Motivation: the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
But where does it come from? Where do we draw from when the alarm goes off and we’re supposed to go for a run at the crack of dawn? How do we talk ourselves into an hour long gym session for cross-training or peel ourselves off the sofa to head out on a cold winter’s day?
By now you’ve probably started or even finished filling your 2018 race calendar (I know I have!). In fact, my first race of the year is only two weeks away, and many of you have already raced this year or are going to do so soon. Nothing seems more motivating than an upcoming race, at least that’s true for me, and so I’m partially motivated by the desire of wanting to perform well. The main thing that gets me going though is that fire within. It’s pure intrinsic motivation, stemming solely from the most inner core of my being, regardless of what others are thinking (or doing for that matter.) If I don’t feel that flicker, that flame, then I likely won’t push very hard. Simple as that.
That doesn’t mean that some days I don’t use some extrinsic form of motivation. In fact, I do pull from that source frequently! I mentioned my race calendar earlier. For me, that calendar along with my training log are probably the most important sources of extrinsic motivation, and very important to my desire to keep on keeping on. Oh, there is a race coming up? Well, I better step it up, or else I’ll regret it come race day! You know what else keeps me going? Social media, and I mean my own accounts only. I talk about training a lot when I post and I love it when a race went well and I’m able to write a glowing race review. That feeling is hard to come by if I I don’t train properly and subsequently struggle through a race.
One mistake I used to make is to let the pressure of what others are doing dictate my running. When others were running longer than me, I’d keep going. If they’d run faster, I’d speed up too. I even signed up for races because of peer pressure. And you know what happened? Burnout and injuries. So what’s the lesson here? When you set goals, do what you think is a reachable challenge for you. Stop comparing yourself to what others are achieving or worse – what you think others would want you to do. Goals you set to please others won’t leave you feeling truly accomplished and happy. Set goals that will bring you joy, make you happy. Make sure it defines success for you in running, not what you see everyone else doing.