Look, it happens to everyone. Some days you do not want to run. Your head is listing innumerable reasons to skip running for the day.
The pressing issue is what you do now. Later, we need to unpack what is causing low motivation. But since you are reading this and not running, let us take our time and properly get you back running.
What Causes Low Motivation?
Often it is a simple, isolated event. Your body is weary from weeks of hard training, which is normal and will pass shortly. Stick to your training and give your body extra rest and recovery. I try to sleep more during these times and hydrate more throughout the day. I also pay closer attention to my diet, reducing sugar and increasing my healthy vegetables and protein intake. Sometimes my fatigue is a symptom of low iron , and I will eat more dark leafy vegetables or red meat.
Low motivation can be a deeper issue. Running is a simple activity, but it is hard. Training for an event or race demands sacrifices on your time, friends, and family. You must have a clear reason for why. Periods of low motivation often coincide with questioning your why. Why are you running? Why are you getting up early and going to bed late? Why are you taking time away from your loved ones? Again, this happens to everyone, even elite athletes chasing a clear why, such as the Olympic Games.
Journaling is an effective technique to reinforce your why. The simple act of writing to yourself for five minutes can strengthen your reasons for running. Set aside 5 minutes, grab a sheet of paper, and try these prompts:
I love running because…
Running makes me a better person because…
I love how I feel after a run because…
How will I feel after I finish my goal event or race?
Sometimes, low motivation is a phantom feeling. Steve Pressfield, in his must-read book War of Art, captures the sentiment perfectly.
“You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you. Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.
Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”
What To Do Now?
What do you do on low-motivation days?
You make yourself run. You get started. You take small steps to keep moving forward. Start by putting on your running clothes. Then switch to your running shoes. Head out of the door and do a dynamic warmup. You can do this, right? Tell your skeptical self that you are not running, just moving.
Keep going. Do a 10-minute warmup warm. Tell yourself that you will stop for the day if you still do not feel like running. You can do that, right?
Most of the time, you will keep going with your planned run, in my experience. Once you start running, you will remember how good running feels. Maybe today is not the day for your hard speed, tempo, or long run. That’s okay. You can be flexible in a training block without ruining your race. Try again tomorrow. The important thing is that you overcame the resistance of running today. You won. Tomorrow you can win more.