Running Motivation – How To Keep Negative Thoughts At Bay And Keep Going
When we decide to take up running we feel energised, excited, positive and motivated. I certainly did! We feel the buzz of a new idea, a new challenge, we can see our new better selves in not so distant future. Things feel positively great – but do they stay that way all along? How to keep up the momentum, that initial running motivation?
In order to achieve something, we need to want to achieve something, we need willingness to do something, we need motivation to drive us. Nobody will become a concert violinist without motivation (and a huge chunk of talent, admittedly). Nobody cooks that perfect dinner without motivation. Nobody becomes a brilliant recreational runner without being motivated.
Running motivation is a powerful driving force, a mental booster behind all running ideas.
I must admit, I always lacked any motivation to become a concert violinist, but at times I can prepare a fairly good dinner. When it came to recreational running I was motivated alright. Middle-aged physically inactive man, frustrated about not being able to climb several flights of stairs without losing breath.
Those were the things that would not get better with age. I had passed the point where the body was still developing, I’d passed that point around 38 years ago. At 52 I decided, fuelled by strong motivation, to become better physically.
I wanted to be able to walk and stand straight, loose some of that wonky stuff that was forming around the waist and generally feel better about myself.
The more I thought about the possible outcomes, the more my self-belief powered by motivation grew.
Is running motivation constant?
In my case it is constant, but there are times when it can be challenged. Whilst the plans are still on the drawing board, we tend to think positively about what we can achieve as amateur runners.
The challenge becomes real when we start venturing out. That’s where motivation is put to test. I somehow felt that there would be difficulties, although I wasn’t sure what difficulties to expect. I knew very little about running. However, I was always motivated by the end target, being able to run, and that always pushed my negative thoughts away.
What are those negative thoughts?
They are the ones that want to put a stop on your positive thinking, thinking created by your motivation. People are different and many are self-conscious. Many may find the thought of running in the park or in the gym with not much clothes on, and without a perfect athlete’s body, daunting.
Many may think it’s all a mistake, they would only embarrass themselves and will end up feeling stupid. ‘What’s the point in all this, I’ll never get anywhere…’.
How to beat those first negative thoughts and remain motivated about running?
Think of your target, think what you want to change about yourself! Remind yourself of what can be achieved, think of yourself as somebody who can do it with heart and backbone.
Remember, you are not practising to become a concert violinist, you simply want to put on a pair of shoes and take a spin in the park! Do you honestly believe that other park visitors will stand there and analyse a random person running around?
Realistically, nobody will even notice you. It’s your own world.
OK, now I’m in the park, nobody is noticing me… but running turns out to be more difficult than I thought. Why?
Any new physical activity is a learning process for mind and body. It will take years in a swimming school before a kid starts swimming butterfly.
When I took the first running strides I ran in a pair of inadequate shoes without insoles that I needed badly. My hips were out of balance, the out of sync body applied more pressure to one of the knees, the experience hurt me.
I was meant to go out and enjoy myself, not feel discomfort.
Some people would at that stage think that the whole running thing is a mistake, crazy from the start. Well, I didn’t. I thought, hang on. There must be a reason for this, let’s go and find out what’s causing the issues. The physio fixed my hurting runner’s knee, I got proper shoes that fit and also the insoles, the last missing link.
From then on my running changed completely. The discomfort was gone and I was ready to move on and focus on building up my endurance.
The more you run, the stronger you become, the easier it will all get.
Will negative thoughts come back?
Of course they will, they have nothing else to do but wait for our moment of weakness. The thing is they will lose the fight against positive thoughts empowered by strong motivation.
Anybody who’s been injured will know this. Anyone who’s come back from injury mentally stronger will understand this. Depending on your running journey there will be various obstacles, from injuries to bad weather or poor shoes and there will be some doubts in your mind.
Motivation can create positive attitude, and positive attitude will deal with negative thoughts and prepare you well for the next challenge.
In summary, who’s the winner – positive or negative thoughts?
That’s where we call the shots and we decide – I say positive all day long. Your motivation is strongly positive, without a doubt. You want to achieve something that is relatively simple and definitely possible.
An injury may delay your progress but an injury can heal. A longer or repetitive injury may start a flurry of negative thoughts where you might question your abilities, thinking of your journey as an utter failure but, hey, a good doctor may stop your injury streak and you can go back to running.
You are not exposing yourself to strains and pressures of professional competitive running, you are not even competing. You are taking a leisurely jog in a park, in your own time and place. No negative thought can ruin that.
When you are consistent, you grow more confident, the doubts and negativity will be pushed aside, you will feel more relaxed and free to enjoy your running.
No doubt, your running motivation can maintain you positive and take you all the way to any of your realistic targets – go and take them!
I hope that sharing my story, and what I have learned along this journey, will inspire you to get started and to keep going. To keep striving and being the best you can be. In running and in life.
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