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Forrest Gump And 8 Great Inspirations To Get You Out And Running

How can the movie "Forrest Gump" inspire you to get off the sofa and on to the cement? Read Allison Plunk's running blog for her take on motivation for running!

There is still time to register! MHA's 5K is Sunday, May 6 at FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights. Go to www.mhawestchester.org

By Allison Plunk

"Forrest Gump" is one of my favorite movies. As a runner, naturally, one of my favorite sequences in the movie is when Forrest decides to run across America multiple times. The movie states that Forrest ran for “three years, two months, fourteen days and sixteen hours.” When asked why the long trek, Forrest answered simply, “I just felt like run-ning.” He inspired individuals without even realizing it. I want to be that kind of person.

Inspiration is not solely found in the movies. Richard Donovan, an ultra marathoner from Ireland, ran seven marathons on seven continents in less than five days in February of 2012 all in an effort to raise money for GOAL, a humanitarian aid organization working to alleviate the suffering of people affected by famine and drought in the horn of Africa. Now I am not suggesting that you run across America multiple times like Forrest or see all seven continents while running marathons. However, I do encourage you to look for inspiration in those who have achieved. I also want to empower you to not only look for inspiration in others but to be an inspiration to those around you.

Even the most motivated of people find themselves in slumps. Making the move from sofa to cement is a tough challenge.but here are the 8 that work for me:

1. Set a goal. One of my favorite quotes that I recite repeatedly when embarking on a new challenge is “Begin with the end in mind” from Stephen Covey’s "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Before a run, visualize yourself finished with the run, feeling remarkable having conquered it. If your goal is to complete a 5K, half marathon or marathon, visualize yourself crossing the finish line. Think about the great sense of pride and accomplishment you will experience having met this great feat. Mentally envision what you cannot at present see with your eyes.

2. Post the goal. To go one step further, post a picture of someone finishing a race or print out your goals (“Run a half marathon” for example). Put it in a place where you see it on a regular basis like a bathroom mirror, refrigerator door or the wall of your office cubicle. This is a great daily reminder and motivator.

3. Run with others. Run with a buddy or join a running club. When I was in college, I ran with a friend on a regular basis. On the days that I did not feel like running, I would go anyway because I did not want to leave her hanging. Once the run was complete, I was never disappointed that I made the conscious decision not to be lazy! Also, many cities have running clubs. Look it up. You might be surprised to find one near you. Running is always more fun with others, and accountability is key!

4. Listen to upbeat music. I never go on a run without my iPod. It just may give you that extra boost you need to keep moving. (See Lori Zakalik's blog piece on this subject

5. Explore. Don’t run the same route each time. Shake things up and discover new places to run in your area.

6. Reward yourself. Rewards will give you something to look forward to when you are done. I am not suggesting you eat a dozen donuts from the local donut shop, but rewarding yourself with something reasonable is fine to do. Personally, I like ice cream cones from McDonald’s! If you are trying to lose weight then maybe a day at the spa is what you need to relax after meeting your running goals for the month. Figure out what works for you.

7. Stay positive. Don’t just think about how hard running can be, but keep in mind all the great benefits of running. Running is great not just for your physical health, but it is also incredible for your mental and emotional health. When I am experiencing the blues or feeling stressed, I like to go for a run and get those endorphins pumping through my body! Research has shown that these hormones cause runners to feel energized both during and after exercise and have great benefits.

8. Sign up for a race. Signing up for a 5K or a marathon is just what you need to stay motivated to run, run, run! Make it a tradition to run the same race every year.

While in graduate school, one of my professors made the comment that “life is all about coping.” You may or may not agree with him, but everyone would agree that life will inevitably bring trials. Running is a great way to blow off some steam, clear your mind, feel fabulous and cope with life’s challenges! Staying motivated is one challenge you can overcome while inspiring others to do the same.

Allison has a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and is a volunteer at the Mental Health Association of Westchester. She enjoys the challenge of running and motivating others to be healthy in all areas of life. She has completed one half marathon, two sprint triathlons and countless 5Ks. Allison recently relocated to Westchester County from Orlando and is looking to put her MS in counseling to good use. Any takers?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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