The Tricky Thing About Momentum…


Image by Warren Wong on Unsplash

When you hear the word momentum, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?  Hopefully, the word doesn’t trigger some horrific memories of Isaac Newton and your high school physics class (and if it does, I’m terribly sorry)!

As runners, momentum can be one of the biggest assets we can use in pursuing our goals. However, it can also be the biggest obstacle to the progress we so desperately desire.

Ergo, to say that momentum can be a double edged sword would be a bit of an understatement.

The Two Sides of Momentum for Runners

For us runners, momentum can be a blessing or a curse. When we have it on our side, everything seems to fall into place, and we’re able to go about our training without any issues. We’re able to start stringing together several workouts in a row, which leads to steady progress with our fitness. Because of the positive results we’re experiencing, we start to look forward to our next run and the idea of simply skipping a workout doesn’t even cross our minds because running is awesome at the moment.

But when momentum goes in the other direction, the exact opposite happens, and we can feel like the world is conspiring against us. Life throws us a curve ball and we’re unable to get our miles in. The next day, a different issue arises, and it’s a little bit easier to sacrifice your run in the name of work/family/more sleep. Eventually, you force yourself to go out and grab a few miles, but every step is a struggle, you realize you’re not having any fun at all, and you wonder why you ever fell in love with this stupid sport to begin with. And the idea of running tomorrow becomes completely laughable.

Maybe you can relate to both of these scenarios? Lord knows I can!

Building Positive Momentum and Using It to Your Advantage

When it comes to momentum, it either works with you or against you. Obviously, having it on your side is the preferred option. So how do you make that happen?

Simple: you have to create positive momentum one day at a time.

Every day you either build it or you lose it.

If you get your miles in, do your foam rolling, spend some time on your yoga mat, and get enough sleep, you’re building the momentum that helps you move the needle in the right direction. If you oversleep, work late, laze on the couch watching TV instead of getting on floor to stretch/foam roll, and stay up to watch “Fallon,” you’re making it harder to progress.

Building momentum is simple. If you do more actions that build it than actions that erode it, momentum is positive and our sport gets easier. The more consistently you build it, the easier it gets to stay on track and the more progress you’ll make toward your goals.

Especially when life happens.   Because let’s not kid ourselves, life is going to happen.

The kids are going to get sick. You’re going to have to carry the load at the office. The weather is going to take a turn. Whatever it is, there will be times when you simply can’t stick to your training schedule and you end up missing a run. If you’ve built up positive momentum, the odds of one missed run derailing you are almost zero.

This makes it easy to get back on track when life inevitably gets in your way.

You Won’t Build Positive Momentum By Accident

You have to choose to create good momentum every day. If you aren’t being intentional, if you aren’t choosing to go to bed early, get your miles in, and do the little things that will help you stay healthy, odds are you won’t build the kind of momentum that will help you stay on track and reach your goals.

There’s never been a better time to start building momentum than right now. Do something today that moves you one step closer to your goals. Then tomorrow, take another action.

Keep it up, and soon you’ll have a tidal wave of momentum at your back, pushing you ever closer to your running goals.

By Denny Krahe

Denny Krahe is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Running Coach specializing in helping runners prevent common running injuries and being able to run pain free. He is also the host of the "Diz Runs With..." podcast.