Running Motivation and Keeping Perspective: Don’t take your running for granted as it’s not always a ‘given’

It’s really easy to take running for granted. To just expect that it will there waiting for us, that our next run is available at our earliest convenience. We can take advantage of it all we want, get a little miles grubby sometimes, blow it off other times, but no matter how we treat it assume it will come crawling back to us like a pathetic lover.

sunset girls on beach

Getting a little too relaxed with your running relationship...taking it for granted?


Losing perspective is an easy trap to fall into, you get overly confident and secure in your body and its abilities, happens to the best of us. You’re feeling amazing in your workouts, you can no longer vividly recall the hot sting of an injury and being stuck cross-training, and running has turned into a ‘given’ in your mind.

A given. Thinking of it like that can lead to some lulls in motivation as well; naturally there are days where you’re not exactly relishing the thought of lacing up and sweating out the miles. That tempo run isn’t looking so tempting, you’re drained from a long day at the office, you’re wrestling with the urge to just blow off the date you had with running. You think, “Eh, who cares, I know it will take me back and be there waiting next time.”

That’s not true; and any time you need a little perspective on that talk to a runner who is just coming back from an injury. Their zest and zeal, their monstrous craving for any amount of running has reached a pinnacle point and their motivation is just as high.

For a moment, let’s imagine a charted line. An injured runner and their mood, their outlook on getting to run; when they first get the green light to go that line shoots up in a rocket climb. Each day they eagerly anticipate their sweat time and as they are able to run more and more it becomes a little more comfortable, familiar, repetitive. Time goes by and the line gradually evens out, it’s not flat-lining, but it’s leveling off.
fast runner
Months and miles stack up and this runner’s line maintains normal ups and downs like an EKG; the small spikes and dips are the usual days when you feel great and looking forward to that run, the other days where your legs are tired and you need to force yourself to get out the door and into that first mile.

This is a good, steady state to maintain of course, you don’t want to be constantly injured but there is NOTHING like an injury to give your frame of mind a little kick in the butt. Injuries, when you come back to finally running, are like hitting a little ‘reset’ button in your brain. You promise yourself that you will no long be overly greedy with your miles and workouts, that you will be thankful for each one you can do, cherish them.

But let’s be honest, after the ‘newness’ starts to wear off we all get careless eventually and slip into the little ways we can abuse our running relationship. Not huge offenses always: more instances of motivation lulls, skimping on the stretching or exercises we are supposed to do to keep us healthy, these types of things.

Though when we start to act the snotty high school boyfriend to our meek, running girlfriend we need to check ourselves:

* The next time you’re not looking forward to that grueling track workout…remember the last time you were injured and how you focused on the big running goals you wanted to achieve when you got back. Time on the cross-trainer was made bearable because you imagined that when you could train again you’d put everything you had into it. Remember there is a runner out there currently on a cross-trainer making those same pledges; now that you’re on the other side of the fence, make good on the goals you set for yourself and start that first interval.

* Next time you are not thrilled to be going out for a run, you’ve had a long day…remember there is a runner out there, fresh off an injury excited to be able to just run for 10 minutes. Force yourself to at least match that, more times than not you’ll keep going longer.

* When you are stuck on the cross-trainer…remember there is a runner sidelined and just out of surgery. Stuck in the bed they are anxiously awaiting the green light to do just something.

* The post-surgery runner in surgery…remember that it is a contiguous cycle, you’re at one of the low points but it will climb back up. Now is the time to set your sights on the future, set the goals for yourself on your road to recovery. Of course they need to be smart, baby steps but always have something to focus on ahead of you. Then when you are back and running, looking at that hard workout, remember your time spent setting those goals.
runner
The running cycle…can we cue the Lion King background music here for the circle of *running* life? 😉

Motivation will always be spiking like that EKG chart but don’t let yourself forget that running isn’t always a ‘given’ and it can be taken back a lot faster than you think. Be smart with your training and try to give yourself some ‘imagined’ perspective shifts rather than waiting for a stupid injury to give your brain the ‘reset’ for you.

1) What part of the running cycle are you in right now? Props to everyone at the top…shout it loud and proud!
I’m at the early coming back stages. 🙂

2) What are some offenses you are guilty of in taking your running for granted?
Wow, so many…but I like saying the term miles grubber so I’ll list that one.

3) How do you maintain perspective with your running; balancing smart training decisions and ensuring you get that next run in?

4) Name one thing that helps motivate you to get your run/workout in when you’re in a motivation lull.
Think of how I’ll feel when I’m done.

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27 thoughts on “Running Motivation and Keeping Perspective: Don’t take your running for granted as it’s not always a ‘given’

    • don’t worry, u’ve been doing AWESOME on all that cross-training, keep being patient and know that will pay back dividends as u are able to get back to the running training! 🙂

  1. um….I could not have said this better myself. coming up on 11 months of not being able to run much – just little tries here and there, but nothing that’s stuck – I honestly have a whole new appreciation for running, one that smaller injuries/shorter times off have never given me. You’re right ,we get hurt, we heal, we come back, and then we get complacent – we assume we can skip the stretches and the icing, we assume that we are invincible and we can just run whatever the heck miles we want every day, or that we can train hard every day, or that actually that little “10% rule” doesn’t apply to us…and then boom, we’re hurt again. I never in my life thought I’d be where I am now – I never thought I’d go this long without running. but there’s nohing like that to teach you how really incredible our bodies are, yet at the same time how fragile they are. I really really hope that if all this time off does anything for me, it’s that I will never EVER take my ability to run for granted ever again. I hope that if/when the day comes that I can train hard and race again, I will do things right and take the best possible care of myself because I’ll remember what happens when I get careless. Running is definitely NOT a given, and right now it pisses me off to no end when my friends treat it as such – it even pisses me off when people take cross-training for granted, because that’s not a given either! But you know, sometimes it takes an injury to really give you a swift kick in the booty and open your eyes to reality a bit – I know it did for me and I can’t wait to use my new perspective when I can train…I don’t know when that’s gonna be, but, i’m not taking any form of movement for granted!

