Running motivation is all the topic of discussion—especially around the new year when everyone sets out with grandiose resolutions. You will see loads of new articles, social media posts, and blog posts about how to get motivated to follow through on your health and fitness goals at the beginning of the year. But can you imagine having running motivation that sticks with you for life?
Since 2020 is not only a new year, but also a new DECADE, let’s take a different approach to motivation. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Let’s discuss the key to running motivation that will stick with you for life.
Running Motivation is Inconsistent
Let’s start with a fundamental truth.
CONSISTENCY = RESULTS
Without consistency, you will not achieve results.
You might be lucky enough to see some temporary results such as improved mental clarity, more energy, or satisfaction after one or two runs. But unless you repeat those actions, you won’t see those results last and you definitely won’t see the long-term results such as improved fitness, a trimmer waistline, increased strength, and faster running times.
The problem with waiting to be “motivated to run” is that motivation won’t always be there.
In fact, true motivation that moves your butt out the door and down the street is fairly rare. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not always jazzed up to lace up my running shoes. There are many times when I would rather not. The number of times I would rather curl up on the couch or stay in bed often outnumber those when I’m ready to jump up and get to running!
Running Motivation Might Get You Started…
When you do get all jacked up on motivation, use that motivation to develop a plan.
Say you sign up for a half marathon. When your motivation is high, develop a training plan or enroll in a course to help you succeed with your goal.
Set your non-negotiable actions to achieve your goal. And give yourself some grace when you set these actions. Allow yourself some room to overachieve on days when you ARE feeling the motivation.
… But Discipline Keeps You Going
The real key to consistency is DISCIPLINE.
Discipline is what keeps you moving when you can’t find the motivation.
True discipline is says, “I really don’t feel like running 3 miles today, but my training plan says 3 miles. So I’m going to lace up my shoes and go run 3 miles.”
The truth is…you don’t need crazy amounts of running motivation. You need just enough motivation to get you started. After that, you need large amounts of discipline!
Discipline isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. It helps you stick to your plan and attain the long-term results you are looking for.
This might be some tough love, but if you can’t find the discipline, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself WHY. If you truly want something bad enough, you will find the discipline to follow through on the actions to get you there.
Discipline is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. The stronger your discipline gets, the easier it will be to stick to your plans.
Related: Fitness Integrity: Align Your Actions With Your Goals
Over Time, Discipline Gives Way to Habit and Identity
After you follow through enough times using hard-earned discipline, it gives way to something else. This is when the compound effect kicks in. Your small actions of discipline repeated over time take on something bigger.
What is this something bigger?
Once you do something long enough, like running several days per week, it becomes part of your normal routine. You go for a long run on a Saturday, because that’s what you do on a Saturday.
When habit kicks in, you don’t need motivation to go workout. You just go workout because you have a set time to hit the gym or go for a run. It’s like a regular, recurring appointment with yourself.
The Final Stage: Identity
Motivation and discipline can get you through one race. They can inspire you to sign up for a race, set a training plan, and complete the workouts on your training plan to get you ready for race day.
But running motivation and discipline alone won’t stick with you for life.
Habit gets you to sign up for another race. After all, you’re feeling pretty good that you just followed-through with your goal. And heck, following the training plan gave you some pretty nice health results as well!
After you follow that habit a few times, running becomes part of your identity. Even if you don’t have a race on the calendar, you still have a rough outline of a training plan and go on regular runs. You complete a long run on the weekend, because you are a runner, and runners to a long run once a week.
You go for a run after a stressful work day, because you are a runner, and that’s what runners do. Your alarm clock goes off early in the morning and without thinking, you roll out of bed, put your shoes on, and head out the door in a rhythm, because it is now part of your identity. You couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Related: 6 Surefire Ways to Build Your Running Identity
It’s Time to Quit Quitting
Can you imagine what it would be like for running to be part of your identity, where you automatically head out for a run without needing the MOTIVATION to do so?
If you want that for yourself, then it’s time to quit quitting.
What do I mean?
I mean you have to be DONE with the whole “falling off the wagon” thing. You have to be DONE with “letting life get in the way.”
I’m going to let you in on a secret: My biggest fear in life is living a mediocre life or falling into a trance where I live by default and let others control my priorities.
I run because it makes me feel alive. It adds life to my days, not days to my life.
Running, your health, and your fitness NEED to be a priority.
You can decide today. Be DONE with quitting and starting over.
Starting over is HARD and it SUCKS! The hardest part about living a healthy lifestyle is the starting over part.
You know what keeps me going and fuels my discipline when I feel like quitting?
I think about how much it SUCKS to start over. I realize that even though it feels hard to get out there today, I just have to keep moving. As long as I stay in motion and don’t let myself go more than 2 days without a workout, it will easier to get going again on my next workout.
The key to running motivation for life is simply to stay in motion.
If you keep going, no matter how short or slow and easy your workout is, then it will be easier to find the motivation to do the next workout. If you keep moving, then inertia will work in your favor instead of against you.
I used to skip workouts because I wasn’t in the mood to put in a hard effort. And you know what? Not every workout needs to be a hard effort.
In fact, 80% of your runs should be an easy effort. Just get out there and enjoy moving your body. You don’t need to kill yourself for a workout to count.
Related: 80/20 Running: Why You Need to Slow Down
Now, I just get out there. I enjoy moving, and I know that I am acting in alignment with my goals. If you keep moving, there will be days when your energy is great. Those are the days to plan hard workouts. The days when your energy is up is when you push the envelope and your fitness.
But first, focus on gaining consistency. Focus on one day at a time, then the next day. Don’t worry about the hard workouts right now.
Your first goal is to get out there and move.
Are you ready to conquer your running motivation for life and quit quitting?
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About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>