Motivation And A Big Enough Why
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To stay motivated for any goal, you absolutely must have a big enough “Why”: the reason that makes you keep going when you don’t want to and it’s easier to quit. That big enough “Why” is the key. However, sometimes finding your big enough “Why” is the stumbling block when setting a goal.
I personally have found myself using lots of different “Whys” to keep myself motivated and moving forward. Some of them are just short-term “Whys”, that help for a day or a week or two or three, and some of them are long-term “Whys”. For any goal, the size of the “Why” has to be equal to or greater than the size and importance of the goal.
I’ve been a runner for just over 17 years now, but when I was first starting out, I needed the motivation of my friend Dana to keep me going. I would have given up and would not be a runner today if not for Dana running alongside me with her enthusiastic energy and love of running. My “Why” was just keeping up with Dana, and that was a big enough “Why” at the time. Eventually her passion for the sport took root in me, and I have since found my own pace, and haven’t stopped running yet.
Once Dana moved away I was left to run by myself. Not necessarily a bad thing though, as running alone allows me to re-connect with my self and center my thoughts. And even though I have a deep passion when it comes to my running, there are times when I do need some strong motivation to get my butt out of bed and pull my running shoes on. So here are some tips and techniques I’ve used over the years to make a big enough “Why” for myself. I have relied on these tricks to stay motivated and keep my running fresh and fun.
I used to be able to keep myself motivated by running a new trail or area of town. Seeking out new running paths and exploring streets and trails kept my running new and exciting. I found some beautiful and magical spots by simply running in a new place.
But since my diagnosis with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 1997, my eyesight has been slowly declining over the years. This makes it almost impossible for me to run new trails anymore. In fact for safety reasons I pretty much only run on controlled paths that I can navigate with my white cane and limited vision. And it definitely gets boring sometimes running the same path every single time I put on my running shoes.
So now I am using these other tricks to keep me motivated.
One sure-fire way to get me out of bed to go running is new running clothes. A new pair of running shorts or shirt can keep me going for weeks, but soon the novelty wears off. I could buy more running clothes, but I’m running out of room in my closet and drawers! I have more running clothes than one human should be allowed! But hey, that certainly won’t stop me from picking up just one more running shirt…or two, or three… :) Did I mention how much I love running clothes? It’s my not-so-secret addiction.
Another motivational tool I use is new songs on my mp3 player. When I load up my mp3 player with a new playlist, my “Why” is that I honestly can’t wait to get out and run so I can listen to all the new high energy songs. This can last quite a while as well, as I only allow myself to listen to my running music while running. In a similar vein, if I have a good book to listen to, that can keep me hitting the pavement for up to a couple of weeks. But the problem is that all of these strategies last only a few weeks at best. And it’s easy enough to load new running music or books onto the mp3 player, but it’s not really a big enough “Why” for the really long-term.
So for me, one of the best motivational techniques I have ever used is training for an event or a particular goal. At one point a few years back, I was going through some new and wonderful changes in my life and my running days were pretty much non-existent. But after about 6 months I was really feeling the void in my life that only running could fill, so I made the decision to train for BloomsDay: a very big race held each spring in Spokane, Washington. There would be over 40,000 runners and walkers participating in this race. By having a goal race to train for, I was giving myself the “Why” I needed to stay totally motivated to get out and run. I even trained on hills even though I hate running hills, as I knew there was the dreaded “DoomsDay Hill” at the end of this 7 plus mile run. So having a looming event on the schedule is a great “Why.”
After BloomsDay, I kept training for small races here and there, but it was not until I decided to run in my first full marathon, that I learned the true meaning of dedicated and perpetual motivation. I knew that I would have to be unwavering in my marathon training program for 6 long and arduous months if I was going to pull off the training schedule and ultimate running of a full marathon and live to tell about it. Of course, “living through it” that was my big enough “Why” for that one.
So for 6 months I told as many people as I could that I was going to run a marathon. Their supportive reaction and amazement that a blind runner was going to run a marathon fueled me on.
My friends and family were another great source of motivation, as they each helped me however they could. My friend Vickie rode her bike with me on my long marathon training runs and our conversation and laughter was so much fun. Some runners use running clubs to keep them motivated, but with my work schedule I was not able to take advantage of them. But my partner and I attended workshops put on by the marathon organizers.
After all the miles of my marathon training program and ultimately running the marathon, I was tired from training so long and hard. It took some recovery time, but soon I was out there running again and doing a fairly good job of staying dedicated to it.
At the beginning of this year 2009, I got flattened with lower right back pain. At one point I sneezed, and I was down right now, rolling on the floor like a beach ball. The diagnosis came back that I had sciatica down my right back and leg. It was impossible for me to run for over 2 months! Once I was given the okay by my chiropractor to run again, it was slow going, as the sciatica was still hampering me somewhat. But soon I was plugging along and eventually my lower right back pain was all healed up, and I was moving normally.
Even though my back injury was healed, and I wasn’t having the lower right back pain anymore, I was having trouble getting past the 3 mile mark on my runs. Before my back injury I had been running 6 to 8 miles at a time, easily and comfortably, so it bothered me that I’d get to 3 miles and be wiped out, even though I shouldn’t have been.
So in order to challenge myself, get myself motivated to break through that 3 mile barrier and push my comfort zone, I decided to do a virtual Run Over To Ellen’s: to the Ellen TV show in Burbank, CA. This 1,222 and a ¼ mile run from my home in Montana to the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank will take 34 weeks running an average of 36 miles a week! Before my lower right back pain and the sciatica issue, I was running about 18 to 24 miles a week.
But not only am I doing this virtual Run Over To Ellen’s in the hopes of getting Ellen Degeneres tickets to see a taping of the Ellen TV show, I’m fundraising for Guide Dogs For the Blind at the same time. My quest is to raise $30,000 for them between now and the end of the year.
So this Run Over To Ellen’s fundraising project will keep me motivated and running for 8 months! And by doing a daily video update for the special access Donors Only page, I am determined to do the mileage.
So I think I have found my big enough “Why”…for this year anyway!
How ‘bout it?