I 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.
The 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!