"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going" ~ Jim Ryun
It's January. For many of us that means cold, dark, slippery, blustery days. But this isn't just any January, this is Pandemic January, 2021, 10 months into the most tiresome of years we've ever collectively lived through. Think back to a year ago: Could any of us have fathomed what was just ahead?
January is often the time people make "resolutions", and as we all know, most have already given up those goals by January 15th, if not sooner. But then I see runners, not necessarily "new" January runners, but runners who do this running thing on a somewhat regular basis, lament that they lack "motivation".
They ask: "How do others find the motivation to run, day in and day out?"
See, the assumption in the question is that those who consistently run are always motivated. This is fallacious thinking, and it's what Begging the Question actually means (everyone uses that wrong). The question not being asked is: "Are those who run consistently always motivated to run?" And the answer assumed, to the unstated question is: "Yes." And I could add: "And those people must have some elusive secret that I want to know". I've been running steadily, consistently, day in and day out, since 1985. That's a long damn time, and if you think I've always been motivated then you are sadly mistaken. Motivation is NOT the key here, habit is. If you wait for motivation every day you'll never form the habit because some days you just won't want to run, and if you give into that, then you won't run. Then everyday you don't feel "motivated" you stay firmly planted on the couch and the habit you form, instead of running, is couch sitting. Now, if that's what you're after, far be it from me to say anything about that. But, these questions seem to indicate that you don't want to develop the habit of couch sitting, you want to run. But you seem to think that those who consistently run enjoy constant, unrelenting stoke. When you see others out running you wonder: How are they always so damn jazzed to run? This is like expecting a marriage to always be like the honeymoon or the first infatuations of love. If those are your expectations, your marriage is not going to last.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you actually want. Not what you say you want, but what you really want. The reason resolutions fail is because we don't really want them. We may say we do, but if we are not willing to do what needs to be done to achieve them, our actions show what we really desire. It's like the common complaint: "I don't have the time." In most cases, we make time for the things we really value. Again, our actions show our values not our words.
I see this illustrated time and again in runners. Many will sign up for a big scary race. They'll be all excited and ready for anything. Note: the rush of adrenaline as you click "submit" on Ultrasignup can be achieved by anyone. But then training kicks in. You hit patches where you just don't make it happen. You just don't feel like going. You bemoan your regrettable lack of motivation, and reach out for some hints, some guidance, on where it might be found. In the meantime, you sit back and wait for it to return.
I've literally had runners tell me: "I just didn't want to get off the couch." or "Football was on." or "I just didn't have time to run my long run."
"Ummmm. Okay. But you do want to run that 100 miler, correct?"
"Yes. I really do." They swear up, down, and sideways.
And then week after week, and month after month, things slide. This is not about "motivation", this is about deep desires.
So, if you can't seem to get out there due to lack of "motivation" perhaps it is time to look deeply, into yourself, and determine whether what you say you want is in fact what you really want. If it is, then you need to focus on habit and let motivation go. There will be days that you are riding endless stoke and there will be days you drag your sorry, obstinate self out to do what you do. Do not deceive yourself into believing that others have some magic secret that you lack. If you really want to run, if you really want to be a runner, then you will run and that will become part of who you are.
"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." ~ Leonardo da Vinci