In sports everything stands and falls with motivation. Enthusiasm, passion, or just simply common sense, belong to a series of motives and incentives which inspire us to begin to start exercise routines such as running, cycling, swimming, hiking or lifting weights at the gym.
The motivation to exercise will be the focus of today’s blog.
Our motivation to exercise can dwindle in autumn when the days get shorter and the temperatures drop. This decrease in motivation is a quite common occurrence amongst athletes, especially after a long year of training and racing. Sooner or later we all have a difficult time to overcome the weaker self, something usually observed when training commences following a short break or “off-season”.
Athlete Jo is a beginner triathlete and determined to be undeterred by wet weather and darkness. In order to be better prepared to do this he purchased a book, asked fellow triathletes for motivational tips and hired a coach.
Jo recalls his first training run: “my fingers were numb and with every breath I inhaled cold air which tickled my lunges like razorblades. And, of course, of all days I plan to do my run it begins to rain like crazy”.
Although Joe’s passion for his run rapidly declines as the rain and cold head wind hits his face he maintains a tiny flame of motivation. In the dusk Joe encounters two other runners who like him appear to struggle on a muddy trail and maintain momentum. As the runners run past each other with great caution, words of encouragements are exchanged. YOU CAN DO THIS!! YES, I CAN!!
We all know that sometimes it is pretty tough to make that most important very first step out of the front- door, particularly on a cold & wet winter’s day when the alternatives are almost too challenging to resist: chilling on the coach, a cup of tea, reading a book or magazine, or doing absolutely zero.
But, let me assure you if you overcome that moment of weakness and pick yourself up you will feel a lot better about yourself mentally and physically.
Nature helps to revive our spirits even on a muddy trail. We merge exercise with oxygen and nature.
Now, it doesn’t matter any longer whether it rains or snows! Now, you are able to let go, to relax your mind and just run, swim or bike.
I would like to share with you some useful tips on how to overcome a “lack of motivation” step by step:
- exercise (i.e. run) at different times during the day (if you always run in the morning maybe switch to a run at lunch or at night).
- make plans to meet up with a friend for a run, swim or bike ride and enjoy a natter/chat. Or, if you always run in a group maybe it’s time to run solo. Running by yourself gives you a change to follow your own train of thoughts, pace and improve awareness of your breathing rate and heart rate. You can stop any time you want to enjoy the views.
- start your run from your home or drive to a new trail or forest.
- leave your sport watch at home and just run by feel.
- or, go play “way lottery” meaning follow your nose and randomly take turns on crossroads or trails (just make sure to bring enough $$ to get a taxi ride back homeJ
- change running distance and duration.
- get a training plan that delivers a mix of workouts. This way athletes stay interested in the progress, remain on the path to success whiles having fun and a challenge at the same time.
I think we all have experienced a run when all of a sudden the competitor in us emerges. The marginal faster runner in front of us becomes the target. “At first close the gap smoothly, inhale the runner’s extracted air then run past”.
The motives for running are manifold. Looking at the above scenario we are looking at a runner who actually defines his running experience through performance. The runner must catch the runner in the distance and run past. I think that’s quite common in athletes and probably also a lot of fun, however, my advice is to keep “racing” in training to an absolute minimum. Pick the training days with an “open window” wisely if your goal is to improve your fitness over the long haul and enjoy a successful race season.
On the other side of the spectrum there are always runners who simply like to be left alone and just like to run and don’t mind being passed by a faster runner. All that matters to them is the simplicity of just running. The refinement and renewal of one’s relationship between body and soul, the exposure to weather and the opportunity to daydream can be most satisfying and rewarding.
A runner shares her experience and explains “ I used to jog with my husband but found that way too stressful so then I decided to slow down and run a few steps behind him which works great for me now”. She continues, “Running is like a therapy to me. I find it very relaxing and a very healthy way to release energy and at the same time it helps to recharge my batteries. It’s pretty simple really. Alcohol or the post run cakes aren’t my motivation to go out exercising but instead a glass of cold fresh water with lemon juice. Happiness can be attained so easily. It’s not that complicated”. “I love to take a hot shower after my runs to warm up my cold legs, arms and face”.
We all have heard of a runner’s high. I have experienced many of them since I started to train for triathlons or run events. A runner’s high is a gift and perhaps best described as the release of happy hormones called endorphins that make a run feel effortlessly.
I’m pretty sure that motivation to consistently exercise is maintained once we break through the first initial effort, keep intensities at a comfortable level and follow a training plan.
Sometimes it is just the dog that wants to go outside for a walk that gets you off the coach. And, if you don’t own a dog why don’t you simply ask to borrow your neighbors.