How Running Traditions Help Motivate Us

How one small post-run celebration became a tradition for an entire team.


As the holiday season is upon us, we find ourselves celebrating and creating traditions. This morning, hundreds of thousands of runners set their alarms, put the turkey in the oven and headed out to their favorite Turkey Trot. Family members who came over for Thanksgiving dinner questioned your sanity of running on a “holiday” yet were jealous as they watched you fill your plate with seconds followed by a slice of pie and heap of whipped cream. You told them you run the Turkey Trot because it’s tradition.

My training group—Hoka Northern Arizona Elite (NAZ Elite)—created a tradition last fall. We all know the main core exercises of push-ups and planks. They are simple, effective, build strength and stability and are easy to learn.

Ben—one of my teammates who happens to be my husband—was in marathon build up and he had to complete a 16-mile tempo run at marathon pace before Rock ‘n’ Roll Montreal. This workout is a huge staple in our marathon training as it’s one of the toughest mental and physical workouts we’ll do. He was toward the end of his training cycle when the infamous 16-mile tempo was on the docket. The morning of his workout he had fairly favorable conditions with a slight headwind along our 15-mile point-to-point course. The goal was to average 5:25-5:20s per mile. 5:21 first mile—nailed it. He clicked off 5:25 to 5:20s for the next 10 miles. With 3 miles to go he looked inside himself and began to dig deep cranking out a few 5:15s (at 7,000 ft!). Ben crossed the finish line, teammates cheering, body on empty, legs drained and dropped to his hands and knees. However it was not due to total exhaustion. Instead he did a push up that turned into a plank.

What? After 15 grueling miles why did he have the inclination to perform a core exercise?

He was feeling proud and frisky in that moment after crushing a tough workout so he planked. Ben created a tradition. Now after most marathon or long tempos our teammates attempt to recreate the NAZ Elite plank. They take 5-10 seconds of extra strength post workout, but you feel this sense of awesomeness after completing. Is it meant to be an actual core routine? No. It’s simply a tradition. We’ve even created a hashtag so that our fans can partake in their own post workout #nazelite plank.

Try it next time you think you’re totally spent post workout. I can almost guarantee it will put a smile on your face and extra pep in your step during your cool down. If you have a crazy idea after a tough workout, do it. You never know if it will catch on and become tradition.