The Motivation Jars

I met Ruth through Obstacle Racing in 2014. She has a job, family, kids, like many of us do. And surely enough life gets in her way too. Yet she has found a way to fit Obstacle Racing, Cross Fit, Running and more in her life. She has kindly agreed to write about the “motivation jars”, which I thought is an interesting way to get those 2-3 weekly runs done. 


My story to become a runner

Throughout 2015 I wanted to become a runner, same as the year before.  At the end of the year I looked through my Nike + app to find that I had logged the huge number of 44 runs in 2015, that wasn’t all runs thankfully, but for someone wanting to be a runner its pitiful.

I’ve always wanted to run a reasonable 5k time, and for me under 40 mins would be reasonable, my closest being 40:19 in 2014.

Not saying I can’t run, I can run-walk for miles, and think nothing of signing up for obstacle course races of any distance, including a half marathon distance.  But if you ask me to run a half marathon I will refuse as I can’t run that far.  Silly, I know, but no-one cares if you walk an obstacle course race from start to finish, and that does tend to be my default pace in such a race.

The other thing about running is that I know my body responds well to it in terms of weight control, which as a lady of advancing years I struggle with it year on year.

I’ve seen challenges to run 365 miles a year, I failed when I tried. Others where you pay yourself money for every run, but that doesn’t motivate me either.

Challenges aren’t a bad thing for me, but they are often daily things I fail as my life can be a bit erratic.

You see, I am normal, I have a house, four cats and a husband that sometime works away.  I have a full time job, in which I run a 5 person team that is critical to business functions, and if there is any issue/holiday/sickness that need additional support then that falls on my shoulders as well as my normal stuff.  So yes life gets in the way, sometimes. It does for everyone.


The challenge

So if I am going to set a challenge or goal it has to follow some basic rules

  1. Be achievable
  2. Be realistic


A friend of mine ran every day during December, setting a minimum distance of 1 mile.

Could I do that during January?  No, whilst it is achievable, going out the door for a minimum of 1 mile is very doable, but every day????  I have no idea what January is going to bring me at work, and I am not a runner.  Plus running is not my only exercise, I do Crossfit and sometimes the DOMS from that means that walking can be a challenge in itself, so saying I will run every single day is not going to happen.

But I wanted something for 2016.  At Christmas I got myself a Vivosmart HR so that I can track my heart rate and steps done each day, and I can also track runs easily.  Nike + relies on my entering the details in after the fact a lot of the time.


The Motivation Jars

I saw an idea on a group of American women, two jars, one with beads in, one empty.  You set something you want, and if you do it then a bead moves from the full jar to the empty one.   Now that sounds a plan.

Dec 31st shopping trip and I bought myself a bag of glass pebbles, the type used in flower decorating, for the bottom of vases.  In the bag are 120 beads.

I knew I had two suitable jars at home already. One I labelled ‘To Do’ and one ‘Done’.


So how to fit 120 beads into a challenge that follows the rules.

  • 31 would be for January – but I’ve already failed in my head at that one.
  • 120 is 3 months – if I can’t do a single month then 3 is no chance
  • 120 is 10 x 12 – ooooohhhh!!! Now that’s sounds interesting


So here is my challenge

  • A run is anytime I go out the door and run/amble over 2km (my watch is better in metric)
  • Any Crossfit WOD which includes running totalling over 3km counts as a run.
  • Every run, moves a bead from the ‘To do’ jar to the ‘Done’ jar
  • Any race is also moves a bead, regardless of the distance.
  • Also to the ‘Done’ jar I will add little post-it notes with milestones/quotes/bits of interest on them, then at the end of the year they will be nice little reminders to read back and see what I have achieved.
  • First post-it note – my weight at 1st Even if that doesn’t change, the runs and the other achievements will show me how far I have come.


It works out as 10 runs a month, or 2 runs a week with the odd additional run thrown in for good measure.

That is both achievable and realistic, and to ensure maximum benefit to my well-being then the treadmill does not count, all runs are to be outdoors.



About Ruth


At 48 I work as an assistant accountant for a multi-million pound manufacturing company.

Through my life I have done some great things, including going to university to study environmental forensics at 37, getting a Masters in Water Pollution whilst working, and scuba diving some of the most amazing sites in Europe.  I’m a cancer survivor and have a family history of heart disease, which I try to keep at bay with mindful choices.

Notable personal sporting achievements representing the country at 47 in the OCR World Championships, taking part in a 24hr running race and toeing the line at an Ironman.

I am an active contributor to the UK Mudd Queens, an online female group based around support and encouragement, I am also blessed with a supportive husband who also strives to be healthy and fit, so when I want to do things there is an automatic support system.

Current desires are to keep healthy, enjoy running, have another go at a 24 hr race and do better, get my weight and hormone responses under control.

And most of all to live and enjoy life.