No matter who you are or how much you run, undoubtedly at some point in time, you're going to come across a day where you just don't want to run. And if you string enough of those days together, you start to wonder, how am I actually going to keep this up over time if I'm just not motivated? Well, I'm Jessie Funk and on today's episode of Runner's High, I'm going to give you a few tips on diagnosing your issue and figuring out how to stay motivated to run every day for the long haul.
Like most motivation issues, they can't really be solved by just looking at nice motivational quotes on the internet. Those are nice happy little moments you can have with yourself but they just don't fuel you for the long haul. Even if you plaster your walls with all of these quotes, they're just not going to do the trick when you're really feeling down. So, for the purpose of the video, I'm assuming that you've been running for a little while but if you're just getting started, my tips should help you figure out what's going on and how to stay motivated.
When it comes down to it, most of our tendency to procrastinate or trying to put off runs has to do with an anxiety that we're having. If you think about it, boredom, and that tendency to procrastinate, both come from a place of fear or anxiety. So, we really have to get through and identify the source of that anxiety before we can continue to run without any issues.
It's been my experience, at least with my own brain and runners that I've coached that these three things really cover the vast majority of reasons that people procrastinate, and don't feel like running. Things that kinda give you anxiety those three things are monotony, overtraining, or a fear of success or fear of failure. I'm gonna lump those last two together. Even though they're two technically different things, they really share a lot of commonality. So, we'll lump those together.
But monotony is really the biggest thing that is going to crop up for anybody even with perfectly normal mental health, you're eating right, you're sleeping well, training is going fine. If you're doing the same exact thing all the time, most likely, your brain is just gonna throw a wrench in the works and give you problems. As an example, I have a trail near my house.
Well, that trail is 12 miles long, give or take. Okay. That's plenty of running room but if that's all I'm doing, it's gonna bore me out of my mind. And where does that boredom come from? It’s lack of stimulation, which leads to anxiety which leads to procrastination. I don't want to go do the same thing again.
So, if monotony is the issue, you're only doing the same thing, you always run the same route; get out of it. Find something fun. What’s something challenging? That really gets into what is fun, but that depends on you but mostly it's going to be something challenging, something different. If you are always running the country, try running in the city or running in town or do the opposite.
Run on a trail instead of the streets or the streets instead of the trail, find something hilly instead of something flat, go on the track. Whatever it is that you need to do, do the opposite of what you're doing currently to mix up your routine and help break up the monotony.
My second kind of wrench in the works that's going to give you anxiety makes you want to procrastinate is really overtraining. And this sneaks up on the best of us, including myself, because you're doing everything you need to do. You're getting out, you're doing your runs, you're getting all your training in, things are going well, you're making progress, you haven't hit a plateau. You know, everything should be smooth sailing, but for some reason, you just have this gut feeling that you don't want to be there.
I really experienced this very, very hardcore. In my case, with swimming, when I got into swimming early in my triathlon career in the first couple years, I'd worked up to-- I had three days in the pool where I was working out hard all three of those days, two-hour sessions, and I can complete them physically.
I was sleeping fine. The workouts were good. All of the kind of external indicators were there that everything was going fine. But when I would get to the pool, I would be anxious. I did not want to get in the water. I would do anything besides get in the water. I mean, I would eventually force myself to because my goals made me get into water.
That's because what I wanted more than the anxiety I had, but it was clawing at me all the time. All the time I’m in the pool just clawing at me. It’s the same thing with your running. It was a case of overtraining and it was putting my body through too much stress. And that kind of clawing inside my brain was really my body, my brain trying to tell me I'm doing too much.
So, if you've really ramped up the volume, and you're getting this kind of gnawing feeling every time you're going to go run, maybe you need to back it off. Once I cut my ?? 05:14> in half, basically, and said, okay, I'm not going to go do 6,000 meters sets. I'm going to do 3,000-meter sets, which is drastic, and scary, really, when you think about it because as I said, I spent all this time to get to this level. Once I did that, then my anxiety really subsided and my ability to maintain a consistent training schedule improved over time, and so did my race results.
