Short-term reward for running?
May 10, 2009 8:15 PM   Subscribe

What are some good (non-food) rewards to keep me motivated as I try to start jogging?

Mr. Pterodactyl and I have started jogging and I would like to create a standard treat to keep myself motivated. All of the rewards I can think of are food related and not only would that help defeat the purpose of running, it also seems like it would be a good way to develop an unhealthy relationship to food.

The main activity I use to relax is reading, but I'm not going to stop doing that in order to make it a reward for running, so that's out. Our bathroom is not attractive or relaxing (even by candlelight) so bubble baths are unfortunately not the pleasant experience they were in my old apartment.

Any suggestions you might have for something simple and enjoyable (and cheap -- the Pterodactyl household's riches are all of the spirit rather than the material world) that someone physically exhausted would find pleasant would be very welcome. Thank you!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
A movie outing or rental.
posted by ttyn at 8:18 PM on May 10, 2009

I've actually found spending very small amounts of money on myself that I wouldn't otherwise spend to be a really fun reward for this kind of thing. I can scrape together five bucks for a treat without causing financial distress, but I wouldn't ordinarily let myself spend that five bucks on a tiny watercolor set I secretly wanted. I have a little list of things I want but don't usually feel like I can justify even spending small amounts of money on, and I pick from that.
posted by adiabat at 8:19 PM on May 10, 2009

You mean "as you start jogging," not "try to start," right?

Workout wear is a good reward. Jogbras, singlets, shorts, cute socks.

Mp3 downloads of songs you like to run to - build your music collection. At $.99, do one for every workout, 3 workouts, 5 workouts. You can pass the time running by mentally selecting your next tracks.

Magazines. I used magazines as a reward for quitting smoking - total permission to buy as many fluffy magazines as I wanted to. They're cheap but they keep you busy for hours. I like travel and culture and topical magazines. Fitness mags are obviously a great motivational choice. And even buy magazines for things you are just curious about - surfing, arts and crafts, whatever. It's a good time to explore interests.

"Pay" yourself each time you finish a run. Make it $1 a run. Even the brokest of us can often find $3, $4, or $5 a week. It adds up. You can blow it on a latte, use it for a Netflix a week and a date night, or save it up for a month and spend $20 on something you wouldn't splurge on otherwise. I like earrings.

Does it have to be a treat? How about a goal? Register now for a 5K, work up to running it, show up, enjoy a fun event, get a t-shirt and some nice oranges and yogurt and something to brag about. that's a pretty cool reward, and there's no way to describe the fun of finishing a race. You just have to experience it.

What do you enjoy? You mention that "food related" awards are bad, and I get that, but there's more than one kind of food. If you're aiming to eat more healthfully and lose weight, you're right that a big sundae as a reward is the wrong way to go. But if you're making a lifestyle change, don't be too austere. Make your diet delicious. A "food related" reward could take the shape of a healthy food you look forward to eating but wouldn't usually splurge on - sundried tomatoes, exotic mushrooms, a whole pineapple, fresh organic get the picture. For me, most of making a healthy diet work depends on finding things that are both unassailably healthy and still delicious and decadent enough for the foodie in me. Don't try to subsist on white rice and iceberg - this builds a resentful feeling of deprivation. Reward yourself with really healthy good food.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on May 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

Can you afford a hammock? Awesome relaxation.

Popsicles are more drink than food, can be made of fruit juice, and are really nice.

Could you grow or buy flowers and reward yourself with a tiny bouquet? Those can be really nice pick-me-ups.
posted by amtho at 8:27 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

2nding 5ks. Finishing a race is an awesome reward.
If you're ready for it move up to half or full marathons. Many give medals to those who finish.
posted by simplethings at 8:51 PM on May 10, 2009

2nding buying more workout-wear/related gear. I needed to get more stuff anyway, and meeting my monthly running goals was a great motivator.

I'd also highly recommend the Nike Plus for your iPod. The sensor goes in your shoe, and it tracks your mileage, speed, and calories burned, plus you can set goals or challenge your friends & monitor your progress. (There's all sorts of other little fun things it does too. And I love the charts they make with all this data.)

The Nike Plus thing was probably the single reason I was able to stay motivated enough to *keep* running when I started a few years ago. I think it's only ~$25, and the shoes Nike tries to sell you for it are totally not necessary.
posted by soleiluna at 9:22 PM on May 10, 2009

Swap massages afterward. Makes for a speedier recovery for muscles, and feels good too.
posted by dr. boludo at 9:34 PM on May 10, 2009

Great suggestions. What has helped me the most has been buying new workout gear and registering for 5k races. When I began, I could only walk a 5k, but it was certainly a great feeling crossing the finish line!

