I’ve had several discussions this week with friends about motivation, not just in running , but about motivation in all aspects of life. So, as usual, it got me thinking about it. About how we so often let it define us or excuse us from something we don’t want to do. Motivation is like that popular girl we knew in high school, the one we all wanted to be friends with. Then, when we were actually invited into the magic circle of the pretty, popular girls, we usually learned that she wasn’t who we thought she was, after all. She was mean and two faced.
Motivation is a lot like that. She’s a mean, fickle girl who flits in and out of my life with reckless abandon and complete whimsy. She sometimes wakes me up at 4 am for a run, urging me to slap on my shoes and head out to get the best of the day. She sings praise and worship song sofly in my ear to get me going, then slams me with Queen, Steppenwolf, and Jonah 33 to get my heart pounding. We’re breathless and sweaty by the end, but we both feel wonderful and ready to face the day. Then, the very next morning (usually spin class morning), she sleeps in and encourages me to do likewise. Last summer, when I was training for one of those life defining moments (the NYC marathon), she completely left me to battle the long runs in the Mississippi summer heat alone. She packed her things and went on an extended vacation in the islands. It wasn’t motivation that kept me going that long, hot summer. It was something else, maybe grit and determination, or maybe the thought of having to defer NYC again, or worse – not finishing something I had started. Whatever it was, motivation didn’t play a big part in it. She flitted back in after I spent a long weekend training with Jeff Galloway in Blue Mountain, Florida. She was all thin and tan from her extended vacation in the islands, but lucky for her, she stayed with me most days until marathon training was finished and the bright lights of NYC finished up her job.
So what keeps you going when you really don’t want to? It’s different for all of us, but I’ll share some of my tricks here in the hopes that you can make one of them your own.
- Mix it up. You may be getting bored with your workout, so try something different. It can be as simple as a new route, or you may want to add some cross training in. Cross training will become your best friend if you’re in this for the long haul. It helps with burnout & injury prevention. I do spin class a couple obscenely early mornings a week, and now that the weather has warmed up, I’ll include some swim days as well. To call myself a swimmer or cyclist would really stretch the boundaries of those words, they’re just something I do to keep it fresh and keep me off the injury list. Love yoga, just don’t work it into my week like I should.
- Sign up for a race. That will get you focused quickly. Nobody wants to be the last one across the finish line, although somebody has to be.
- Get techy. Mother’s Day is coming up, ask for an new toy. Some of my favorites are my Garmin Forerunner (lots of different models, price points, & bells & whistles), and of couse my Ipod. If you don’t have those, they may breath new life into your plan.
- Read something inspirational. I follow several blogs (see my blogroll in the right hand column), read a couple of different running magazines (Runner’s World and Women’s Running are current faves), and usually have a running book going at any given time. I’ll be happy to offer a few suggestions, or even loan you one of my favorites, if you like.
- Find a workout buddy. This one doesn’t really work for me, I like to run alone, but lots of people find the accountablity of knowing someone is depending on them for their workout makes a big difference.
- Join a running group. There are lots of great clubs and groups you can join, in our area The Pine Belt Pacers are a great group who sponsor lots of races & have group runs throughout the week. If you’re not into that, I belong to an online group called Daily Mile that I enjoy. There are a lot of local runners on there, and it keeps up with my stats for me, which is always fun, especially at the end of the year. Kind of like Facebook for runners, but without all the drama.
- Find a mentor. There are lots of people ready, willing, and able to help. With varying degrees of proficiency. I’m always available for a chat, and I work cheap – buy me a cup of Starbucks & I’ll talk your ears off. Remember, you get what you pay for; but, if it’s possible to do it wrong, I probably have, so you can at least learn from my mistakes. I can’t recommend Jeff Galloway enough, he has lots of books available, and does workshops around the country at some pretty cool spots. Really neat guy, too. He’s been running longer than I’ve been alive, and that’s saying a lot. A friend of mine, Mary Williams, offers a great workshop locally (if you’re in South Mississippi) – you can check it out on her blog here. Both those links are on my blogroll if you don’t have time right now.
I hope something here speaks to you & helps you if you’re in a rut. I think that what helps me the most is remembering that I’m a grown up now (sigh), and, occasionally, in real life, we have to do things that we’re really not in the mood for. Make your running a habit so that when those days come , and they will, it will come automatically. Same in running, as in life. Happy trails, guys!
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