Last week I came across a post on Inc.com about ways to motivate yourself. I thought these were excellent, and while they were cast in a business frame, I could easily see them in a running and nutrition content. Here is a great quote:
You’d like to think you are going to be just as motivated and enthusiastic on Day 1,672 of work as you were when you first began.
But sometimes we can all use a bit of help to keep going.
I don’t know how often I remember reading very similar words on blogs during spring marathon training season … and while everyone is super-excited and motivated right now for their fall marathons, how long before we could all use a little push? Yeah, I thought so! 🙂
So I decided to pull out ten and apply them to our lives as runners and people doing the everyday battle of balancing fueling and weight control through their eating.
Unlike in business, you aren’t getting paid nor do you have employees – so ‘necessity’ is relative. Actually all you have to do is drive by a hospital and witness someone with an oxygen line taken off so they can smoke to realize how relative ‘necessity’ is.
We don’t NEED to run or race or whatever … or do we? Since many of us use running to feel better both physically and mentally, to be the best version of ourselves. We also talk about how it helps as friends, spouses, parents and employees, so maybe it IS a necessity for some of us!
2. Personal pride:
We all want to be our best, look our best, and feel our best. By eating healthier and exercising we can work at these things – I have said I am the youngest I’ve been in more than 15 years … and while a bit silly, I really mean it.
By correcting the disordered eating habits I relied upon to stay thin and replacing them with ‘eating clean’ (whatever THAT is) and a more robust exercise regime, I am in the best shape of my life, and getting better all the time!
3. Consider the alternative:
For me the alternative is right there in pictures – and I NEVER want to go back … not to the 240 lbs I hit a couple of times over the last 25 years, not to the 275 lbs I weighed in early 2012, and most certainly not to the 375+ lbs I weighed a year out of college in 1989!
The thing you have to ask – what is YOUR alternative?
4. “I’ll show them.”:
Lisa had a difficult time losing the baby weight after our second son – not helped by the very difficult complications, 2 weeks in hospital and 9 months before she was ‘herself’ again. But then she did it – and totally kicked butt! Once she lost weight she had a number of reactions – not all of them positive (and the worst of all were from other women). She once had someone say to her ‘I thought you would have been fat again by now’. Seriously.
So yeah, it seems small and petty – but so are the awful things people say sometimes. And if it motivates you to keep going, that is good enough.
5. Figure out why you are tired:
If your get up and go has got up and went … it is worthwhile to figure out WHY.
Maybe you have been over-doing the cardio workouts, under-resting, not fueling properly, getting dehydrated, not sleeping enough, too much stress, and so on. Figure out your reason and get yourself some rest before pushing it again. If none of those are true and the exhaustion lingers, maybe it is time to see your doctor.
6. Learn from your mistakes:
I always refer back to my utter stupidity leading into my first half marathon, and how trying to diet my way into and through a race was incredibly dangerous. I have become incredibly good at fueling and listening to my body since then.
Then in 2013 I constantly struggled with self-sabotage through WTF syndrome – Way Too Fast (Thanks Cori!). I dealt with that by making my winter half marathon all about even pacing. I feel so much better this year after doing that and have continued working on ‘running by feel’ ever since.
7. Don’t get in your own way:
Several people have written recently about issues caused by being overly Garmin dependent, or by getting in their own heads in any manner of ways.
As the saying goes, running is largely a mental sport, and as such your mind can be your ally or your enemy. Your body can do great things – but your mind can shut it down quickly. I remember the difference when doing planks that helped me jump from 1:15 to almost 2 minutes in a single day – I stopped believing I couldn’t do it. Then I did it.
8. Keep telling yourself the best way to predict the future is to create it:
We all have running goals – endurance, longevity, speed, whatever. Maybe we have a goal race or time or whatever – the main thing is that if we want to reach those goals, make them specific, then make the plans to get them done.
No it isn’t easy – just saying ‘I want to BQ in 2014’ won’t make it easy or possible … but it gives you a goal. Take that goal and make a plan, then take that plan and put it into action – and you will be amazed by the results! Just like none of us started out being able to do a 20 mile weekend run, so too are many of our other goals possible with hard work and patience.
9. Get some sleep:
Sometimes the right answer is to take a rest day. So what? That doesn’t make you a failure even if it means missing your goal mileage for the week or a ‘key’ training run. The phrase ‘recharge your batteries’ is apt because sometimes it seems like we are a cell phone that is in the ‘red zone’ for power and all we are doing is getting a small charge here and there but never really getting out of the red zone. That only works for so long … eventually you need a total refill.
10. When all else fails… keep putting one foot in front of the other:
I feel like this was what got me through the winter – people would say I was an inspiration, and yet all I did was say ‘crap, here we go again’ and headed out the door even when it was -20F. And they said it was THAT action that made me an inspiration.
But that is always my thought – just get out the door. Generally speaking within a mile you will get your mojo and be glad you did it. And if not … cut it short and take a rest day or two.
I get these business motivation articles all the time, and most of them are either too specific or too generic – which is pretty much true about all of the emails I get from Runner’s World and Competitor and so on. But the reality is that for all of us, at least ONCE we can use all of that advice.
Keeping up our motivation isn’t something that is ever a ‘one and done’ thing, so when I saw the article I read it and saw the instant connection to running. We all deal with days when it is a struggle to get out of bed, to lace up and go, to eat right, and to keep it all together.
Articles like the one at Inc are a reminder for all of us – that like everything else, our relationship with running and eating healthy is a long journey, with twists and turns and ups and downs. Like running a marathon you will have moments when you just don’t want to go on, and others when you feel like you are soaring. It is all about building energy to sustain you through the low points.
What do YOU do to keep yourself going during the depths of training season?