It is fitting that I am writing about motivation during a current slump in my training. I decided to name my coaching business Cooper’s Conscious Steps because I believe that mindfulness is a critical component of both training and racing. Being mindful of each and every step, both figuratively and literally, needs also to apply to your activity outside of running. However, none of this is relevant if you are struggling to take even one step forward.
It is important to identify what is getting in the way of your motivation or desire to run. For many runners, the lack of motivation can come from burnout, which can cause both physiological and psychological stress. It is very easy to get caught up in the more is better approach to training, as well as the FOMO impact on your race schedule. Through our communication I will be able to see signs of burnout sooner than later. However, you need to be honest in all of your feedback so that we can safeguard against any form of over training. Some runners lose motivation because they lack both short and long term goals. Creating those goals will be an important part of the process as we work together. Not having a goal to work towards makes it a lot easier to skip on those early morning cold, dark runs. Your goals are going to look different throughout the year and will require more dedication when you are peaking for a key race. Finally, a loss in motivation can be a result of monotonous training. Being a distance runner does necessitate a daily grind that can wear on most of us. This grind will develop grit, but also cannot be established at the cost of someone’s mental health and life functioning. If this is the cause of your lack of motivation then we need to mix up the training! I like to mix up the terrain or effort depending on what kind of mood I am in that day and if cross training works for you then I can incorporate that into your plan.
I have been a runner for two decades and know the times in the year when my motivation dwindles, so I try to schedule important races around those times to avoid the guilt of not training right. Yes, I feel guilt when I am not training hard! It is important to give yourself permission to have some down time throughout the year or when the rest of your life stress is at a peak. When we talk about a race schedule we need to factor in the times when you feel less motivated so that we are consciously avoiding dips in motivation. If your motivation is dwindling during a tough training block we need to evaluate when and how to push through the rut.
My general rule of thumb for those days when I cannot get out the door is to start with ten minutes. If after ten minutes, I am still not feeling it then I turn around and go home. There are some days when I simply can not even get off of the couch. Those days I reflect on what is going on in my life (that may getting in the way of running) or if it is one of three elements named above regarding my running. Once I identify the reason I create an alternative plan and try my best to get through my day without harboring guilt. On these days, I encourage you to reach out to me, so that we can work through the thought/emotion and get you back out the door when you are ready. I have also found that having someone to meet for a run makes it easier to commit. I do not always like running with other people because running is a time when I can turn off everything else in my life. However, when my motivation is low I try to meet with someone at least once a week and I chose those people very carefully. More on the topic of training partners in an upcoming blog!