My motivation has LEFT the building…

I’m sitting here, IN my running clothes, and I’ve missed my window. It’s time to hop in the shower and meet a friend at the farm market. I should have run. It’s been 4 days. I feel the motivation seeping out of me. I’m up a few pounds. I feel groggy. How do I get it back, that joy of fitness? This seems to always happen to me — I go great guns for a while, months even, and then I slowly lose steam. I know the answer is JUST DO IT. But again, another morning has slipped away, and the window is gone. There are so few windows of opportunity and it’s so easy to let myself get caught up in whatever else I’m doing.  Maybe tomorrow…

I posted that comment Saturday on Stephanie’s post On Fitness and Feeling Good.

I ran later that day, by the way.  After the farm market trip, I got home, and I realized I had time to run.  I looked outside, and it looked like rain.  And I almost didn’t go.  But then I did.

And I’m so glad I did.

Yesterday I ran again.  Again I almost didn’t.  Again I put it off till the last possible moment.  But I did it.

My knees hurt for the rest of the day.  I feel old and decrepit at 37.  I’m not sure I should keep trying to run, but no other form of exercise calls me in quite the same way.

I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.  My determination is waning.  I don’t look forward to it like I did in the beginning.  Every day begs the question:

Will I or won’t I?

In my very first post on running, my friend over at Hillcrest Cottage said this in her comment:

Every day is a new day to run…or not. A choice to be made every day. I think that is why runners get so fanatical about their pursuit because they are always one day away from NOT being a runner.

Maybe all things requiring discipline are daily choices.

That’s how I feel — the one day away part.  I know my pattern.  I know how I tend to give up on exercise after a time, and right now I’m at that juncture.

And this time of year is just HARD.  I struggle emotionally this time every year, with the fickleness of the weather and the busyness of the end of the school year.  Every choice seems heavy, even the simple ones.

I am much better now than I was this time last year.  So much better.  But I feel that emotional funk tugging on me, its fingers grasping at my toes as I try to swim away.  I credit my new eating habits and the running with my ability to keep my head above water, but it’s a daily battle.

Maybe all things requiring discipline are daily choices.

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35 Responses

  1. It is a daily choice. You have to decide, do you like the way you feel when you don’t exercise? If not, you have to do it. It’s like with most things, once you do it you realize it wasn’t that bad. The fact that you can identify the seasons when you’re less likely to keep up with your running is a good thing. Now you just have to figure out how to get around it. Maybe take up another form of exercise for that season or come up with a reward system as incentive.

    The painful knees is another thing. If it’s causing you pain, you may need to find something else. OR, go to a really good chiropractor who can adjust your knees. You’ll feel like a brand new woman!

    I’m praying that God would restore the joy of exercising for you and that the enemy can’t steal it away! If you hold tight to your Anchor, it won’t matter the seasons, you’ll be steady and sure.

  2. Daily choices are right. I am still in the enthusiasm phase of running. I have only been running since the beginning of March. However, I have been walking 6 days a week for a year. Those are much easier to try to skip. The number of times that I have said to myself, “Just give it 10 mins”. And I end up doing 30 or 40, just like I am supposed to.

    I also hear you on the pain of age. I will be 38 soon, and I was talking with friends on the acceptance of pain. Not sharp bad pain but general pain. I have a basic level of discomfort all day everyday. It is better when I exercise but still there. When I was 20 I would have stopped doing something because it hurt a little. Now, I just apply ice.

    1. LOL, I can so relate to that. And that’s what I’m trying to figure out. Perhaps just applying ice is all I need. But I don’t want to do lasting damage either. When I’m running, if my knees start to hurt, I walk for a bit, and then run again. I’m really trying to listen to my body and not push it.

  3. I’m so glad you went running anyway! I know how you feel. I’ve been running for 12 years. My 41-year-old legs feel the strain, and my mom duties provide a convenient excuse for not hitting the pavement, and my enthusiasm wanes even when I’m running well. And every time I take a week off for some complaint (achilles tendonitis being the most recent), it’s hard to get back into the swing of things, even if I want to. I remind myself, however, that the crummiest run is better than a day with no run at all. God’s earth is beautiful, and the sound of my feet hitting the trail is music to my ears. And, like the previous poster, 10 minutes turns into a nice long run.

    It’s nice to read a post on running this morning in particular–I coach a girls’ running program at my daughter’s school, and the girls ran a practice 5k this morning. They huffed and puffed, but they all finished. They are so proud of themselves and each other. I was going to excuse myself from my own run today, but the girls’ efforts and your post have reminded me that there’s no time like the present. Happy trails!

  4. Beautiful, poignant, and oh, so true.

    Why does discipline have to be a choice? I guess if it wasn’t, it would be sloth. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this. Struck a real cord, my friend.