Now, this last one is really a sticky, sticky issue. And there's just more to it than I can really dig into in this video. Because, frankly, I'm not a psychologist. I'm not licensed in that. I almost could have been but I didn't go down that road. So, in this case, a fear of success or a fear of failure is an internal motivation issue where there is something that is holding you back because you're afraid of in this case, most likely change. So, in the case of being afraid of success, then you're afraid of what's going to happen after you get past that point. Maybe it's a matter of you don't know who you'll be or what expectations might happen.
I just had an interview with an award-winning filmmaker on the Smart Athlete Podcast. If you haven't seen the podcast, hit that subscribe button, it's also here on the channel. But she mentioned after her first film, where she won a bunch of awards, she'd never done a film before. Now there's expectations for the second film. It's kind of nice when you live in obscurity.
Nobody has any expectations for you and you can kind of do whatever you want. But once you reach that line that you've been going towards that goal or that race win or whatever it is, then there's expectations of you. So, sometimes a fear of success is because you're afraid of the changes that happen after that goal has been reached.
Now, a fear of failure is kind of similar, which is why I want them together. A fear of failure is saying, okay, well, if I don't reach my goal, then what will I be? Will I be a loser? Will nobody love me? Will my friends abandon me? There's all of these fears in the thought that you won't match up to your own expectations. And the best way to dispel that, at least from my own experience, is to realize and kind of repeat to yourself that, hey my friends aren't gonna care if I don't reach my goal.
My family's not gonna not love me because I didn't reach my goal assuming you have a healthy family life. That's a whole other ball wax, obviously. And this is really kind of echoed by many, many even high-level athletes.
Again, people I interview on the Smart Athlete Podcast often say, that doesn't matter. This is really pertinent in Episode Six with Chris Douglas. It just sticks out in my mind as one of those kind of changing moments for me personally, where Chris who had qualified to be a professional triathlete decided not to. And a lot of his motivation is to pursue his own academic goals, because he knows deep down that his family and friends, they're really appreciative that he can do well, that he is living up to his own potential. But they don't view him differently if he doesn't become a pro and doesn't win every race. What’s important to them is their relationships, and that everybody's healthy, happy, and able to spend time with one another.
So, those three things are really the major motivators for why you're not going to get out every single day. But if those don't hit it, there's actually one more thing you can do. And that is to go back to your why's, your bag of whys. I talked about this in another video. Your bag of whys as I call it is really what people say when they say, find your why and your singular why.
But quite frankly, I don't believe in a singular why as the only source of motivation fuel that you need to have. You need a whole series of things. And we all deal with these things over time differently. Somebody who's young may have a different motivation than somebody who's older. Because maybe that young person can be a professional, whereas an older person that is just starting out is slow and that has nothing to do with their goals.
They're not even concerned about their time, they just want to lose weight or look good for their spouse or make sure that their heart is healthy for the long term for their kids. Whatever your whys are, sit down and think about those things again. When you find the things that really matter, that really matter to you more than that little bit of anxiety that is in your heart, then that helps you get out the door and get your workout in. Again, you have to be careful of that overtraining.
Like I said, my bag of whys fueled me into an overtraining syndrome. So, if that is not the case, if overtraining is not the case, revisiting that bag wise is a great way to figure out how do I stay motivated for the long haul?
Once you figure it out, and you know what your problem is, I would love to hear if I've helped you. Please leave me a comment down below. Let me know what's going on with you. What happened? Did I help you? Did I not help you? What was your motivation issue? How did you get through it? Being able to share these things allows other people to see that they are not alone and that you are struggling with them just like I have struggled in the past. And I'm sure I will struggle again in the future.
We are all together as a community, as a running community. And we are able to help each other by sharing our experiences. So, please leave a comment down below and I will see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.