It's tough when summer weather has been this hot and humid, but the payoff of making it happen is well worth it

My sister has a cat she’s nicknamed “The Great De-motivator.” If you are sitting on the couch and he saunters by, you’ll be graced with 12 pounds of warm, sleeping cat on your lap.

You might have had chores to do, potentially had other plans for your evening, but suddenly they lose their urgency. Once the cat finds you, you lose all motivation. While I can’t use the excuse of a large purring cat, since finishing my first marathon this past May I’ve been plagued by my own “great de-motivators.”

Training for the Pittsburgh marathon was arduous, but I loved the structure it provided. I woke every morning and studied my plan, built my week around my short runs, and devoted weekends to the longer miles. I was tired, hungry, and happy. Crossing the finish line was one of the best experiences of my life.

Immediately following the marathon I wanted my body to recuperate. Considering what I’d just accomplished, I felt remarkably good, but my feet were a bit tender, and I worried about plantar fasciitis. I recognized that I needed some well-deserved time off. Furthermore, my life for the last four months had been all about running, running, running and I was a bit burned out. I’d purposefully scheduled no large races after the marathon, unsure of how I’d be physically and mentally after I’d put my middle-aged legs through 26.2 miles. Prior to running the marathon this seemed like a solid strategy.

However, the lack of a training plan, or a new goal race on the horizon, left me struggling and at loose ends. I was running with a close friend once or twice a week, and still coaching No Boundaries, but my total weekly mileage dropped off considerably. Through most of the month of May I suffered through a case of the post-marathon blues.

Then the heat hit. As of this writing, summer 2016 has had 22 days of 90 degrees or higher. Motivating to run in humid and extremely hot conditions is daunting. Long runs that I’d planned shifted to run/walk slogs. Ugly runs can be intensely discouraging, and tough to bounce back from mentally. I registered for the MVP Half in September, but feel woefully underprepared. Where did that tough marathon runner from this past winter and spring go?

Runners will tell you that the toughest part of a run can be stepping out the door and going in the first place. I’ve never finished a run and said “I wish I hadn’t gone out,” but I have skipped a run and regretted it. The past couple months have been discouraging, and I need to break out of that mindset. What can one do to re-motivate?

Trying something new is one way to reinvigorate. I have friends training for a triathlon. Hearing their stories about the benefits of swimming, I’ve decided to sign up for lessons as part of a cross training program. I convinced my boyfriend to buy trail shoes, in the hopes that he and I can do some trail running together this fall.

It helps to remember that I’m not alone. I know runners who have battled back from injuries, and grown strong again, who have had to go all the way back to square one, doing run/walk intervals to rebuild their endurance.

Getting back to basics will help me grow tougher again. Hill repeats and speed workouts might be hard medicine, but they are the building blocks of strong running. Nothing is more motivating than completing a tough workout and knowing you tried your hardest.

I also need to be a little forgiving of myself. When the negative doubts creep in, the only person who can dispel them is me. If setting a goal and making a plan is what I need to be motivated, then it's time to get up off the couch and find a new goal.

Step one of that plan is looking forward, and believing in myself. Time to re-motivate!