Maintaining the Motivation to Run

We have all heard the phrase, “Mind over matter,” but is it true? How much influence does the mind have over our physical abilities? When it comes to motivation and performance, the answer may surprise you.

Running requires motivation.

A person with a superior athletic ability is often described as a natural. It is undeniable that we are born with different aptitudes and physical and mental capabilities. Some people are naturally gifted. However, those who achieve true greatness do not do so on talent alone. They also possess the motivation to do so.

When it comes to running or any kind of physical activity or sport, we tend to focus on the physical training and neglect psychological aspects that may have an even greater impact on our ability to reach our optimal performance. One of the most important aspects we sometimes overlook is motivation.

Motivation is all Mental

Unlike physical ability, opponent capabilities, weather and other outside factors, motivation is a fundamental and necessary part of performance that we can control.

In ‘The Complete Guide to Sport Motivation,’ Ken Hodges writes, “motivation is primarily made up of the direction and intensity of effort.”

With running or any other activity, motivation is vital for success. Without motivation, you won’t put in the time or effort to consistently perform. Without motivation, you may not run at all.

There are natural deterrents to one’s optimal performance. A few examples are fatigue, life’s distractions and negative emotions. These may sound obvious, but often, motivation is the only way to prevent these normal occurrences from becoming formidable obstacles.

The most effective form of motivation comes from within, and it affects everything about your performance down to mundane details like what you eat and how much sleep you get before you run.

People have different motivations. Some people want to master a skill. Other people want to excel at the skill in comparison to others. For others, motivation is more social. Most of us are influenced by each of these to varying degrees. Understanding what influences our motivation is helpful for harnessing it.

 To understand your motivation as it pertains to running, ask yourself why you are running. Once you answer that question, set some goals, both short-term and long-term to coincide with your purpose. Devise a plan to achieve those goals.

How to Maximize Your Motivation to Run

Hodge’s book suggests strategies for enhancing motivation that can be applied to running. Some of these suggestions and ways to incorporate them in running are to structure practice (runs) to improve skills, keep it fun and make it social when possible.

He also suggests defining your own success. For instance, set personal records. On the flip side, don’t be too hard on yourself. Hodges believes that mistakes should be viewed in a positive light. This makes sense in moments of reflection, even if we fail to see it in the moment. Mistakes are always an opportunity to make adjustments and improve performance.

When it comes to maintaining motivation, long-term goals are incredibly valuable. Know why you should continue to work hard. Be positive about your efforts. Realize that each time your shoe hits the ground, you are literally one step closer to your goal.

We all have days where we struggle with motivation. Excuses are always available, but the truth is, you will feel better if you force yourself to get going. Sometimes motivation follows movement.

The best motivation to battle excuses to avoid doing something comes from within.

Ideas to Improve Motivation

As we stated above, motivation varies among individuals, and you are likely motivated by several different factors. Consider how you typically lose motivation. What can you do to prevent it from happening again?

Professional runner and author Jeff Gaudette recommends creative ways around threats to motivation. For instance, if you want to run in the morning but feel tempted to stay in bed once the alarm wakes you up, try setting out your running attire the night before. Gaudette says that you could even set the clothing and alarm clock/phone in another room, forcing yourself to get out of bed.

Know what threatens your motivation and what sparks your motivation. Here are a few ideas, depending on what gets your motor running, or in this case, what gets your feet moving.

Dress for Success

If you enjoy clothing, shoes or accessories, consider buying some new running apparel that will get you excited to get dressed for a run.

Goals for the Soul

Keep your goals in mind and track your progress. Set small, gradual goals to assist you and track your journey while you are on your path toward attaining your long-term goal.

The Coach Approach

Speaking of goals, running coaches are trained to help you determine what your goals are. They will then form a plan to best achieve those goals. Motivation is much easier to maintain with a running coach.

An effective running coach will help you keep a positive attitude, which will naturally enhance your motivation. A running coach will come with a schedule, which will make it more difficult to succumb to tempting excuses not to run.

A running coach can teach you how to eat to provide your body the fuel it desperately needs to fight fatigue. Nothing zaps motivation quicker than an injury, and a running coach will also teach you how to run properly, to avoid injury.

If you are in Jacksonville, Florida or the surrounding areas, our coaches at PRSJax would be glad to help you figure out your goals and keep up your motivation.

Running Coaches from PRS

Eyes on the Prize

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself some incentive in the form of a reward. Whatever goals you set, reward yourself for maintaining your motivation.

A Group Groove

Running with a group is a great way to rediscover the fun of running. While the most effective motivation comes from you, it helps to have supportive runners cheering you on and keeping you on a regular running schedule.

If you are local to the Jacksonville area and are interested in joining a running group, consider PRS Running Club.

PRS Running Club creates motivation for its fun members.

If you aren’t local and don’t have a group nearby to join, there are options online. Most runners are incredibly supportive both in-person and online, so you don’t have to fly or run solo.

Health is Wealth

Runner’s high is not a myth. Running will put you in a better mood. You will also reap the benefits of good health. Running improves heart health, builds strength and endurance, burns calories and can help you lose weight and subsequently maintain a healthy weight.

A Run Should be Fun

No matter what motivates you, the best way to stay motivated is to remember that a run should be fun. Don’t be so strict with yourself that you forget that running should be something you want to do, despite the excuses that sometimes whisper otherwise.

Some days you might need to change your routine or pace to keep things fun. Consider changing locations or times of day for your runs to prevent yourself from succumbing to boredom. Boredom is an enemy of motivation, but fun is a friend.

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