Motivation is defined as “the reasons one has for acting or behaving in a certain way”. Motivation is the process of stimulating others (or yourself) to action in order to accomplish a goal.
You want to pass a test, so you study. You want to buy a new car or go on vacation, so you save money. Or maybe…you want to complete a half marathon, so you follow a specific training plan to get you across the finish line.
Motivation is what powers us to take the necessary steps to achieve our goals. But what happens when motivation forgets to show up; when you would rather watch TV than read a text book, when the last thing you want to do is lace up, bundle up and get out in the cold to run 5 miles before work? What happens when the task is not fun, when it’s lonely and dark and your legs are sore and you just want to lie in bed?
That’s the opportunity for change to happen.
We talked to two women who know a thing or two about motivation, and gritty determination.
Sophorn Choup is a long distance runner. And by long distance, we mean, her last 5 races were 100 milers (and they weren’t flat). Sophorn completed every single one with a smile on her face and she’s looking forward to not only competing in her next ultra-marathon, but training for it as well. Sophorn was a young girl when her family fled Cambodia and she draws on the memory of her family’s determination to reach safety, despite the extremely difficult conditions, and danger, they faced. They had to keep going in order to survive. Sophorn has logged countless training miles, many of them in the cold, dark, dead of winter, drawing on those memories to keep her going. “I always plan my gear because with the right gear, the weather is less of a factor than you think it might be”. She says “If you’re going to make any progress, you have to get out of your comfort zone”.
Keeping that mantra and the stories of her early childhood in mind, has given her the tenacity she needs to stay the course and cross the finish line.
Anastasia Wohar’s second official race was the Miami marathon in 2015 which she entered because “it was right across the street from my house, so I figured, why not?”. Since then she has run 5 more marathons, including Boston in 2019 and she attributes her success to a few important things. Primarily, she makes running fun. “I love discovering new places when I run. There as so many great places to explore in Philadelphia”. Peanut butter and jelly on graham crackers is her typical pre-run snack, “I know how I’m going to fuel myself ahead of time, so there’s no thinking about it”. Most importantly, Anastasia prepares herself mentally. “I look at the weather so I know what to wear, I plan my route and when it’s time to get out the door, there’s no scramble, I just go”.
What both of these women have in common? A strategy.
To be efficiently successful in achieving a goal, it’s important to develop your own personal strategy to be sure that, in the absence of motivation, you can continue to progress. These strategy development steps can be applied towards any goal, but since we’re talking about running…
Step 1: Acknowledge. It’s nearly impossible to be motivated to train 100% of the time so when you aren’t, don’t freak out. Expect a dip in (or a complete departure of) motivation and when it happens, be confident that you will know how to handle it.
Step 2: Recognize. Identify the things that you do when you are motivated to train, those things that help to push you out the door. Do you lay your workout clothes out the night before? Eat a quick snack? Have a special playlist? The little things are not insignificant, make sure you include everything.
Step 3: Create. The routine is key! Create a routine made up of the behaviors you identified in Step 2 and do them in the exact same way every time you prepare to head out for a training run. This routine is a powerful tool that will be your best buddy in the absence of motivation.
Step 4: Utilize. On the days when motivation is nowhere to be found, start with determination. Rely on the routine created in Step 3 to trigger your motivation, going through the motions until you are actually doing the thing that you thought you couldn’t do.
Motivation to achieve any goal is what keeps us pushing forward, knowing that the reward will be worth all of the hard work. But sometimes the goal gets fuzzy, motivation wanes and when that happens, grab your grit and determination and just keep going. You’ll be so proud that you did.