Marathon #3 for me, the Salt Lake City Marathon, is exactly two months from today. Woo hoo! I am already excited.
I have gotten a few questions lately about motivation. I think that the winter is a hard time to be motivated for a lot of people. Cold weather, icy roads, short days and illness all make it challenging to find times to get a run in regularly. Here are a couple of Q and A's on the topic. :)
"Do you ever struggle with motivation/exhaustion in the early morning? You seem like such a go-getter, but is it ever hard to stick to your plan? I'm also an early morning exerciser, but when I'm up all night with the baby, I do have trouble getting up and sticking to my plans. Do you just need very little sleep? What is your secret?"
Yup, I am definitely tired some mornings. With 12 kids, chances are good on any night that someone is waking up at some point and needing something. Noah is hooked up to a feeding pump and often the alarm goes off at night (sometimes more than once) and I have to mess with it. I rarely sleep all night long without an interruption. And I definitely do need sleep... I have found that I feel much better if I get at least 6 1/2-7 hours and I don't function super well if I regularly get less than that. I definitely do go to bed earlier since I started running. Early to bed, early to rise, blah blah blah. :)
I have found that for me it works to get into a routine so that I... in the words of Nike... "just do it". Yeah, I am tired every morning, and if I had to make the decision at 4:30 or 5:30am if I wanted to exercise or not, it would most likely be a NOT. So every night I lay out my running clothes and anything else I need and set my alarm. When that alarm goes off I just go on autopilot. There is no "will I run?"... I just get up and run.
When I run outside (instead of the treadmill) I get up and run earlier than I do when I am running on the 'mill, and I found that it really helps to have someone to run with. Knowing that someone else is dragging their butt out of bed and waiting for you is very motivating. AND, I do know that no matter how tired I am that I will feel better for the rest of the day if I do run. I figure if I don't get a good night's sleep that I will be tired no matter what, but I will have a better attitude and will feel physically better if I run. I have never regretted going on a run and always, always feel better after one.
"Now, how about a post on motivation???? That seems like your real secret weapon!"
Since I started running I have often claimed that I may not have a lot of natural physical talent, but what I have going for me is that I am stubborn. I don't give up and I don't quit, and I have an inner drive to be better at whatever I am doing. In fact I think that one of my biggest strengths when it comes to running is my mental toughness. I never would have described myself as mentally tough a few years ago, but through running I have found out that I am tough. And I like it.
So yeah, I am pretty darn self-motivated. I was just thinking about this yesterday... thinking about what my motivation is to be a runner and to continually push myself. At first, my motivation was definitely weight loss. Then once I had gotten to a healthy weight, there was this constant, underlying fear that the weight would all come back if I slacked off at all on exercising and that fear was a big motivator to keep running. (I lost over 65lbs... I have a post coming soon on my thoughts on weight loss, eating, running, etc.)
But as I was contemplating this yesterday I asked myself, "If you could get a guarantee that you would never gain a single pound back even if you quit running and exercising today, would you keep running?" I didn't have to think about it long to know my answer. I would definitely keep running. It is a lot "bigger" to me than weight loss now.
I love running. I love "being" a runner. I love doing something just for myself. I love the mental and physical challenge of pushing myself to run further and faster. I love the sense of accomplishment. I love feeling like an athlete. I love racing. I love having a training plan and sticking to it and working towards a goal. I love starting each day with a good hard sweat.
For me, running helps keep me in good physical shape, and it also keeps my mind and spirit in good shape. Maybe I am an endorphin addict?? :) When I don't run, I miss those feelings. I have to make myself take my rest day each week because I could easily run every day.
For awhile I thought that I would be happy just running 3-5 miles a day, six days a week. And then I decided to train for a half marathon. And then someone planted the seed that I could run a full marathon. And I got hooked! I love marathons and I really, really enjoy running races. I found having a marathon scheduled in the winter made me stay motivated when it got harder to run because of weather and darkness. Races are motivating to me... I want to race, I want to do well and beat my previous times, so I have to train. But if I could never run another race, I would still run.
So there are a lot of things that motivate me to keep running. Wanting to stay in good shape, racing, the desire to be faster, time with friends, having time for myself, the way I feel afterwards, etc. are all motivators. But I think the biggest motivator is just that I love running and I love being a runner. I hope to be able to keep running for my whole life.
I think all runners have their own motivations, although I bet there are many we have in common. I bet the same holds true for our challenges.
So what motivates you to get out of bed and get your runs done? Racing? Fitness? A goal you set? The social aspect? Mental health? Something else?
What are your biggest challenges? Weather? Darkness? Injuries? Tiredness? Busy schedule? Just not feeling like running?
Leave a comment. :)
And remember, you have until Friday morning to enter my giveaway for $55!