Keeping Fit And Slim

Ten (10) Things To Do When Your Motivation To Run Runs Out

So you are running for your fitness and health, or, to become fit and slim so you can get into one of those slim fit outfits. Great! But do you know what? Despite these strong imperatives, even when bolstered by incontrovertible evidence of success in their goals, many runners, seasoned and beginners alike, often reach a stage, where the “passion” for running is just not there anymore. Instead of looking forward to their training routines with great anticipation, satisfaction and delight, they approach each session with a feeling of irresolution, dread and disenchantment!

Seemingly gone are their desire to reach high levels of fitness and health, to get in that pair of slim fit jeans, to be told they have a gorgeous figure and to display a physique that appears to attract great envy! They ask themselves, almost daily, if it is really worthwhile continuing, if they are doing the right things – questions which not too long ago, they would never have thought of entertaining and would have being treating as aliens, anyone asking these questions of them! However, this is not some sudden, mysterious and incurable affliction of runners which might be requiring some advanced medical procedure or group psychiatric therapy! It is simply de-motivation – a degrading of that essential element which they had to earlier possess to take up running in the first place!

Somewhere inside runners however, there is always that strong inner voice of the “running survival instinct”. Having for years committed themselves to this exercise activity, and despite this almost overwhelming impression of “not feeling like it”, at the rational level dedicated runners remain aware of the multiple benefits of running (for beginners, they remember their great initial enthusiasm!). At this time it therefore does not become simply a question of whether to run or not, but rather a question of how to “work through” this period. Instead, the question is: “What must I do to continue to motivate myself to run regularly”?

It is said that understanding the “why” is a good way to start in dealing with the “what” and the “how” of problem solving. Therefore it is worthwhile to apply this methodology to the present condition and to ask the “why”, that is, why as a runner, have I become de-motivated about running? This way we will understand and be more readily adjusted to undertaking the various “steps” (counter-measures) in the “what” and the “how” which are to follow in order to remedy the situation.

There are two major factors which contribute to various levels of “de-motivation” in runners. These are:

· Burnout which results from “over training – running excessively and often without a break – as well as achievement of goals, leaving very little else to strive for. Runners feel “tired” mentally and physically and want a “break” from it all; and,

· Boredom which comes from pounding away daily at monotonous routines which had probably been “chosen” in a far more “frivolous” manner than is usually the case with the serious runner, and which more than likely, had been adopted more for personal “comfort” (the middle level runner and below!), rather than “purposefully (the seasoned and competitive runners).

Coping mechanisms for de-motivation have therefore to take these into account and try to ameliorate the conditions and factors which brought them about in the first place. Below are some useful suggestions as to what you as a runner might do to help you through the low motivation levels of your running life. Please note that they are not in any order of pre-eminence, one over the other. Nor are they intended as a “ten commandment package” which you must systematically and fully embrace for your later running redemption. Find what works for you. They can be your ladders from the “pit”, or your barricades against falling in!

1. Re-examine your goals or targets. If you have already achieved those targets for becoming fit and slim or reaching levels of fitness and health which you have previously set, then you need to set yourself new ones which are going to be manageable and realizable. This will increase your chances of achieving them. Do not now undertake new training routines which will cause you to have to change your whole lifestyle. If on the other hand your de-motivation is due to your inability to achieve your goals, to reach the targets you have set yourself, then you have to revise them and make them more realistic, that is, more “doable”. Do not see yourself as a “failure”. This will only undermine your resolve and further diminish your motivation.

2. Modify your training schedules and switch your routes. If you are running for fitness and health, to become fit and slim, or, even if you are doing so professionally, change or frequently modify your running schedule. For example, if you are used to morning runs, try running in the evening instead. This will be sure to substantially vary your “environment” which can be a very important factor in the whole undertaking. Vary your running route. For example, go along trails (trail running) instead of your usual comfortable “road” or “track” running”; do some up hill running (an entirely different training exercise and excellent for achieving fitness and health) if conditions allow, etc. This will mitigate the “sameness” of your “every day” training routine and lessen the “boredom” element. Vary your intensity as well. Many suggest that this should be decreased for a week, by as much as 75% every 4 – 6 weeks.

3. Add other forms of exercise to your running routine. Apart from the motivational factor (breaking up the “routine” of your training), other activities such as cycling, yoga, swimming, dancing, barbell work outs, etc., allow the muscles which you use most in running, to get some rest, while building up the strength and flexibility of other muscles. In fact this has become a “must” for most runners. Doing this 1 – 2 days a week will in no way derail your running for health and fitness routines nor negatively impact your professional aspirations.

