Tag Archives: motivation

Lost Motivation

10 Sep


So remember how after the marathon I said I was going to start working out again and stop eating crap? Yeah… that hasn’t really happened.

Instead, I’ve been eating Bagel Bites and watching copious amounts of NCIS. Which is fine… for a time. But I don’t want to become that guy on the couch.

There are a variety of reasons excuses why I’m being lazy, but it pretty much boils down to I have no motivation. Training for a race is my main motivator for being active (and eating healthy follows suit). And with no race on the horizon, my motivation has pulled the disappearing act too. Even though I really do enjoy being active, sometimes the enjoyment of laziness triumphs.

A logical solution would be to just sign up for another race. In Denver, there are races year round. Unfortunately, right now, the thought of training for a race is even less appealing than the thought of working out. Which is kind of weird (since when don’t I want to race?), but also understandable (I’m completely burnt out on racing right now).

I know that you don’t technically need motivation to work out. You don’t need to *feel* like working out to go put on your shoes and head out for a walk. You don’t need to *look forward* to it. Heck, you could even be dreading it. The important part is that you DO it. The motivation follows later (like when you get done and say “I’m so glad I did that!”).

So I’ve decided that I’m going to stop waiting to *feel like* exercising again and Just Do It. No more excuses. No more whiny cries of “But I’m Sooooo tired!” There are times when I need to be nice to myself, but this isn’t one of them – this is when I need to kick myself in the butt.

I’m still going to be realistic. A person doesn’t have unlimited willpower. So my new revised goals are to do at least 30 minutes of cardio + 15 min strength training 3 times a week as well as limit sweets to 1 per day. And if I can’t handle that, Lord help me.

What do you do when you’re feeling unmotivated?

A Mental Game

16 Feb

I have to admit that the humbling experience of last Sunday’s race has sort of taken the wind out of my sails. It’s not surprising I guess. Just like I can have a runner’s high for the week after I blow my race expectations out of the water, I can also have a runner’s low for a week after failing yet another half marathon PR attempt (and getting my butt kicked in the process).

Travis and I are registered for the Snowman Stampede 5 mile race this Saturday. Part of me is hoping for redemption. Flat course and temp in the low 30s? You’ve got this. Part of me doesn’t even care. I’m slow. I suck. So be it.

After we busted out 2 miles on Tuesday night in 19:57 (say what?), Travis told me that he thinks my problem is mental. I am able to run faster than I give myself credit for.

I agree that running is a mental sport. You don’t come by a PR easily – you have to fight, dig deep, lay it on the line, and cry tears of simultaneous joy and pain. And in those last miles of a tough race,  my mental state often gets the best of me. I have loads of negative thoughts running through my head:

I can’t do this.

This is too hard.

It doesn’t matter anyway.

Why the f*** am I doing this? 

During the race on Sunday, I was battling those thoughts from the start line.

It’s too cold.

I can’t breathe.

My legs won’t move!

I have 13 miles to go?!?!

Even during my run with Travis on Tuesday, I was holding myself back with negative thoughts.

I can’t run this fast.

My legs are going to wear out.

I’m going to burn out after a mile.

According to iMapMyRun though, I ran the first mile in 10:09 and the second mile in 9:48.

Which makes me tempted to say that Travis is right – I can run faster than I think. But I have to say, after years of being disappointed by my running pace and missing race goals left and right, I allow myself to ask the lurking question I haven’t wanted to acknowledge – Why do I spend so much time on a sport that I’m bad at? Why do I have a hobby that makes me frequently feel insufficient and incompetent?

As I’m staring down this goal of a marathon, and preparing to start training for real next week, I feel scared. Unsure. Do I really want to do this? I’d be lying if I said I just wanted to finish. I want to reach a goal. I want a time I can feel good about, even if only in my own eyes.

There are days when I can graciously accept that I just was not created to be fast. Then there are other days when it makes me frustrated. Discouraged. And I question why I do this in the first place.

I think every runner, no matter how fast or slow, gets to this place. The place where pace, cadence, distance, races, and goals fall flat and you have to go back to square one: reminding yourself why you run. Most runners I know don’t run because they love winning. Or because they love beating other people. They run because they love it, pure and simple.

So that’s where I am. Reminding myself that I run for the love of it. No matter how slow I go, no matter how much I walk, no matter how many minutes tick by past my goal, no matter how “poor” of a runner I feel like, I’m out there because I love running.

Why do you run?

Ambitious much?

12 Jan

This week has been very standard at work: nothing to do. But for some reason, I come home from work just exhausted. I have grand ambitions of working on a project I want to get done or reading a book but the only thing that seems appealing is getting my workout done as fast as I can and then spending the rest of the night glued to the couch and TV. Ever have a week like that?

