The alarm pierced my peaceful slumber as I lay in bed searching for the motivation to run. The sun peeked into the room and I could almost feel the heat and humidity picking up on this summer morning.
I could see my shoes and folded running clothes at the end of my bed that seemed to be competing against my pillow for a decision: run or sleep?
As I groggily sat up in bed, I knew my decision was made.
And while I also knew that there would be moments in the first few miles of the long run where I wanted to quit.
But I have some positive momentum on my side...I got out of bed!
Finding the motivation to run can be a recurring challenge for me. Sometimes it’s the weather…sometimes it’s being sleepy…and sometimes it’s just a strong resistance to the inevitable sweat and fatigue.
This motivation conundrum is natural and a continual challenge, and the key to overcoming it is to learn ways to ignite the willpower within.
On the days when the pillow has won, I usually spend the rest of the day feeling less-than-satisfied with myself and regretful that I didn’t complete my scheduled workout. I compare that miserable feeling to the euphoric post-workout mood of eating breakfast, taking a relaxing shower, and walking around the rest of the day as if I conquered the world. There’s no comparison.
And while the post-run feeling is a big part of my motivation to run, it’s not my only motivator. There are some runs, particularly in the Fall, when I get absorbed by the scenery and the miles just pass on by as I get caught up in a day dream. These runs are terrific!
I usually run a nice pace on these days and have minimal discomfort…adding to my theory that running is largely a mental exercise. There is also the growing list of health benefits of running that keep me lacing up my shoes. Whether it’s keeping my cholesterol and weight down, or just lowering my daily stress level, running is loaded with benefits that seep into all aspects of everyday life.
Sometimes, it’s best to look at a running workout in segments and only mentally commit yourself to the first one. For example, if you can get yourself to just get out of bed then you’ve taken a HUGE first step. You may only run half of what you had hoped for, but that’s a lot more than if you stayed on your pillow!
The next motivational hurdle is that first 5 minutes of running. It’s as if your body has a mutiny and your muscles want to resist getting started. Most times, I just tell myself to get through the first mile and then see how I feel after that. I know that after I get warmed up, I’ll be much more likely to keep on going.
If you can muster up the motivation to run for that first 5 minutes…chances are really good that you’ll keep going to the end of the workout.
Another big push that works for me when I’m searching for motivation to run, is a goal. Goals can be something as simple as a self-induced running time, weight loss, or a running race.
To be effective, a goal should be planned out (timeline); written down (formal commitment to yourself); and shared with those that are close to you (positive peer pressure).
If your goal is to complete a race, whether it be a 5k or a marathon, you’ll be less likely to hit snooze on that training run day. The thought of giving up is enough motivation to run for me. I may not always bound out of bed, but those race commitments are a big motivator for me and my running routine.
Find out what works best for you and use it to keep you going. Motivation can be like a snowball rolling down hill...get it started and you'll have a hard time stopping it!!