This post is for one of my running friends, Suzanne. Suzanne is a fantastic runner, a mom of THREE and has a smok’n hot bod. She asks ME how I stay motivated. I have been plugging along at this for awhile and it would appear by my blog entries and Facebook posts that I am always highly motivated. That makes it sound like I am always pumped up and ready to go… excited to run, bike, workout at the drop of a hat. The Energizer Bunny… not so much.
Am I motivated, yes? Am I always excited about doing it? No.
I saw a quote or something once that said something like.. if I waited to be motivated I wouldn’t get anywhere. Motivation seems like it is some sort of elusive place… how many times have we heard people say (or have said ourselves) “If I could just get motivated to…” _________fill in the blanks. Exercise, eat healthy, run, bike, swim, walk….
You can’t wait for “motivation”. Motivation is not a noun. It is not something that is going to magically appear and make us marathon runners or triathletes. It is a verb – to stimulate towards action (so says Dictionary.com).
So what is it? Why do I continue to force myself out of bed at 4:30 AM a few times a week to get my workouts in or workout twice a day… to spend every night laying out my running clothes (haha see the YouTube video I’m A Runner )
Well, I put some thought into this and broke it down into different “motivations”:
Motivation 1 – Health:
Despite all my efforts to get fit ( I am I doing pretty well) I still have fat to lose. That stuff doesn’t melt off on it’s own. Vigorous, daily exercise is needed and must be combined with healthy food choices or it doesn’t work. You can’t leave this stuff to chance. It has to be planned and prepared for in advance. Plus, I want to be around a long time… granted, I could get hit by a car on my bike, but I do not want to end up being 70+ and feeble… sitting in a dingy room staring at the walls. I want to be out enjoying life.
When John and I went to the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago we decided on a whim to hike to the bottom at back up in the same day. For one, I am so happy I can do that… I have built my fitness to be able to do anything I want to do. But, more than that, one thing I saw on that day were a lot of retirees blowing past me on the hike out. It was humbling but exciting. This is what I have to look forward to if I keep this lifestyle up. I can guarantee those seniors were not waiting to get motivated their whole life. They were too busy living it!
If you need a visual… if you haven’t seen it already, you need to check out the cross section of an athlete’s leg.
Motivation 2 – Social:
After my daughter left for college it hit me that I needed to find something to do. I tried various things… “hobbies” but nothing was exciting to me. I can’t even tell you how many books and magazines I have bought over the years looking for something to do. One time John said to me that I spend more time reading about things to do then actually DOING. That was pretty much the start of this blog… my goal – START DOING. I always wanted to be a “runner” and I now consider myself one. But the best thing about running is that it is not REALLY about the running. It is about other things. My favorite times are with my running friends (now, most of them my FRIENDS… whether we are running or not). Early mornings, up hills, during good times and bad. Scarlette (my very first running partner and the person who introduced me to so many wonderful people!) just wrote a fantastic post about this very feeling on our Tryon Running Club blog.
Running has opened so many doors for me and introduced me to so many people. When I ran my first 10K, the Cooper Rive Bridge run, I went to the expo and got an autograph from Bart Yasso and he wrote me, “Never limit where running can take you.” I haven’t and it has taken me a lot of places. It opened the door for me to meet my coach, Katie Malone, and learn how to cycle… and meet Cynthia, who is trying to talk me into swimming… you never know what life will bring you until you put yourself out there!
Motivation 3 – Challenge:
I love to push myself and see what I have in me. Can I run faster? Can I run longer? Ride better? Hike higher? That is what these last two years have been about… finding new challenges. When you have a goal you have to proclaim it and go after it. It is fun! It gives the day to day stuff a bit of meaning. My days are more than work and cooking dinner now… I have goals to achieve and that keeps me going. For me it is not about being the “best” but for (thank you Tony Horton)… “Doing my BEST and forgetting the rest”.
Also, something that is part social and part challenge… I have a lot of running buddies that are much faster than me. I would LOVE to be able to keep up with them one day! (Well, maybe a lap or two with Mandy and Curtis)
On the bike I don’t want to be the straggler! I don’t want to me the one people have to wait for… some group rides are called “no one left behind rides”… that’s me right now. I would like to be able to keep up with the pack!
Motivation 4 – Completely selfish and egotistical:
I like to think that I do my part to inspire good health in others. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t, but I like to think that maybe if people see me doing “scary” things that they will, too. I truly do want my friends and family to be healthy and active and if I can encourage that my doing it myself it means a lot.
I also like having something to say…. I like doing things and when the topic comes up at work “what are you doing this weekend’ or on Monday’s “what did you do this weekend?” I really do like saying that I DID SOMETHING. Not to “impress” anyone but to be able to say what I did. I like to say I ran 16 miles, or rode my bike 25 miles. Again, me saying these things is not for THEM, but for me. Sometimes I say these things and cannot believe I did it myself. It feels good to know what I have done and accomplished. I like to have the stories that go along with the adventures and to be able to relive the good times with the people I shared them with. It is fun and that is very motivating.
The key here is that I found things that I like to do that keep me going… long term. Yes, some days I do NOT want to get outside and go to the track and run. I really don’t. Somedays I just want to cry because it is hard. In fact, I had a little breakdown the other day… I work so hard and will always have to work hard. For some people it is easy and comes naturally and that sucks sometimes. But, it is not about them, it is about me and I always have to keep that in perspective.
Find what you like to do and motivation will be easy.
P.S….. one last thing (This is for you, Melissa) Despite all of that babble… it really is mostly about the medals. I love getting race medals and they do not give them to you if you don’t participate 🙂
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