Last week, I was thinking about my goal of reading 50 books in a year. I did the math the hard way – taking 50 books divided by 12 months and carrying the 2 – when I could have realized my over-ambition quite fast by taking 50 books into 52 weeks. Hmmm… that equals out to be almost a book a week. Every week. All year long.

Suffice it to say, I am revising my goal to simply Read more books than I did last year. Which cuts it down to 27 books instead of 50, but that’s still a book every 2 weeks. More realistic but (I think) still tough, especially when I have weeks like this where reading feels like the last thing I want to do.

The whole point of the goal is not just to read. It’s to be more intentional about doing something I enjoy (and I just like making goals). Treating myself like a Nazi is not something I enjoy. A goal too lofty would make me feel incredibly guilty for doing anything but reading, and ruin the very purpose of creating the goal in the first place.

This makes me think of a question I read in an interesting blog post and article the other day: When does self-improvement stop being beneficial and start being a hindrance?

The whole idea behind making goals at the new year, I think, is to be more intentional about how you’re spending your time. Instead of just thinking about how much you’d like learning how to paint, or to speak Japanese, or to run in 10 states, you put some action behind it. Make your dream a reality. Use your time wisely.

But the day-in, day-out grind of life isn’t always as inspiring as those first days of a new year are. Hence, the number of unkept resolutions.

So what do you do when the glitter falls off of your goal? When you just see the menial tasks and grunt work actually required to meet your goal, instead of the sparkly prize at the end? Here’s how I look at goals:

1. Goals should be flexible. Life changes. Things happen. You might realize one day that shooting to read a book a week for the entire year is pretty much a pipe dream. So you revise.

2. Goals should be inspiring. If you’re saving for a trip to Paris, put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on your wall at work. Learn to speak French. Go eat a croissant and tell yourself that it’ll be 1,000 times better in Paris. Watch movies set in Paris. Keep a picture that reminds you of Paris in your wallet, so that every time you’re tempted to spend money that you should be saving, you hold out for the greater prize. Don’t just grunt your way through life – be inspired.

3. Goals should have a “why.” If you don’t know why you want to lose weight, or take up a new hobby, or cook more at home, it’s very easy to give up when you encounter resistance in the form of brownies, laziness or takeout food. Having a “why” also provides fodder for your inspiration (see #2).

4. Goals should be about more than just the end. Why? Because on your way to the goal, you’re still living your life. And if you’re only focused on the end, you’re missing out on the joy of the journey. Running a marathon someday will be amazing – but it’ll be so amazing because of the miles I ran and time I sacrificed to get there. A goal is an accomplishment because you stayed focused over an extended period of time for a specific result. It’s the work that got you there that’s impressive. Also, if you’re solely focused on the end of your goal, what happens when you reach it? Goals aren’t the point of life. A goal is just a tool that helps you make positive changes in your life, for your overall joy.

5. Goals should be filled with grace. There are days when you slip up and eat 2 slices of cake even though you’re trying to drop some pounds. Or you skip your run even though you’re training for a race. Or you veg and watch TV every night after work for a week even though you’re trying to read more. Some days you just need a break. And that’s ok. Use the break to think about your goal – Is it still worth it? If so, why did I do what I did? What can I do in the future to prevent it from happening again? Or should I revise my goal to make it more realistic or joy-giving?


In my case, I’ve been reading a pretty mentally-challenging book (One Thousand Gifts) and while I’m really enjoying it, sometimes I just want an easy novel. That’s why I’m drawn to TV over a book – I don’t want to think, just veg. I think easy novels can serve that purpose too. While I’m trying to break my habit of reading more than one book at once, sometimes you just have to make an exception (see #5).

How do you stay motivated for your goals?

Needed: A Swift Kick in the Pants

5 Aug

My alarm was set for 5 am this morning, because I was planning to go swimming. I took the night off last night – instead of doing the 25 mile bike ride and upper body weights I had on the schedule, I laid on the couch and watched 2 glorious episodes of my favorite summer show, Drop Dead Diva. Then I walked the pooches to Dairy Queen where I got a cone with crunch topping. This was a sanity call – I have not spent time a weeknight on the couch in something like 4 months – and my next free weekend isn’t until the 2nd weekend of September. I couldn’t wait that long to relax.

Since we’re going camping tonight with our care group from church, I really needed to go swimming this morning. Believe me, I laid in bed trying to figure out if there was any way I could do my workout some other time. During lunch? No. Too much traffic for biking. Too far away for swimming. Already ran enough this week. After work? No. Leaving early to get on the road up to Leadville. Dangit. I have to go now.

