Last week, I was talking about not knowing what to write about and my friend asked me, "Why don't you write about what motivates you, when were you excited to get out and run? Why?" We kept chatting and the conversation lead to a discussion about things that DE-motivate as well. Have you ever thought about that? How we have motivators and demotivators that impact us? I realized the topic fit well with my usual Monday blog posts - and I wouldn't just need to rip something off Pinterest. This is a bit long, but stick with me, I promise it will be worth it.
So, what DOES motivate me and get me excited to go out and run?
The answer for me is pretty simple. Success. When I see improvement and positive results, I want more. That gets my butt out the door and to the gym or motivates me to eat better.
Success as a motivator for me also explains why bad runs or bad workouts are so frustrating. I need to feel successful or I lose motivation. I've been struggling with this quite a bit since I got injured last spring. It seems I'm always in a cycle of 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Luckily, the math works and I'm still moving forward, but it's still hard to feel motivated to train when you think you're failing. It's also very difficult to set your sights in the far future.
Training hard now for a race in 4 months is tough. But, if you have a good run during that training, you get excited to have another good run. I think most training plans are set up to help give you some success in this regard. You aren't asked to go out and run 10 miles on your first long run (unless, perhaps, you're training for a marathon and you've been running consistently for a year - that's a bit different). You start slowly and build your way up, thus ensuring some element of success and reducing the chance you'll get injured.
What are some other motivators?
I can see redemption in there. I'm often motivated to redeem myself after a bad workout. I think my 5k PR was fueled by some of that need to redeem what I felt was a very bad performance at Disney.
Anyone ever get motivated by anger? A very dangerous motivator because we tend to think irrationally, often reacting. Get pissed. Go for a hard run. Get injured. I've never done this, though. (yah, right)
Vengeance? Maybe you run to get back at someone.
Are these positive motivators or negative motivators? They all have the potential to motivate you out the door, but is success (as a positive motivator) better than a motivator that is more negative? Think about positive and negative reinforcement you may use with your children. The addition or removal of something can have a positive result, but It's a gamble. (Psych 101 lesson: Remember, "negative reinforcement, by definition, is the removal of a stimulus to increase a desired behavior, as opposed to "punishment" which is the addition of a stimulus to reduce an undesirable behavior.) The results with using negative reinforcement can be mixed. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Typically positive reinforcement (and in the case of this post - positive motivator) is more effective. You always win regardless of the outcome. Does this make sense?
My friend used the analogy of the movie, Monsters, Inc. to describe the concept of positive and negative motivators. The monsters needed energy, which they traditionally got by scaring kids. That's motivation by fear - a negative motivator. Somewhat effective. Laughter - the positive motivator - was much more powerful. They used a negative (fear) to produce a positive response (energy for their city). It was a different motivating factor. Laughter was much more powerful than fear.
What about DE-motivators? Feeling I've failed is a demotivator for me. Demotivators would produce negative results. What are some other demotivators besides the sense of failure?
I would say stagnating is a demotivator. Not failing but not improving either. I think this is a great reason to mix up your goals or your workouts. Your body gets bored just as easily as your mind. Mixing it up helps keep you from feeling stuck in your workouts.
What about a lack of encouragement? I know it's important to motivate yourself, but sometimes it's nice to have someone we love tell us they're proud of us: for working hard, sticking with a training plan, for setting a new PR, or just for getting off our butts. If we don't hear these this, we might not keep working at it.
The key is to turn these demotivators or negative motivators into positive motivators. When you find something that's blocking you - demotivating you - what do you do to turn that around?
The challenge is to turn those bad runs or workouts into positives.I've been thinking about this conversation all week and I want to know what you think, and I want to reward you with some positive motivation for telling me :)
As my way of saying "thank you" for the past year of following me here on this journey and helping to motivate me, I'm going to give one lucky reader their choice of something else that helps motivate me: $20 worth of iTunes music or coffee from Starbucks in the form of a gift card. Winner's choice. :)
How do you enter?
- For a mandatory entry, answer my question: When you find something that's demotivating you (a negative motivator) how do you turn it into a positive?
- For extra entries, share this post/giveaway on twitter, your own blog, or Facebook. You can do this once a day between now (Monday) and Thursday - that's 4 extra entries. Just make sure you leave me a comment and the link here each time you do this so I make sure to count them. (Make sure you mention me in your tweet: "Hey, @barif0815 wants to know how you turn negatives to positives and is giving away a gift card as a thank you" and link back to this post.)