Getting properly motivated to run (or race), is an emotional state that veteran and beginning runners all struggle with at times. Simply put, that motivational state can often be elusive. Especially in the doldrums of our brutal summer when even an easy run can feel like a chore.
Still, motivation is the lifeblood of all training and racing. Without it, the simplest run is difficult and a race can be agony. It’s no wonder that the highly motivated runner, is almost always a highly successful runner.
Motivation is the measure of how much (or how badly) an individual runner wants to achieve a specific goal. Obstacles don’t get in the way of achieving whatever that goal is. But for every runner, there is a different source of motivation. The key is finding what works for you.
If you find that you lack motivation to run (particularly during the summer), it’s important to ask yourself why you are even running. Is it to get physically fit, lose weight, accept a challenge, build confidence, learn a skill, or to compete and win your age group? Finish a marathon?
The point is you need some good reason to run. Without one, you’ll undoubtedly be under motivated and lack all resolve to run.
Everyone has different reasons to run (or should have) and you may find you run for a combination of reasons. But the important aspect is you don’t want to find yourself wondering why you are working so hard toward a particular goal.
Reinforce why you train and visualize the outcome and rewards you will receive.
All too often runners will say, “I am waiting to get motivated.” The implication is that another person or coach, mentor or friend will somehow motivate them to new heights. But real motivation must come from within you and not from someone else.
This is one reason why children who are pushed too hard by crazed, overzealous parents (or coaches) often lose interest in a sport. The child has lost the internal motivation to play because it isn’t fun any longer and generally they quit soon after.
One external motivating influence that often works is inspiration. Inspiration is an emotion that causes us to aspire to even greater levels of achievement. It reinforces our own personal reasons to continue working toward our goals.
Runners are often incredibly self-motivated individuals in work—and play. As runners, we are often motivated by accomplishment/the attainment of realistic goals. Once this has been done once or more it will spur you on to greater and greater heights.
Remaining motivated is at its most difficult when you are far from your goal event, such as a marathon six months down the road. This is when you have to maintain your long-term focus by setting short-term goals while still working toward the ultimate goal.
That’s why races interspersed throughout a long marathon training schedule are usually a good thing to keep you motivated as a reward for all the training.
Another good way to stay motivated during a long marathon training period is to join one of the numerous marathon training groups in Austin. Other runners who are training for the same goal and race are often great sources of motivation.
Even so, motivation can be a fleeting emotion. It comes…and goes. Fatigue, stress, emotional issues, overtraining, hot, humid summer weather, time constraints and injuries can all conspire to reduce our motivational levels.
But that’s OK. Sometimes, all it takes is a day or two off from running to rest and refocus and restore your motivational mojo. Running should add to the quality of your life, not hinder it.
Certainly, a positive mental outlook supports and enhances motivation. Avoid negative self-talk and doubters; focus on the positive and surround yourself with supportive, upbeat people who encourage and celebrate your running.
Staying motivated for a long period certainly isn’t easy, but if you remind yourself why you are training, look to your sources of inspiration and keep a positive mental outlook you should fine.
Realize that motivation comes from within—and is boosted by accomplishments.
Motivation, just like training, is a building process. Each goal you attain builds self esteem and confidence and this fuels increased motivation for your next goal.