One new suggestion I'd add is documenting your runs; when, how far, even where you ran. It is very satisfying to look back at the past week at a filled in chart to see what you've accomplished. I know this isn't really a "treat" but it is an excellent way to feel a sense of accomplishment (especially if you enjoy lists as much as I do!). I even got a cute little notebook to document in, and it's great to look back at how far I've come, how many 5k races I've completed, and how my time has improved.
posted by muxnaw at 10:28 PM on May 10, 2009

Join the MetaFilter Runs challenge over at RunnerPlus! Competition breeds motivation. :)
posted by web-goddess at 11:37 PM on May 10, 2009

I think Miko's mp3 idea is brilliant, and am going to borrow it.

I quit smoking and started running six weeks ago, and while I set out looking for reward ideas, I found there was sort of a trickle of requirements in spite of my hesitance to go the whole Runner Barbie's Accessory Set route - new running shoes after week one (world of difference!), a good sports bra in week two, and then my running clothes started to be too big, so the next reward is trousers that I don't have to keep hiking up every few paces. Mundane and not too motivating in themselves, but they make the next run more of a pleasure.
posted by carbide at 12:07 AM on May 11, 2009

With reference to muxnaw above,

I found using Twitter to be a good way to track my running, only requiring my cell phone to use. ( if you want to see how I set it up)

To be honest, as simple as it sounds, my "reward" for running is a hot shower followed by any leisure activities that I choose for that day.
posted by BearPaws at 4:32 AM on May 11, 2009

Gold stars.

Every time you go jogging you get to put a sticker on your "jogging calendar." Soon you have a long chain of stars. Your motivation is to not break the chain - alá Jerry Seinfeld.
posted by GPF at 6:17 AM on May 11, 2009

I do the reverse. I reward myself first with a good book on tape.

If I'm feeling unmotivated, I put on my MP3 player & start going through the motions of getting ready.

Works like a charm.
posted by MesoFilter at 10:31 AM on May 11, 2009

I'd echo signing up for races as something good to build towards. The thrill of coming through the finish line never seems to fade - and I'm a slow, solid, back-of-the-pack runner.

Also echo keeping a log - I keep one on LiveJournal (having filtered out the friends who asked not to see it*) and it really motivates to see yourself improving.

My own reward - I keep a bloglines feed on Lolcats and only "allow" myself to read the ones that have built up when I've been for a run or cross-trained. Surprisingly satisfying!

Good luck with the running!
posted by LyzzyBee at 11:02 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

My rewards, although for writing and not for running, change constantly based on my motivation. So today, I'm feeling cooped up inside, but if I get my writing done, I get to go buy myself flowers to make my space prettier :) There are cute little potted plants at lots of big stores right now (I got a small pot of tiny mums for $1.25 last week), or find what day of the week your local florist gets new flowers and go the day before to find some good deals. One or two stems of something pretty shouldn't cost much.

Other rewards have been small things I felt I couldn't buy without a reason (cool pencils or post-its, a nifty kitchen gadget, a magazine). Sometimes I pay myself for my work ($1/hour, for instance, or $10 for meeting a large goal) and go treat myself with that money. I've substituted points for dollars, too, and said that after I got so many points, I could buy a yoga mat or other fitness item. Other times, the best reward I can give myself is some down time--a walk in a nearby park, coffee/beer/dessert (something fruity that won't set your fitness goal back) with a friend, a favorite TV show, etc. Sometimes it takes some time to figure out what will motivate you, but don't be afraid to change the reward as often as you need to!
posted by BlooPen at 11:07 AM on May 11, 2009

I don't mean to answer your question by disagreeing with it, but I noted that a) the first treats that came to your mind were food-related, and b) you say you are afraid of developing an unhealthy relationship with food.

I think the right food-related treat -- even a "non-healthy" one -- shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Say you're an ice cream freak. There's something to be said for motivating yourself with, for example, those little bite-size dealys. If you have the discipline to limit yourself to one per run, and to withhold them if you don't run, so that only running earned you ice cream, that would likely be motivational. You could even possibly arrange your running route so that it ended near a store that sold your treat, to avoid keeping any treats in the house.

I'd also argue this results in a healthier relationship to food, a sort of all things in moderation approach. If sweets aren't your thing, you could make a deal with yourself that if you run five (or however many) times this week, you treat yourself to a tasty meal on Saturday night. I'd agree that ordering that tasty meal off a Cheesecake Factory menu might defeat the purpose a little, but there's a lot of middle ground there. You could do worse than baking yourself a loaf of French bread if it helped you stick to your regimen.
posted by troywestfield at 12:11 PM on May 11, 2009

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