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Friday, March 11, 2011

Motivate Yourself to Run Faster, Farther and Smarter!

Motivation....what a loaded word. Expectations have been conquered or broken at our feet....all courtesy of this loaded word.  Motivation.

For me, motivation involves a few different facets, and it's this model for motivation that I've shaped over the years and I feel works best for me, and I think would work best for most people as well. This model is still in its infancy as its the first time I've ever written it down. What motivates me?

  1. The impression others have of me: What do others think of me?
  2. The challenge presented to me: How will I succeed?
  3. The benefit: What can I or those I care about gain from this?
  4. The risk: Is the benefit worth the risk?
It's taken me years to iron out this list of categories as they pertain to my motivation, and although I've found this process painstakingly hard I think it's this type of thinking that can help keep me aligned to my goals...and you to yours! If you can dial in what motivates you, you'll be shedding weight off your waist, time off your personal bests and running longer and smarter than ever before!

The impression others have of me: What do others think of me?

I spent quite a few years after University searching for my identity. I didn't want to associate with anything 'common', 'mainstream' or 'standard'. I loved my unique-ness, and I fought hard against the pressures of everyday, common life.  It took me years to realize this was not how I needed to live my life and only recently did I discover that I had so little motivation at the time because I had systematically shut out most of what I used to motivate me in the past.  This was not working and I had to change...

I had begun believing that in order to motivate, succeed and sustain I simply had to look within me to find my values and beliefs in order to help guide me along the way. The flaw with this logic is that one cannot form their own system of beliefs without a feedback loop that reaches into your surroundings. The things, places, and people you love, or hate, are needed in order to build a healthy system of beliefs and values. To shut these things, experiences, people and emotions out of our lives can only lead to one thing: the slow and painful death of our persona.

The challenge presented to me: How will I succeed?

I love a challenge. I love being told I can't do something. I love surprising people. This is the most important part of my motivation.  The thought of people being wow'ed when they hear I've run 1000 miles last month (oh, how I dream) or that I've broken the world record in the 10,000m also motivate me.

This declaration might seem shallow and perhaps to some, pathetic. That's what I thought at first, but gosh darn it, if it motivates me I'm going to harness it and use it.

Above all, the thrill of overcoming adversity, be it physical, mental or emotional, trumps just about everything. Planning, implementing and testing it all makes for fun times, especially when you link yourself up with a team of like minded people.

The benefit: What can I or those I care about gain from this? 

We all need reasons to do things. We rest when we're sick so we'll come back strong.  We sleep, or drink coffee, when we're tired. We work to get paid. We volunteer to help others.

We do these things because someone benefits in some way.  The same rings true for long distance runners like yourself and I. I run for my health, for my sanity, to prove to my inner voices that I can accomplish the impossible, to drink and eat merrily without regret (except for that one night), to benefit the many charities I support by competing, and the list goes on my friends.

Find some way of rewarding yourself or people you care about. It will provide you with the 'get-up-and-go' you'll need the after a night of drinking, volunteering or restless sleep.  You'll also find that the smallest rewards can be the most satisfying, something as simple as a piece of dark chocolate post-run. Yum!

The risk: Is the benefit worth the risk?

This is when you combine the CHALLENGE you face with the BENEFIT you can gain from accomplishing it and try and understand if the risk is worth it all. You can't possibly expect me to tell you how to do this, the only way to learn is to go ahead and take risks.  You'll eventually develop a system/process that is tailored to how you handle risk and how much risk you can tolerate.  But don't forget, in every benefit lies a risk, in every risk lies a benefit. 

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