No matter how many inspirational memes I read, they don’t quite motivate me to get up at 04:30 to run in the pouring rain. Even my dog, with his tail wagging so fast it knocks everything off my nightstand, cannot quell the grumbling (and sometimes mild cursing) that spews from my psyche when my alarm goes off.
The word motivation has two nuanced variations. When you pull your hair into a ponytail and say to yourself in the mirror: “If I don’t go to the gym, I will murder my kids today; and I want to avoid jail:” that is motivation (noun).
When you put on an awesome headband that matches your sport shoes and think “Yay, me!” as you skip away to the gym: that is motivated (adjective).
Often, I am not enthusiastic; I just show up.
For example, I do not wake up thinking, Hooray! It is dark and cold and raining; and I get to go running!
Sometimes I even complain about going to Crossfit. Maybe I dreamt I was drowning all night; or I ate too many tacos the day before; or my knees ache from wearing high-heeled boots; or I still have sore muscles from Friday’s WOD; or maybe it’s just a rainy Monday after school break, and I don’t want to drag my carcass out in public. None of that matters–I shove it aside and go.
I have loved ones who would do anything to simply walk across the room without pain. Sometimes, I carry that with me, and it does inspire (motivate) me to get up and get moving–simply because I can. I am blessed with good health. I don’t take it for granted.
Still, there are days I want to take that job as a test subject for NASA my mom told me about: staying in bed three months while scientists study me.
So, what keeps me going when I do not feel motivated?
I contemplated this while the cold spring rain blasted into my face on my run this morning, which is a fancy way of saying I wondered why the hell I was out there.
Last year, aside from chasing my dog as he attacked ducks in the park, I stopped running. With divorce issues, visa issues, work issues, and basic life-falling-apart issues; I didn’t make the time for training. I was burnt out. Despite continuing Crossfit training 4-5 days a week, I was stressed a LOT, more aggressive; my creativity plummeted into an abyss of self-doubt; and I slowly came to realize I was missing a part of myself.
Except for last year, I have run at least one marathon (sometimes two) every year since 2010.
Thus, when I saw the ads for the Jungfrau Marathon (which I’ve run twice and said ‘never again’ both times), of course, I had to sign up. I knew it would give me the motivation to get my ass out of bed and go running, whether I felt like it or not.
Which brings me to my second point:
Feeling Motivated is Irrelevant
When I have a goal, my level of enthusiasm doesn’t matter–I just train, rain or shine, or snow or wind or whatever the universe throws at me. It doesn’t matter, because the miles I log absolutely count when I’m running five or more hours up the side of a mountain. I know this. I’ve felt this in my quads and in my soul.
So even if I only had four hours of sleep, or my calves hurt, or my labrador looks a little sleepy–it doesn’t matter. There are no excuses. I might grumble while I pull on my compression socks, but NOT training is not an option.
I just tell myself—okay, just put on your tights and socks and shoes and gloves and hat and raincoat and grab the dog and get the hell out there. If the wind blows you backwards, try to at least make it to the big barn. If you are not hit in the head by a tree branch, continue to the next town.
As long as there are no tornadoes, swarms of wasps, or sheets of black ice, I should be able to make it as far as the park. Sometimes I think about how wonderful running feels. Other times I bitch the first few miles. But I have never come back from a run saying, “I wish I would’ve stayed in bed.”
It’s the same with Crossfit–on certain days, showing up is my only goal, my only expectation.
So, for my fellow unmotivated friends: never feel that in order to go to the gym or go for a run that you have to be Sunny Sally Zumba (who is, if you think about it, paid to motivate people).
Romantic ideas of being “motivated” are what hinder people the most. Motivational posters won’t tie your shoes for you.
So don’t wait to feel motivated. Instead, schedule your training on the family calendar. Set an alarm or two and show up.
You won’t regret it.