Want some free energy? Release the beast!
Have you ever watched a sporting event or race, where one of the teams or competitors has a turning point and suddenly they take over the game?
Why is it that some football teams are able to do more in the last 2 minutes than they were in the previous 58 minutes??
And why have some track runners had their best races after being knocked down or trampled in the beginning?
As a running coach, I’ve marveled at some performances and wondered...how can we provoke and harness this productive internal monster?
How do we release the beast?
My coach in high school would try all sorts of tactics to motivate us – from pinning us against our peers to posting individual time goals on his bulletin board. Each of us had a different touch-point, but there was one rather large common ground: competition improved us as a group and we all would strive to be recognized.Recognition could be something as simple as the time-sheet highlighting our best time or as formal as an end-of-season award. Competition and the hunger for recognition are not childhood motivators only. Whether conscious of it or not, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and hoping that others will notice or recognize our accomplishments.
Having others support us in our own personal goals provides a great source of recognition. Try sharing your aspirations with a friend or family member. This will help you strive to meet your goal so that you live up to your word, and it will also give you someone to celebrate with when you reach your goal. Who knows...you may even gain a workout partner or informal “coach” in the process. Sharing your aspirations, trials, and triumphs with others does not have to be boastful. You may even inspire those around you by your good habits which could, in turn, help them attain their goals. Recognition is a simple yet very powerful way of tapping that internal power source. Run a race and you’ll instantly see what I mean. When you run through a crowd of people or by supportive family members, your pace will subconsciously quicken, and yet seem effortless. Crowds have been successfully motivating athletes for centuries. Feed off the energy of others – it’s a great way to keep your routine going.
Competition, by its very nature, is another great motivator because no one wants to lose. In fact, it’s this fear of losing that causes most people to avoid competition all together. But competition does not have to be win-lose...it can be win-win. For example, if you are lucky enough to run with someone with similar ability, you’ll push each other as you train. And no matter who has the faster times, both of you will get much faster in the process! Running and walking clubs are great ways to find people with similar abilities and goals. Join a group and use positive peer pressure without having the fear of failure. Competition has gotten a negative connotation over the years, but don’t overlook its power. You define the rules of the competition and what defines your success or failure. Competition is healthy and it makes everyone do their best - find a competitor to help you release the beast!
While competition and recognition are huge motivators, we all have those unique touch-points described above. We’re all passionate about different things and we each have something that makes us “tick”. I get frustrated when my weight wanders too far from what I think it should be. This usually prompts no snacks or treats for awhile, and I’m less likely to skip a workout. If a photograph of you with a few extra pounds makes you want to get on an exercise bike…post it in your closet. If the number on the bathroom scale gets you mad and hardens your determination…weigh yourself daily. Weighing yourself in the morning may just be all the motivation you need to start and maintain a morning exercise routine! Whatever your touch-point is, release the beast to get you through those tough workouts. Tap these internal energy sources and you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them!
You can find Release the Beast and other motivational fitness information in the December 2006 article of The Bullhorn.