Motivation is overrated

Posted on: 2 August 2023

The mind is a funny thing.

I woke up yesterday, Tuesday morning, and felt pretty achey and tired from a 7-a-side football session the evening before. I’d travelled by train as the car was temporarily out of action, making a typical 2-hour round trip to play into a 3 and a half hour journey. The late night took its toll.

I had a 50 minute easy run scheduled for today. Sometimes I fit this into the middle of my day, but often on a Tuesday I’ll delay it till the evening to give my body most of the day to recover.

This Tuesday was a typical one; I was lacking motivation for the run. When you run frequently, or indeed, when you do anything frequently, the motivation to do the activity fluctuates. Motivation (or lack of) kills consistency. Do your best to ignore it.

Improvement comes when you don’t wait for motivation to strike.

Improvement is consistently showing up, knowing full well this session might not be the best one, and being OK with it.

When I eventually got out for my run, I briefly let myself dwell on the lack of my lack of motivation. Am I overtraining? Am I getting bored of running? Maybe I’m stagnating. Perhaps it was never for me. Pretty intrusive, demotivating stuff.

Then I reminded myself just 2 days before I ran a personal best 5k time at Parkrun. The day after I strapped my shoes on again and ran a rejuvenating long run along the South Downs in the wind and rain, finishing strongly downhill into Brighton. I felt alive and unstoppable.

Two days later, with a football session in between, unsurprisingly my body was a little worse for wear. The high had worn off. And the demotivation of yet-another-week had set in.

But I got out there, because I planned to. I know consistency is key, and I know motivation is fleeting and unreliable. Don’t listen to motivation. Let it drive you when you’re up high, but know that it won’t be there to drag you through the low moments.

Motivation helps you get started, but if you know something is good for you, don’t wait for it, just do it.

Tags: running