  5. It is a choice. However, you really should have another activity you will do, hiking, riding your bike, swimming, etc. That way if you really don’t feel like running, you will do something. And doing SOMETHING, is what it is all about.

    1. Yeah, and I tell myself that. Sometimes I go out, intending to walk, so that I’m doing SOMETHING but then I usually end up running after a while.

  6. Oh, Jo-Lynne, I am right there with you. I’ve blown off the gym for the past week or so because I’ve been so busy here at home (getting my house ready for graduation!). But I have continued my 3 mile walks with my dog, so I justify it by saying at least I’m doing something.

    I’m glad you mentioned your knees. I’m 10 years older than you and I just cannot run because my knees hurt so badly. But walking is fine, and I love it. I think this is something I’ll be able to keep up forever.

    1. And I may have to switch to walking. I just find it so… well, boring, I guess. LOL. I want to move FASTER.

  7. Running was never a chore or even a choice for me. It was something I *had* to do. It was my escape maybe as I never felt as free as when I was running. I remember a time when, if I couldn’t run, it felt horrible. I had to stop for awhile because I had small kids and no one to watch them. Now I can’t run because of my knees. I’ve read a few posts of yours where you talked about knee pain. I really suggest seeing a doctor about it to find out if there’s something you can do differently or if there’s a problem. It could be the surface you’re running on, you never know. Concrete and asphalt doesn’t have the give that a track does.

    My story is different. I blew my right knee out and thanks to the location of the main injury in my knee, I can’t run. Or even walk very far anymore. (I need a knee replacement … they call it a ‘1 in a million’ injury and so far, I’ve said no to the replacement.) I don’t know if you read Fiddledeedee or not but she recently went to the doctor to check her knee pain out after brushing it off for awhile and found she needed surgery. You just never know with knees and I’ve learned to never take them for granted. Maybe your lack of motivation is stemming from the knee pain?

    That said, good habits can be hard to ‘set’. It’s so easy to fall into a ‘bad’ habit but the good ones require, as you said, discipline and so much effort. Hang in there. 🙂

    1. Hm. I did have my knees checked several years ago when I was trying to run, and they gave me one of those slip-on knee braces and said to ice them and such. I’ve considered getting a trainer who can help me do exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the knees, but again, I procrastinate.

  8. Works better for me when I don’t give myself the choice ’cause chances are I’ll choose, “No.” When I plan my day or wake up in the morning, it’s just a given…not “if”, but “when.” If I happen to sleep a little later than I had planned, then I have to find some other time during the day to fit in exercise. It’s a different kind of mentality that I need until I am truly disciplined. I’m also done with beating myself up about not exercising for one day or for a few in a row. That’s just life right now. Stuff happens and I know that, in general, I want to be healthy and I’ll get back on track, but I don’t have the energy to fret about about it anymore.

    Don’t get me wrong, there is value in dying to yourself and what you really want to do making choices to overcome our flesh…like choosing to get up and exercise instead of sleeping in an extra 45 minutes. That’s how we grow and become more disciplined. That’s how we can move forward and push past the pain when exercising. However, I’m weak and I won’t choose to exercise every day or every other day, for that matter. But…..that little mind shift of “when” not “if” has helped me tremendously with fitting in more exercise.

    1. Yep, and it’s when I have that “when” not “if” mentality that I can keep up the momentum. I don’t have a problem sleeping in; I usually have the problem getting caught up with my coffee and computer time and not wanting to leave.

  9. Oh gosh. I can so totally relate. Jeff and I have turned our runs into walks. I can endure longer that way, and–according to his iPod thingie–I burn more calories anyway.

  10. I had the same problem today. Well, actually, I’ve had the same problem since I completed my first 5k on May 1st. I think I need to sign up for another one right away so I have something to work towards.

    And I can totally relate to the quote about runners being fanatical about running because you feel like you are just one day or one missed run away from NOT being a runner.

  11. I recently watched a program on running vs. walking. Apparently, once we turn 35, walking is better than running. I even wanted to write a post about it.

    When we run, every time we land, there is a great pressure on the backbone disks. After we are 35, the disks are becoming more fragile. The pressure is becoming desctructive for the back bone, which leads to herniated disks and pack pain

    Before we turn 35, backbone disks are quite elastic, like as rubber, and the pressure does not affect us.

    So, they recommend either walking or using Elliptical Trainer instead of running

    1. Well boohoo. I like running. But I do some walking in there; I don’t run the whole time, and my total mileage is something like 2.5 so it’s not like I’m doing marathons. I hope I can keep it up, at least somewhat.

  12. “Maybe all things requiring discipline are daily choices.” This is a really good quote. I’m going to have to print this out. I think it’s good for running and other things as well. My life has always been about gung ho on something and then burn myself out and stop. Maybe having this quote out where I can see it all the time will remind me.

