Half-Marathon Must-Have: Motivation

011E4552-44CA-4D2E-AD8A-194D2B3DEF8CAccording to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, motivation is defined as “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something; the condition of being eager to act or work; a force or influence that causes someone to do something.” According to people? Well it depends. It can be found in one person, a group of people, a breakfast taco, a pint of beer, a past/future event…the list could go on and on.

Despite this never-ending list, there are still moments where I feel completely unmotivated. In theory, it seems impossible. In practice, it’s easier than I care to admit.

Running and training for the Austin Half is all I think about now. Am I eating properly? Should I have cross-trained today? Did I get enough sleep? It has affected me in more ways than I thought it would. Again, if you’re just coming into the conversation: the Austin Half Marathon is my first half marathon event, my first running event, my first exercise-related event. It’s a big deal to me. On top of that, this is the first sibling exercise-related event that my brother and I are doing together.

So back to motivation. Everyday is a struggle. I started running at the beginning of the year for two reasons:

  1. I was reading The Power of Habit.
  2. I needed an outlet for my feelings.

The Power of Habit talks about this habit loop, which is the way [the author] Charles Duhigg said we developed our habits. There’s a cue, the habit, and the reward (tangible or intangible). Needless to say, I turned running into a habit when I was cued by feelings and the reward was a smoothie. Well, at first it was a smoothie and it transitioned to something more intangible: a clear mind. I ran and ran and ran until I had no feelings. Jk, I ran until I got injured.

There’s a lesson in here I swear. After I healed from my injury, wherever I was in my mind, I didn’t have as many feelings and so I had no idea why I was running. There wasn’t a cue for me, I didn’t feel inclined to run. So what happened? Did Thu lose her soul?

No, no I didn’t. But since I’ve started training, really training, my motivation needed to change. My running cue started at my own feelings, but turned into something else. One day I was running for food, another day I would run for my brother, two weeks ago, I dedicated my long run to BatKid (5 miles for each year he fought cancer).

So This Is What I’m Going To Say About Motivation:

  • You have to find it. Whether it is yourself, your tacos, your favorite quote from your favorite author, your mom, or your dog. You’ve got to find something or someone.
  • It’s not easy. I’d be delusional to think that it’s easy. I usually text someone when I prep myself for a run. Sometimes they get back to me, sometimes they don’t. I think the action of me telling someone I’m going to run, commits me to do it. Maybe try that out, I don’t know. It’s all a learning process.
  • I guess as I’m typing this, I’m realizing that there can be a transition of motivation as long as it’s getting you to your goal. For whatever reason, I thought this wasn’t possible. Sometimes I run a little slower because my motivation isn’t as strong, but at least I committed to the day and I did the run/cross-train. You have to start somewhere, right?
  • Lastly, sometimes I tell myself I can’t eat until after I run. I read in Runner’s World that if you’re working out for less than 30 minutes, you can get by without eating. On those days, it’s hard on both ends, I’m hungry and I’m over-exhausted toward the end of my run. But when I get to the finish line (aka my apartment)? Oh sweet tacos and soda, you’re all mine. (Soda = simple sugars, stop judging me.)

So tell me, what or who is your motivation?

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