Finding Your Way Back When Your Motivation Takes a Holiday

Sporty Woman Taking A Workout RestI am a runner. It defines me. Up until recently, my Twitter bio’s opening descriptor was Runner. (It’s now, temporarily, a Game of Thrones quote. I’ll change it back soon.)

Running is part of my life. It’s what I do.

But lately I’ve encountered a problem: I haven’t been running.

When I’m training for a race, I run three times during the week and then have a long run on the weekend. There’s no doubt my friends get bored of me cancelling plans in favour of “Sunday Run Day.” Even when I’m not actively training, I like to keep my fitness level high and run at least twice a week.

But I’ve been struggling recently. I’ve probably been out on some shorter runs, perhaps going twice in the last month. As a result I’m trying to understand what is stopping me from lacing up my trainers and taking that step out of the front door.

  • Work has been busy. (But I could definitely spare time to go out for a short run each day—I’d just need to get up a little bit earlier.)
  • I’ve had a lot of plans with friends. (But I could easily find a balance between working out and going out.)
  • I need some new trainers. (But the old ones still work.)

I haven’t got any real excuses not to be out pounding the pavements; I simply can’t be bothered. I can’t find the motivation. I just don’t want to.

I’ve registered for some races in the second half of the year. I can’t wait to start training for these races, but I’m procrastinating, because I have lots of time between now and then. Whilst being registered for a race is a short-term motivational push (simply because I fear being the last one panting across the finish line), the races aren’t enough to keep me running the rest of the time. The promise of a medal and a finisher’s t-shirt is an exciting reward, but it’s not enough to push me all the time.

I’ve found myself slipping away from running, and I find myself at a point now where I’m simply disinterested. I’m prioritising other commitments, and I’m not leaving myself with enough time or energy to go for a run. I’d rather be doing something else. I simply don’t care.

That can’t be right.

Look at my opening paragraph. I’ve already said that being a runner defines me. If I am to find the motivation to run again, I need to remember what makes me want to run. I need to remind myself why I love running.

I started running at university. I took a law degree, so after a day of reading textbooks, I decided I didn’t want to stay inside, and I found that running became an escape. I could go out, and use it to digest everything I’d read that day; or to think about things that weren’t law. It was my freedom, and my thinking space.

The more I ran, the fitter I became, and with that, I found that maintaining that fitness was important to me. Plus, if I ran, it meant that I could eat more (and anyone who knows me, knows I like food—a lot!)

I started tweeting about running – yes, I’m one of those annoying people, but everyone knows if you don’t share your workout on social media, it basically doesn’t count – Twitter opened the door to my first Marathon. I trained, and it became an addiction. I chased the miles; the times and the personal bests; and I learned to love the ache in my legs.

Running became part of me. I wasn’t running because I had to. I was running because I loved how it made me feel – it cleared my mind, it meant I could eat loads of cake kept me fit, and I just enjoyed doing it. It became an integrated part of my life.

Jemma UK RunChatThe key to getting myself back to enjoying running again is to remind myself that in running I can demonstrate important values of fitness. I can derive that sense of fun and enjoyment and continue to feed my natural love of challenging myself.

The end-of-race medal is a great goal to work towards—but if I’m to keep running, I need to find a kind of motivation that isn’t external. It’s not because of the promise of a piece of “race bling.” It’s because the only person who can fully motivate me—is me!


7 thoughts on “Finding Your Way Back When Your Motivation Takes a Holiday

  1. What defines you is such an essential question. It is not about what you do but rather who you are, and yes what motivates and drives you forward but even more than that what are some of your deeply held beliefs and values, those that are non-negotiable. Running may be negotiable and may change over time. Honesty may not be negotiable. So, in one of those value sort exercises, look at your top five and then answer the question, “Who am I?” Chances are those will define you more than running, more than work, even more than the company you keep and the relationships you enjoy.

  2. Excellent thoughts Jemma.

    I’ve experienced similar motivational dilemmas with cycling. I go through periods where the motivation wavers and it’s always helpful to get back to the basics of why I love cycling: being outdoors, fresh air, stress relief, and how it makes me feel when I’m done.

    Most things in life are decisions…we have to decide to do something whether we “feel” motivated or not. The feelings will ebb and flow and we can’t rely on them to drive our behavior.


  3. Great job Jemma. I’m so not a runner, but really identify with true motivation being about the inner stuff, what we value, who we are, what really matters, what we connect with and relate to.



  4. Thanks Jemma. I think we all face that same lagging motivation at times. It may not be running, or keeping physically fit, but something we feel so committed to. But then the blahs set in, and we wonder. Getting back to that inner drive, purpose, motivation is where it’s at. Whatever that may be for each of us.

    I find that in providing resources for others to solve problems, answer questions, deal with issues. When I get in the doldrums, I go back to that purpose and remind myself that I am good at that and find real joy when others use the resources I offer to solve their particular dilemma.

    Thanks for the reminder that who we are on the inside, what drives us and gives us purpose, and where we see our mission can be so fulfilling. For some that is the first step, finding out what that purpose, mission, inner drive really is.

    Appreciate the thoughts.

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