    • yea, it is a ‘blessing in disguise’ going through a long, bad injury in terms of the perspective. now even when i’ve got an injury or annoyed about the elliptical i always think back to when i was either stuck sofa-slugging for months or only able to do the krankcycle…given the option even that blasted elliptical is a little slice of heaven! 😉 glad u loved the post!

  2. Cait, can I just say how glad I am to hear that you are making a comeback!! 🙂 I agree with this post 100%. Right now I am in pretty good shape…just get niggles every now and then that I KNOW just need a day or two of rest to get better. I used to be guilty of not taking this rest and then getting something worse. Other things I’m guilty of is like you too many miles…or running my easy miles too fast when I feel good. Also being competitive I hate to let people pass me on the sidewalk. Even when it really doesn’t matter. Motivation is easy for me. My little brother is severely handicapped and will never be able to walk or talk..let alone run!! I run because I can and thanks to him I will never forget that running is a privilege to be earned, not a right to be squandered. Wishing you happy and safe training 🙂

    • thanks for all the positive wishes, i am SO elated for any running time. 🙂 and that is such a motivation factor for u, not just to be thankful on ur end to run but also to look at him and see how HE is able to make the most of his own situation. wish him my best!

  3. Motivation to run is never a problem for me. Strange to say maybe, but I don’t think it’s that strange or unusual. Perhaps it’s depressing when I’m running on tired dead legs to wait for them to recover.Motivation I need is to stretch, eat healthy, and accept that I’m not 20 years old anymore.

    • haha…dude, u sound like me…i think a more fitting explanation of the days where starting is tough for me is more out of nervousness, or i guess anticipation because i either know i’m going to be tired feeling or it’s a hard workout and i know it’s gonna be a mind/body pain thing and want to do well on that front. 🙂

  4. i think right now im trying to find that “newness” again…that thing that keeps me motivated and loving getting out there every morning. as of now its hitting the trails and SLOWING down to enjoy the run rather than just “getting through it” all the time. so far its really working and i feel at peace with my running. i really related a lot to this post and feel like I have a lot to think about! thanks friend!

    • u have been doing a phenomenal job getting that ‘newness’ and finding wat refreshes running to u. i think just taking that HUGE weight of self-imposed stress has been insurmountable in rediscovering that passion. 🙂

  5. This is the one thing that I can always say is a benefit of injuries. It reminds us that we’re not invincible and that we should really appreciate running while we have it. Right now I’m one week away from being able to run again for the fourth time in a year. Four injuries in one year is crazy, but in this year I’ve seen my fastest times, my slowest times, lowest weight, my heighest weight, my lowest training weeks, and my highest training weeks. I’ve gotten to know my bodies limits and where I feel best. Hopefully I can take all that and use it so that I can run for longer without having to take time off, but I’ll always appreciate the time that I have running now!

    • u pinned it right on the nose and i have to say that i am SO proud of how u’ve handled this last year. think about it and how much u’ve grown…a year ago if u had faced ur most recent injury (umm, congrats on the upcoming return to running!) i think u’d have reacted much differently and not been able to cope and get thru it as well. this whole year has made u such a stronger person AND athlete. 🙂

  6. Cait,

    You hit this subject at the right time. I have a daughter struggling back from mono. She so wants to be back.

    • Dennis, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s mono…will you pass her along my best and tell her to focus on getting better and SOON her runner cycle will be headed up again and running will always be there. I’m sending all my positive thoughts!

  7. I’m coming off the newness and am starting to hit the everyday drudge.
    Something I take for granted… that it’ll always be there.
    Sometimes my hectic schedule keeps my balanced.
    That I only have to do a mile, because then I end up always doing more.

    • oh no, pry urself out of that drudge, missy and find something that excites u about the run. find some kind of fun challenge and set it for urself; do a little speed play or go discover a new route. 🙂

  8. This post right on!!! As I am training for something besides my favorite long distance races, I realize how much my running means to me. I miss just getting out there and running, but I know there is a fine line. I know that if I don’t keep my running workouts fresh I can get in a slump and dread them. I think that happens with any type of workout. But changing it up seems to help with getting bored and forgetting why I love it so much.

    • happy u relate to the post!!! u are doing some awesome training over there and i think ur point about keeping whatever u do ‘fresh’ is important…mix it up and love it up! 😛

  9. I have definitely learnt not to take it for granted – and perhaps never have as I came to running quite late in life and used to think I just ‘couldn’t’ do it (for more than 10 minutes at a time anyway). I feel really privileged on the good runs, and try to keep perspective on the less good ones!

    • stories of runners finding the sport later in life after swearing they could NEVER do such a thing are perfect examples of motivation. u guys get to look back of all the years of doubt and now say, “dang, i CAN do it after all AND kick butt!” 🙂

  10. As always, you put everything into words so gracefully!

    Anytime I’m feeling ‘blah’ about running, I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to run. I think about my poor patients at work who can’t even stand up. I think about myself when I couldn’t run for 5 months when I had a stress fracture in my pelvis.

    That’s how I try to mentally restart myself!

    • thanks for the kind words and i’m glad u have a nearly every-day way to be in awe of all that you are able to accomplish and be grateful. ugh, can we just start a club for ‘stress fracture haters’?? 😉

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