I know that the old addage is that running is 90% physical, 10% mental. But through my four years of running I realized that running is just as much about your mental state as it is about your physical conditioning.
Now do not get me wrong here, you need to put your energy into your training - however if your heart of mind is not into the run, it just will not go as smoothly as you hoped for. I have had just as many bad runs as good runs. And to me bad could simply be a mental state.
Part of reaching your goals is defining them, planning for them, and being ready for the changes neccesary in order to reach them.
Definition of Goals You need to be specific in your goals as being too ambiguous will lead to disapointment in the end. By being specific you say not that you want to start running this year, but rather that you want to start running 10 miles a week. By being more specific you are more apt to reach them, and it becomes more probable that you will stick with it.
Planning for Goals Now after reviewing your goals, you need a plan. For us runners and walkers this usually comes in form of a training or running schedule. Just like anything, if you schedule time for it it inherantly becomes a priority. You cannot just go about yur day and hope that you will have time for the task. in fact, the more you do it and the longer the runs, the more time it takes to get in the distances you have planned for. Running 1 mile takes less time than 5. So in addition to scheduling when you run, you should also have to schedule how long it should take from prep time to shower time.
I have started rituals to help with this. I am a very regimented runner. For races I always arrive about an hour prior to start time to get a feel for the weather, a feel for the crowd/field, and a feel for how I feel that day. I may have planned a PR run, but upon arriving realize that I will be happy with a finish.
All of this takes planning, not just in running itself, but in planning for all the ancillary aspects - mental, mood, weather, etc.
Another part of planning is something a lot of us take for granted. These are the tools of the trade - clothes, shoes, and gear. I would never decide to run 10 miles without some sort of water bottle, GU packs, music, etc. In addition I would not run a summer race in my winter garb.
That is why I say that 25% of running is our clothes. I used to joke with a running partner about how I felt like a runner when I bought new equipment. We would laugh, but now that I have met more and more people, my thoughts were actually the norm.
If you match, or are wearing your favorite running apparel, you tend to be mentally more "on". I find that if I am running in my "real" running clothes I actually take myself more serious and am more apt to compelte the task. That all goes back to planning.
After 4 years of running I have found my perfect running outfit for any type of weather.
SUMMER sports bra tank running lycra shorts (spandex, hate chafing!) coolmax top or tank coolmax socks (anti-blister) water bottle (ice cold)
FALL/SPRING Same as above, only the shorts move on to lycra running capris, and heavier socks. My tank now becomes a long sleeved coolmax top. possibly gloves and a hat if really cold.
WINTER Same as above, only my capris turn into running tights, and I run with a coolmax turtleneck shirt, a t-chirt over that, and either a runnign jacket, or a sweatshirt over that. My golves and hat beefs up a bit, and I also switch my socks to short-woven wool (Dunham brand). Being that my shoes are super mechy the wind passes right through them making for chilly feet. The addition of the wool running socks has completely removed this issue.
I also always dress in layers, giving me about a 20* difference should the weather change, as well as I dress for weather roughly 15-20* warmer to assure that I will not overheat while I am out there.
Dressing is a very crucial issue for runners. No matter what you are comfortable in, COTTON IS SIN. Remember that and all fo your soft spots will be very VERY grateful!
Being ready for the changes neccessary for the Goal Part of reaching any goal goes beyond the definition and planning phases - you actually ahve to be ready for the changes you may need to make in your life.
If you want to run a marathon - you are going to have a lot of trade offs to account for all the time you will be running. Take an average 4-month marathon training schedule. 4 months of speed work, long slow distances, tempo runs, and just overall crosstraining efforts. Plan on reducing the number of nights you go out to the bar, as well as focusing more on your eating habits., Food = fuel. You will feel it in your run if you disregard this fact.
Even in shorter distances, such as the half marathon, 10k or 5k, you are still training. Even if your goal is just to finish - this is a habit you are trying to fall into, and with any habit you need to allow yourself time to adapt. To change. To develop and grow. You must be prepared for the time, money, energy, and desire that this is going to take.
After I broke running down into these three areas, I realized that running IS 50% physical, 25% mental, and 25% clothing!
Once I realized this, my journey got a little easier to continue on with.