My dogs woke up at 4:50, wanting to go outside. Since Charlie is still potty training and will pee inside if not let out immediately, I rolled out of bed, depressed that my alarm was set for only 10 minutes later. (I actually turned it off when I got up so that it didn’t go off without me there, if for some reason I was detained longer than 10 minutes – doing what, I have no clue.) The well-rested me would have just stayed up, since I believe it’s harder to get out of bed than to stay out. But the sleep-deprived me went back to bed and set the alarm for 5:15 instead, remembering that 5:30 am is the prime time for swimming at our gym because all of the old geezers have finished their workouts but the young whipper-snappers haven’t gotten up yet.

5:15. Alarm going off. I can’t get up yet. Snooze.

5:18. Alarm going off again. (Yes, it’s only a 3-minute snooze. Pretty impressive pathetic that I have snoozed my alarm for an hour sometimes, isn’t it?) Just one more. Snooze.

5:21. Ok, seriously this is the last one. Snooze.

5:24. I really do not want to go swimming. [Insert brainstorming ways to do workout later.] Remember what you keep saying about triathlon training – that it’s mostly discipline? So get out of bed and go. It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to. Suck it up cupcake. Turn alarm off and get up.

I went to the gym and swam 1,750 yards. And I can honestly say that I am glad I went, but I am also sad that I couldn’t go back to bed afterward. Unemployment, I miss you!

I’m sure that there isn’t an athlete out there who hasn’t had some kind of inner monologue like this with themselves in the morning. Or before a workout. But especially in the morning.

I am happy to report that this catchy little saying works. So much so, that I would like to get a shirt like this one.

Now if only that would motivate myself to post about my Minnesota vacation too… but alas, it’ll have to happen on Sunday or next week. Guess it’s not a failsafe.

{Side note: This week, I have had a horrible case of adhesive-mattress-itis, which is making me seriously reconsider my idea to get up at 4-freaking-30 to get in the Word and train. I’m a thinking it isn’t going to happen… on to Plan F.}

How do you motivate yourself to train when you don’t want to?

Never underestimate the power of sleep

8 Mar

For a couple of years now, I have had this notion that I must have less energy than the average person. Everyone else seems to go, go, go while I consistently have the feeling of needing a nap. I figured I just needed more downtime, more time to recover from the demands of life.

Well, since not having a job has allowed me to get at least 9 glorious hours of sleep a night (but I still get up before Travis, ha!), I have discovered that it’s not that I have less energy than most people, it’s just that I need more sleep.

My body really needs a good 9 hours a night to feel actually rested. If I get even just 8.5 hours, I feel ready for a nap all day long. This past Sunday, after going to an early afternoon barbeque at the house of one of Travis’ co-workers, I had planned on grocery shopping and working out. But I had absolutely no motivation to do either when we got home because I felt…so…tired. Why? Because I had gotten a measly 8 hours of sleep on Saturday night. So I took an hour long nap and felt refreshed enough to do what I had planned.

All of this has taught me that I cannot underestimate the power of sleep. I am a person who needs plenty of sleep to function at the top of my game. And if my body really wants 9 hours, it’s no wonder than on 7 or 8 hours, I constantly feel tired.

I’m guessing that the majority of Americans feel this way – hence the explosion of energy drinks, caffeine-laced nutrition bars, and espresso concoctions. The smartest answer to the phenomenon of being tired would be to just get more sleep. But that seems to be the last thing anyone wants. Our society is constantly moving. I just read in a book that back in 1960s, “those who predicted the future advantages of technology and innovation felt the biggest challenge to the future would be boredom. They believed that time-saving technologies would increase productivity, and they informed a Senate committee that in 1985 people would work approximately twenty-two hours a week, twenty-seven weeks a year, and would retire at age thirty-eight.” I bet those people would have slept 10 hours a night too…

The thing about technology is that we have let it control us, instead of us controlling it. Take, for example, how hard it is to turn the TV off at night and go to bed. After the show you planned on watching ends, you grab the remote and are ready to turn the TV off until wait – that looks interesting. Pretty soon you find yourself sucked into watching a show that seems entertaining, but when you finally do shut it off 2 hours later, you realize that you just wasted 2 good hours of your life. And you could have spent those 2 hours sleeping.

Even though my days of freedom could be at an end (had another interview today), I am determined to not let my 9 hours of sleep per night fall by the wayside. I have discovered the secret to having energy and I’m not going to let Conan, Parks and Recreation, or the Chicago Code steal it from me!