When I was very young and went to Sunday school we used to sing a song with the name of the title above and we used to enjoy adding ‘burning, burning, burning’ to the end of the line when it was not required.
More recently I have been thinking about motivation and what makes people able to get out there and do what they have to do day after day but mostly about what motivates people to get their running sessions done.
For me there has be some kind of ‘lamp’ burning inside or a fire in your belly which makes one hungry to train, be healthy and improve. Some people don’t want to improve and are happy to stay where they are but often these are the same people posting on facebook about their latest PB that they weren’t expecting. Stealth improvers perhaps?
I read something recently about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Some people are motivated by outside factors; race t shirts, medals, people congratulating their efforts on facebook and other social media platforms. This is extrinsic, and is all well and good, but if a number of those things are taken away, as they are in a pandemic there needs to be something else going on internally that drives you to get out and train just for you and the joy of running and possibly improving. Several things can help provide this internal flame.
Find a running buddy
Whilst running in the recent snow and ice I saw no runners one morning but several dog walkers and it made me think about the commitment to someone else, in this case the dog and how motivating this can be. Having someone to train with will mean you are much more likely to keep a commitment to run and not to find a reason not to go.
Setting process goals
Having a goal to work towards can be incredibly motivating. Sometimes people focus on ‘outcome goals’ which are specific times or finishing in a certain position in a race or beating a known competitor. These are good and can be motivational but there are too many variables that could affect the way they turn out so they are a little unreliable.
If you add process goals to your outcome then you have more control and so successful achievement is way more likely. A process goal might be:
‘I am going to get out 3 times a week and complete 1 speed session per week for the next 6 weeks’
You would of course determine what the speed session would look like but once established and written down it would be hard not to go through with it. And if the process is carried out correctly the outcome will often follow.
Why do you run?
Stripping it back to the sheer enjoyment and exhilaration that you feel when running and what got you into it initially can also help to get you out the door. Forget the watch and just go out and run. Breathe in the air, look around you and notice how your body feels as you are running.
Whatever it is you choose to do to motivate yourself remember how lucky you are to be able to run and how miserable you can feel during periods of non-running due to injury.
Put oil in your personal lamp, get out there and keep it burning, burning, burning!