Revive your motivation

Resident coach Andrew kastor is back with some advice on how to regain your running mojo.

I’m going to tell you something: No matter how driven, dedicated, goal-oriented, fast, fit or strong you are, no one is immune to pandemic fatigue or the lack of motivation that potentially comes with it. These are difficult times for everyone, which is why we need to stick together and continue to find ways to lift each other up.

How many of you have raced virtually this year? Have you raced (or do you plan to race) a virtual Marathon or Half-Marathon this fall? I always find that, more than anything else, having a foreseeable racing goal pushes me to get up and out the door on a daily basis.

Yes, I know—it’s hard to compare a virtual run to an in-person race experience. You miss the interaction with thousands of others at the race expo, the ridiculous porta potty lines, the crowded starting corrals, the volunteers cheering you on along the way, and of course, the iconic finish lines, coveted finisher medals and the shiny warming sheets wrapped around your shoulders when it’s all said and done.

But when you do a race virtually, you still gain camaraderie with thousands of other runners, you still get a feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line, and you still have a good reason to hit the road regularly.

Find your motivation

It might be difficult to keep going right now. Try to discover what will drive you forward. At the beginning of each season, I sit down with the elite athletes I coach and ask them about their goals for the next 16 to 20 weeks. Some common responses are, “I want to be the best I can be,” “I want to win a national championship,” or “I’d like to run a personal best in every distance.”

Then I try to help them narrow their focus, to get as specific as possible, which allows them to figure out what will actually get them out of bed in the morning and put in the work—to run 120 miles a week, lift weights 3 times a week and go to bed early each night.

Be thankful!

Sure, we might not be racing together for a while, but there are plenty of things to be grateful for while we wait to toe the line next year.

Gratitude is the most powerful of all virtues. Regularly identifying the people, places and things that you’re thankful for is a wonderful practice. Shifting your attention away from problems and challenges and toward beauty and joy in your life can boost your levels of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin (neurotransmitters that make us feel good).

Here are a few tips on how to create positive thoughts that serve you better, from my book, Keep Running: How to run injury-free with power and joy for decades.

  1. Rethink tough emotions by journaling them. This will help you understand and identify them more accurately.
  2. Don’t be disappointed by your disappointment. Feeling this way does not mean you are a failure—it just means you care about what you’re trying to accomplish. “I have not failed 999 times. I have simply found 999 ways how not to create a light bulb.” – Thomas Edison.
  3. Take frustration in stride. It’s okay to have a short fuse, but cut yourself some slack and manage your expectations. Be flexible.
  4. Ease sadness with gratitude. Sadness is a heavy emotion to carry around. It’s also a step in grieving—whether it's over the loss of a loved one or over something lighter, like not seeing the return to a normal racing calendar until next year. Identify your loss, but also be grateful to have loved or pursued someone (or something) that inspired you to feel so much. Contrary to popular belief, your mind cannot multitask, so if you’re focused on gratitude, then sadness and frustration recede into the background.