I’m dedicating this post to someone who recently contacted me about this – however I frequently speak to people who have this issue. They rarely run anymore because what they once loved now feels like a chore. Perhaps you have the same feeling but it’s toward another type of exercise, a job… or even a relationship! Here are a five questions to ask yourself to rekindle your fire!
- What did I originally love about it?
Think back to when you really loved to run. What got you to lace up your shoes and get out there? Perhaps it was the feeling of being outdoors in nature, but recently you’ve been rushed and have just been putting in treadmill miles. Or maybe it was the endorphins (feel-good chemicals) that rushed through your body and left you feeling exhilarated, but recently you’ve been stressed and so just push through your run to “get it over with”. Maybe it was the freedom, however now when you run, instead of letting things go, you just stare at your sports watch with demanding expectation each time.
Picture yourself back when you used to run and loved it. What elements were different that you can recapture now?
- What caused me to stop enjoying it?
Feelings of irritation or avoidance can happen if we push ourselves hard for a goal, sacrifice, and end up with results that are less than stellar in our eyes. Perhaps it was a race goal that didn’t pan out as expected, or even a bad string of workouts. This can leave us feeling dejected and not wanting to participate, or sometimes even think about, that activity anymore.
If this is the case, can you reframe the result from something negative into a positive? If you didn’t get the race time you wanted, what other good things came out of the training you had put in? Maybe you lost a few pounds or got into great shape. Maybe you worked harder than you ever thought you could. What did you learn about yourself in the process?
And if it was a bad race – sometimes we overgeneralize the situation. Just because one race at one time wasn’t ideal, doesn’t mean that all future races will be the same. You’ve gone through it – you’re smarter now. You’ve learned what works for you – and what doesn’t. Now you can focus on improving your training, schedule and strategies for next time.
If you’re going through a bad set of workouts, maybe you can look at something else that has been affecting you, such as poor sleep or compromised nutrition, that you can correct for the future. Again, learning from it, rather than staying down for the count.
Pulling out the positives can help motivate you to move forward toward new goals and new heights, rather than dwelling on perceived disappointments.
- Am I overwhelming myself with expectations?
Sometimes we set our goals so high that it feels overwhelming. We think it will take hours and hours of time, we must hit certain paces all the time, and if we don’t do that 100% then we’ve failed. It becomes demotivating to even think about.
I’m all for setting high goals, however it’s best to be realistic and set them to a level that you can achieve or is just above what you think you can achieve. Maybe your first goal is to just go for a run without any focus on time or distance, but for the sole purpose of enjoying it.
With small wins, you can have the confidence to move on to bigger things.
- Is my life in balance?
Sometimes burnout can occur when we do one activity to the exclusion of other things we enjoy. Even things we love to do need balance. If running feels like a burden, it’s OK to stop for a while. Even elite athletes are known to take up to a month off in their off-season or after a tough race. Studies have shown that up to ten days off of workouts affect fitness very little.
There are also health and mental benefits to cross-training or trying another type of workout. You may even find one you enjoy enough to incorporate from time to time on a regular basis.
And, even workouts need balance. For all the hard workouts you do, remember to incorporate recovery into the mix. This helps become stronger both physically AND mentally.
Also, what else is going on in your life? Are you extremely burdened at work or is a relationship or other issue taking it’s toll? Are you allowing someone else’s negative opinions toward your running influence the way you feel? Sometimes other issues can lead to an overall loss of motivation, so work on balancing things in your life as a whole.
- Have I been doing the same ol’ same ol’ a bit too long?
Perhaps every day you go out and run the same route at the same time of day. Or, your pace and distance are always the same. If so, spice it up! Add interval training – if even on the same route, alternate fast/slow running. If the route is convenient, try running it in the other direction, or even changing up a block here or there. Add some cross training, such as push-ups or squats after every few blocks.
Go trail running if you just run on roads. If you run alone, try running with other people, or volunteering to run with a shelter dog. If you always run from home, try a different route. Even driving a few miles away and just starting from a new location can open up a lot of new options. Run at a different time of day. Sign up for a race… or if you feel all you do is compete, don’t, and just run without your Garmin for a while, enjoying being mindful of the moment.
Overall, don’t be afraid to change things up for a while. And make sure to give yourself permission to do so. Feel good about what you are trying versus feeling guilty because “I should be…” Do what you need to do to stay healthy and well!
I work with people every day to develop strategies to improve health and wellness – contact email@example.com for how!
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Until then, keep Running with Life! – Coach Amie