Today is test day. Every Wednesday is. Which means the stress level at the Beal household is high in the morning before the bus arrives.

Chloe wants to do her best. We review her words as she waits for the bus.

The teacher often gives her the choice – take the test today or if you don’t feel prepared then take it tomorrow. She has chosen tomorrow more times than I’d like to admit.

This morning as we ran out to the bus I said – remember if you get 100 on your test today I’ll take you somewhere fun or out to dinner. Your choice.

She said okay. I didn’t think about it again.

When she came home today she rushed off the bus and ripped open her backpack.

100 A+

She told me her teacher asked her if she wanted to take the test today or tomorrow. She said I NEED to take it today. I NEED to get 100 so my mom will take me somewhere fun or out to dinner.

So the girl did what she said she NEEDED to do and got 100.

I often do this during the marathon.

IF you run this time THEN…… IF you don’t walk THEN…… IF you push through the pain THEN…… Maybe it’s buy a new purse – maybe it’s eat 3 cupcakes instead of my typical 2 – maybe it’s treating myself to Starbucks twice in one day. Whatever it may be that day – helps motivate me. If I don’t achieve my goal I don’t get the prize.

Before B & A Marathon this year I wrote down in my journal. When NOT IF you go under 3:10 you can get a DREAM BIG tattoo. When I ran 3:11 it was one of the first things I thought about. 3:11 is close to sub 3:10 – right? I can get the tattoo? I told myself no.

Create an incentive for yourself – something you really want – or somewhere you really want to go – see if it motivates you to push yourself farther or faster than you thought possible!


Do you use incentives with yourself? With your children? Do you think they work? 


  1. I love incentives, but the problem usually if the goal is too hard I just stop caring about what every the incentive was in the first place.

  2. That’s so cute. I need to work on incentivizing myself! And I think a tattoo is a great goal! So where did Chloe choose to go as her reward??

  3. yay! tell chloe good job, what a cute story :) :)

    and yay for the tattoo!! what font will you get it in!?!!?

  4. YES! Great job to your daughter. Love ‘incentives’—especially with my kids. How about the ultimate incentive?…IF I go sub 3:35 THEN I get to go to Boston with my husband!! :) First, I’ve got to get myself healed up so I can RUN long and dream big!! –thanks for the inspiration, Dorothy.

  5. I use beer as an incentive all the time :) It works best for long runs in the summer. “If I complete my LR in x:xx pace, I can enjoy ice cold beers on my deck”. Works like a charm!

  6. I used to buy a new pair of shoes every time I ran a race. Well, races started to pile up and so did the shoes in my closet! Now, I give myself a time goal for a race and then if I beat that goal I’m allowed to spend XXX of dollars on shoes. Totally bonked on my last marathon and that means no new kicks for me post race!

  7. I like using incentives. We used it when we were potty learning my daughter. We told her she could get a fish if she started using the potty and it worked. There is nothing wrong with rewarding hard work :)

  8. I give my toddler son incentives all the time – primarily iPad time, which i’m not sure makes me a good mum but it definitely works. I don’t think I’ve ever incentivised my running…that’s an interesting concept. Like the idea of ‘if I do a half marathon under two hours, I can get a garmin’. That idea is most appealing!!

  9. What a great reminder! I agree, incentives work so well and it is so rewarding when you accomplish the task!

  10. I ALWAYS use incentives — sometimes too much, I think!

  11. I use incentives, and I don’t cheat. Miss a goal by two seconds? Tough. Try harder next time! I’d be a mean mom I guess!

  12. Great job, Chloe. I don’t ever use incentives to reach a goal, but I do like the idea. I never thought to do that before. I’m training for my first marathon, St. George Marathon, and would really like to reach my timed goal. I’m going to have to think of a good incentive to push myself when the training starts to get really tough.

  13. I think that incentives can work sometimes, but I think it’s important not to rely on incentives. Intrinsic motivators are much more powerful than extrinsic motivators such as incentives, and the sense of accomplishment that comes out of being intrinsically motivated is higher. With extrinsic motivators, the reward is the prize (the incentive) rather than the sense of achievement, and over time, the value of the activity (spelling words right, running a PR, whatever) becomes linked to the reward rather than the activity. Once those prizes have been removed, there is little drive to complete the task well because there is no external reward. I also think that if you can obtain enjoyment from a difficult task or challenge (the actual learning of how to spell a tricky word or being able to run up the side of the mountain) through the sense of achievement then you are more likely to continue to challenge yourself with new things (a higher mountain, a longer word, etc).
    There is nothing wrong with using external rewards every now and then (I’m a teacher, and I occasionally use them – with yr 10 last period on a Friday afternoon, I might bring some chocolates and use them as incentives to get students to do their work) but I think that they should not be used all the time.
    Just my thoughts :)

  14. heck yes.
    Im 42 and a half and they still work welllll for me.
    really well :-)

  15. AHatfield08 says:

    My Mom used to always use incentives with me, and they worked like a charm!! I remember running in High School and thinking about the new swimsuit or shoes she would be me if I ran a certain time :)

  16. I’ll admit, my parents never really used incentives to inspire my brother and I to work harder or get better grades, but in college I’ve found that awarding myself incentives is a fantastic motivator. This past semester I got my first 4.0 in college, so I treated myself to something I’d been wanting for a while — an iPad. Though…it doesn’t really feel like treating myself, since I’m still paying for it! :) I believe that it can be a wonderful motivational tool, if it’s not used all the time. It just makes it more special to me if I don’t reward myself for every little thing I do — I might get lazy that way! Ah, well. Welcome to the Livefyre community, Dorothy, and please feel free to let us know if you have any questions or feedback for us. Looking forward to reading more of your posts! 

  17. RunningMom6 says:

    Incentives are wonderful and I love how running and racing can be applied to all aspects of life. You are a great mom!

  18. Emily Nickles says:

    A dream big tattoo?  That is going to be AMAZING.  Seriously.  Go for it.
    And congrats to your daughter on her big test.  She is also amazing. Obviously.

  19. dreamBIGrunner says:

    I do reward myself after a marathon. I usually allow myself to buy anything I want. After marathon #1 I bought a nice running jacket and after marathon #2 I bought a pair of vibrams. Whenever I use those items  I get a little “you earned this” and that makes me happy :)

  20. racingtales says:

    What beautiful handwriting Chloe has! Yes, I use incentives all the time…for my kids and myself. And I think you’ll be getting that tattoo sooner rather than later. Where, incidentally? 😉


  1. […] guess, there’s some serious inspiration to be found on her blog. This week’s post is about the power of incentives; we encourage you to check it […]

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