I got 9 in at least before nursery pick-up time.

I didn’t enjoy it.

I was tired, I was aching, I wanted to be playing tennis really.

I wondered why I had bothered entering another stupid marathon if I didn’t enjoy running anyway.

And then I thought…”Brilliant! This is close to how I feel towards the end of a really long run, but without the hassle, the pain, the time issues of having actually just run 18 miles or so”. So I convinced myself it was mental training. I needed to keep going, even though I didn’t feel like it, because that’s exactly what I’ll have to do in a few months time, anyway.

Every cloud and all that.

It certainly felt like every cloud that could have passed overhead today, did.



Posted: December 19, 2012 in Janathon, Jantastic, running
Tags: , , ,

To J*, or not to J**, that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the indulgences and puddings of outrageous parties,
Or to take garmins against a sea of fat cells…

And by running, end them. To run—too steep,No more; and by steep that is to say no end of the heart-pounding and the thousand natural shocks that the flesh is heir to (especially if barefoot):

’tis a challenge devoutly to be wish’d. To run, too steep;Too steep, perchance to PB —ay, where’s the bath tub?:

For in that steepness of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this cooking foil, and eaten everything in sight…

Must give us podginess

—there’s the respect that makes calamity of January so long, like.

*janathon – a month long motivational challenge enter here !
**jantastic – three month motivational challenge devised by the good people of MarathonTalk

If you liked this:
1) you’re a bit nuts
2) you might also like this… If you like a bit of random Shakespeare that is.