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The Dirt with Jeff Browning



Motivation can sometimes seem to come and go. Workouts can sometimes feel like a lot of work. But when you set motivation strategies, it can make it easier to stick to your routine. Altra athlete Jeff Browning is kicking up some dust and sifting through the soil in his monthly series, The Dirt. The series will cover training, running, racing, gear, motivation, and more. 

Ready to dig up some dirt? Let’s get started!






We all go through rough patches when it comes to running motivation. Whether you’re battling the cold, dark days of winter or struggling with prioritizing your workouts when life’s responsibilities demand your attention, here are some tips and tricks to help get you out the door.   



Jeff Browning running in the snow in the Lone Peak 5



Set Manageable Goals 

Sometimes life gets in the way. And that’s okay. Be willing to cut yourself some slack if you’re busy. I’ve always had the mindset that family comes first. There have been times, particularly when my kids were very young, that I could only squeeze in the shortest of runs. I’ve always remembered legendary coach Arthur Lydiard’s opinion that even 15 minutes is of value. Sometimes work only allows a quick lunch run, but every minute counts. 


Let Your Competitive Side Loose 

Everyone has at least a little competitive streak in them. Use it to your advantage. Make it your goal to move up the all-time leaderboard on Strava. No need to be in the top ten (though there’s no harm in trying). But set a goal to better your time on specific segments. Be smart here though. Intelligent training programs recommend no more than 1-2 days per week of hard work and no back-to-back hard days. Prefer to run Strava-free? Simply pick landmarks on your common routes and time your splits. For example, choose an uphill section on a common route and let it loose. From the mailbox to the stop sign. Go! 


Variety Is the Spice of Life 

Don’t just run the same 5K loop day in and day out. Mix up your routine. Explore. If you normally run a flat route, run a hilly route. Arthur Lydiard said, “Hills are the shortcut to success.” I tend to agree. Tired of running the same old trail? Grab a map at your local running shop and discover a new trail to explore. The world is a beautiful and varied place!

Jeff Browning doing pull-ups on playground equipment




Sometimes we need to mix things up. Hang up the running shoes for the day and jump on your mountain bike or skis instead. Go to the gym. You may just need a change of scenery. You’ll still be working on your fitness, but you’ll be viewing the world from a different perspective. And you’ll be giving your running muscles a necessary break. 


Feed Your Brain 

Stream an audiobook, podcast, or crank up the tunes. It’s a great way to multitask. My wife was struggling to get out the door a couple of summers ago, but 19 hours of Jane Eyre gave her the motivation she needed to lace up her shoes. I like listening to podcasts of all kinds, from endurance training and nutrition to politics. Once while pushing hard in the Arkansas 100, I listened to Freedom by Rage Against the Machine eight times in a row. Whatever gets you moving. 


Get Social 

Join a local running club or check out your local running store for scheduled group runs. Some of my best running memories are from 12 years of Footzone’s Wednesday noon runs in Bend, Oregon. I rarely missed a Wednesday. Looking for something more intimate? Call a friend and schedule a running date. The greatest conversations happen while running with a friend.  


Grab a Carrot 

Sign up for an event. Having a race on your calendar is a great way to keep you motivated to get out the door. You paid money and there’s skin in the game. No time to slack. Need a reward? Bodywork is one of the best things you can do to keep your body functioning properly for the long haul. Treat yourself to a massage. 


Be Prepared 

Set out your clothes the night before. Plan your route. Spending a little mental time beforehand makes it more likely you’ll follow through. Keep running clothes in your car for unexpected opportunities. You never know when a group from the office might get together for an impromptu run. 


Run in the Morning 

The early bird catches the worm. Getting your workout done early means you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. Plus, you begin your day on the right side, with all of the benefits that come with physical activity: increased blood flow, improved circulation, and a clear head. I often engage in a strength challenge with my athletes. There’s nothing better than getting my workout done first thing (though admittedly, this doesn’t always happen). 


Enjoy the Health Benefits 

Running comes with a plethora of health benefits, and sometimes it’s helpful to remember just what those benefits are. According to a group of Dutch researchers, running just two and a half hours per week is associated with a reduced risk of dying from heart attack or stroke, reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and a lower risk of developing cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Their study, known as the Copenhagen City Heart Study, found that joggers live, on average, six years longer than people who don’t jog. 


It doesn’t have to be complicated. One of the beauties of running is its simplicity. It’s just you, some comfortable clothes and your favorite pair of running shoes. If you find your motivation is lacking, use these tips as inspiration.  



Jeff Browning running in the Free State 100 - photo credit: Rick Mayo


Jeff Browning is a veteran ultrarunner and ultra-endurance coach. As a masters athlete, he has embraced both mobility and strength consistently in his training to slow down aging and to prepare his body for the rigors of up to five 100-milers per season—some just weeks apart. You can learn more about him, his adventures, and his coaching at GoBroncoBilly.com or on Instagram: @GoBroncoBilly