4. Keep a training record or log. This very helpful as it allows you to keep track (!) of your physical improvement – fit and slim or fitness and health achievements. This should include dates, times, pace, approximate distances, how you were feeling – breathing, physical state, anything to which you can later refer and be able to make a comparison of the position now to what it was earlier. Such “evidence” to indicate that you are making progress, will “keep you going”, i.e., motivated. Who, in the middle of “making progress” in goal or target achievement e.g., losing a pound or two each week, would want to halt the process?

5. Run with friends or with organized groups. The social aspect of running can be a very motivating factor and is one of the very strong reasons (people are said to be “social animals”!) why many people, in the first place, take up running as a form of fitness and health exercise as opposed, for example, to lifting weights, which of itself, is much less of a “social” event and has much more of an “individual” aspect than does running. The “routine” of running becomes much “lighter” when you can get from others, some news about things of which you would not normally be aware, or get new ideas. Seeing the timely physical improvement in others (some are able to wear smaller size jeans or other slim fit apparel, for example), also provides a powerful stimulant to your own efforts and determination.

6. Run some races for pleasure and enjoyment. If you are a competitive runner, make some races a kind of “living it up”. All your “races” should not be at a competitive level and winning should not always be a “must” or your prime objective every time you are out there! Make times where, if you do not hit the tape in front of everyone else, you won’t feel you have “lost the race” and your career has been diminished! This way you won’t, every time, have to “go at it with a vengeance” or “give it your all”. You will find it real fun and you will enjoy the opportunity to run at an easy pace set by you, and not always be “pressured to perform” – a good space to be in if “motivation” is becoming a problem.

7. Join up with a “newbie”. This will give you a ”break” from your own serious and perhaps heavy routine. It can work wonders for your psyche if you don’t seriously mind being considerably “slowed” down at first! This gives you a chance to see yourself in perspective – your “freshman” days back then and your “senior” status now. It gives you a chance to “showcase” yourself. It does great for your ego to have someone who wants to be fit and slim like you now, and who seeks your advice, counsel and assistance in matters of running for fitness and health. Seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes will foster your motivation and encourage and bolster your own efforts. See yourself as “helping” someone else, doing a ”good turn”.

8. Run for a “cause”. People’s “spirits” get “lifted” when they do things for what they themselves and others perceive to be for “higher” purposes, rather than for personal “selfish” reasons! Instead of always running races for “strictly competitive” purposes, make one or two of your races “charitable” efforts on your part to help society in general. There are many opportunities for races of this kind and some charities go as far as providing the training and advice necessary to do this for fund raising. This is a wonderful way to get and keep motivated as you are “going beyond yourself” – supporting a “noble” cause, giving to “charity”!

9. Pick a mantra for yourself – a short phrase which you can go over and over (“play” so to speak!), in your mind as you undertake your fitness and health exercise routines or run to become fit and slim. If you are alone, say it out aloud! There are many moving, exalting and exulting words which can serve at times to “inspire” you. You must like what you hear yourself saying. It must be emotionally and spiritually “uplifting”. While many such highly motivating phrases are available from famous people, you should try and either make up one of your own or at least choose from those phrases by others, one which fits your own style and personality – one with which you can both literally and figuratively run and feel “engaged” in and one which expresses YOU!

10. Design a “self-reward” system. For example, set yourself a target with a particular compensation or “bounty” with which you will reward yourself, when you accomplish it. This should not be so arduous that you cannot achieve it, nor yet be so easy that it poses little challenge! Find a workable compromise, and when you do, set out about it purposefully – you are serious about it! For example, you will treat yourself to a special play, concert, movie, etc., or give yourself a special dinner at a very special restaurant where you don’t often go, or wanted to go, but never have, etc., etc., when you reduce your time by half a minute. When you do reach that target – collect your bounty!

We are all aware that motivational factors vary widely for people and even if some people are motivated by the same factor it will probably not be to the same extent for everybody. Even within a single individual, motivational factors have a ”period” element – what motivates you at age 20 is very likely to have a different response from you at age 50! Hopefully however, many people will find some of their motivational “buttons” in this list. For some, 2 or 3 from the list might be sufficient to raise their motivational levels, while for others, it might be 5 or 6. Whatever you need, hopefully you will find it here.

This however is like closing the proverbial “gate” after the horses have fled. Many of these “tips” should be, and are best applied in the very early stages of undertaking your running routines for fitness and health or to become fit and slim. If this is done at that time, the chances of your later bearing and possibly wilting under this “heavy burden” of running de-motivation, will be considerably reduced.

Remember to keep running. Running itself is a motivator. It allows you to go much beyond the “routine” of your daily life and into a place where motivation is itself, self-sustaining!

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