  13. Next time you are unmotivated try a new route or a trail run instead of the road or just do the 10 minute rule. If you still hate it after 10 minutes give up and go home but you probably will be enjoying yourself by the 10 minute mark.

  14. Still with the knee pain? Oh, you poor thing. Did I tell you that fish oil is supposed to help? I’m sorry, I know how frustrating knee pain can be.

  15. It’s so tough to find motivation and keep it. I think it would be good to find a buddy to exercise with. It’s more fun that way.

    I’m longing to get back to exercising, but can’t until my neck is healed.

  16. Well, I know exactly how you feel. I tend to be like that with many things in my life, not just exercise. Heck, I’m like that with cleaning the house! 🙂 I start all motivated, and then loose steam. And I can procrastinate with the best of them.

    Something that helps me sometimes (not all the time, mind you, because I don’t have it mastered), is something I read a while back. It was talking about losing steam in the middle of the day. The writer pointed out that marathon runners most always hit “the wall” in the middle of a race. You know, the point where they have lost steam, can’t go on, don’t want to run another step. But her point was that the marathon runner pushes through the wall and inevitably finds the energy to finish the race — sometimes to run even faster — on the other side of it.

    I’ve certainly found that to be the case. Looking at it from that point of view helps me to see my slow down as something more temporary that I must push past, versus the place where I always seem to end up. (Not sure if that makes sense. The writer explained it much better than I just did!)

    The other two things that help me tremendously are accountability and a goal. The only reason I get up and work out is because my husband does it with me. Having a partner really helps. But for something like karate (which I do on my own), the end goal motivates me to get myself to class even when I don’t want to go. I’m a year away from getting my black belt. I need the classes to meet that goal, so — like it or not — I drag myself there. 🙂 Maybe if you took on training for a big race?

  17. Oh wow. Heavy stuff today. I think you are right that the tough decisions have to be made daily. I think it takes a really long time to form a habit. Especially one that we don’t really love. You are like my health idol. I’m sure you’ll get back to where you need to be.

  18. I feel sometimes like I am one day away from not being a blogger. This concept is so true on many levels eating, training, and anything that requires faithfulness.

    Running and exercise are sooo great for emotional balance. Thanks for nudging me closer to the gym with your post!

  19. I feel the same way. It seems like there’s always something to do besides getting healthy. It’s so difficult to stay motivated. I actually hired a personal trainer to work out with me twice a week to keep me going. It’s a financial sacrifice, but it’s what I’ve gotta do.

  20. You know I joined a really good gym. Guess what the owner told me? she hates to work out. Huh????


    Honestly, that’s how I feel now. I don’t have to pretend to like it, and I don’t have to wait until i start to like it. I don’t like it. In fact, I hate it.

    Now that I have that worked out, I’m free to JUST DO IT.

  21. Knee pain aside, have you set a goal (like a 5K) that you’re working toward? I too have a love/hate relationship with running, and have had ever since I first started (for real) in 2003. I always always come back to it, but I realize I stay the most motivated when I’m working toward something. Pick a goal, create a reasonable training plan (not one born out of the ideal of “I’d love to run every day!”) and stick to it. But give yourself grace. If you miss your Monday run, do it Tuesday. Mostly, hit your weekly plan of mileage – I hate missing a scheduled run, but I do give myself slack to move stuff around and am satisfied if I just meet my weekly planned goal.

  22. Hang in there, this time of year IS hard. It tricks us – we think we’ve made it through a winter and we think we see the light at the end of the tunnel and really it’s just another train. Just focus on getting through until June 1 – it will be better by then. Or not. Either way, you’ll have run that much longer.

  23. I sooooooo get you on this one! I ran my first 5k last Saturday and haven’t run since. I just feel droopy and tired and lazy and totally unmotivated. What happened? I had a total high from my decent (for me) finish on Saturday, but couldn’t get my butt out of bed on Monday, Tuesday,…..
    Nice to know that I’m not the only one.

  24. What a profound comment from your friend! I completely agree that “Maybe all things requiring discipline are daily choices.”

    Thanks for inspiring me tonight. We’ve been walking and hiking frequently as family, but I haven’t been running much. I hope to get back into this fall (when the weather cools down)…if I’m not pregnant by then, that is. 😉

  25. Oh I have been there too!

    Its easy to fix problems like not having the right shoes, needing a running partner, even not having time, really. But that drive…you cant fake the drive. I find it so difficult to muster the motivation and answer the “why??” question. I can so easily talk myself out of my goal. Besides, Im not on my death bed or morbidly obese. I just want to loose a few pounds and inches. I think that’s the hardest. I like your friend’s take on it…one day way from not being a runner. I’ll have to ponder that and maybe it will muster some drive!

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