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It is very easy to dream about completing an extensive four month training program in order to run the best race of your life. It is far a different thing to have the motivation to actually follow the program. There have been so many runners with limitless talent, but limited motivation, who never reached their potential. In order to get yourself out the door to train, it is important to know how scientists understand the psychological factors that limit motivation.
The general consensus is that the more perfectionist a person is, the more likely he or she will suffer burnout from an activity. Although demanding perfection can propel a runner to fast times quickly, the win at all costs attitude can also lead to over training, injuries, and a general lack of satisfaction with running. Perfectionists never seem to be happy with any race, no matter the time. Therefore, they never take any joy out of running and soon lose interest.
Running for Others
Another trait of burned-out runners is that they often run to please others. These runners are desperate to appear perfect for people around them and believes that their coaches, family, and friends expect nothing but perfection. The fear of letting down a coach or family member becomes overwhelming and causes running to be a stressful and dreary activity. Running only for others is such a dangerous attitude because it is not possible to win every race and impress every person. A runner who runs only to please other people will invariably fail and likely stop running because of the disappointment.
Running for Awards
Many runners love to brag about their high placings and awards. Some runners will only race in small local races because they know they can place high. However, focusing primarily on rewards as the reason for running will often lead to burnout. Instead of being so obsessed about winning a medal or award, runners will gain much more enjoyment by simply enjoying the feeling of racing.
The most effective motivational tool is the attitude of running solely to push our bodies and enjoying the feeling of health that running provides. With this attitude, awards and accolades becomes mere side effects of the more important to desire to run for personal enjoyment, health, and fun.
I urge you to take note of the following advice if you want to keep your motivation to run: (1) Train hard, but don’t be a perfectionist. Understand that no one is perfect and refrain from punishing yourself over a bad race. Instead, use it as a learning experience, (2) Run for your own personal enjoyment and not only to please others, and (3) Do not focus so much on awards and placing high in races. Rather, focus on the good feeling you get from running and the chance that running gives you to to push yourself and discover your potential. By utilizing these tips, you’ll be surprised how much easier running becomes.
Photo courtesy of tableatny