“A runner must run with dreams in his heart”
– Emil Zatopek
What motivates you to run? If you’re someone who just loves running for the sheer “fun” of it, that may seem like a daft question, but think about it for a moment − is every run you go on a fun experience? What about those runs when you’ve really pushed yourself to the point of throwing up; or those runs when you started out in glorious sunshine only to find yourself being pebble-dashed by a hail storm, at the furthest point from home, of course! Is it still “fun” that motivates you on those runs, or is there something else driving you to keep running? And, perhaps more importantly, driving you to willingly repeat the experience!
Motivation can be split into two main categories:
1. Intrinsic motivation – this comes from within, or from the inside out. When you are an intrinsically motivated runner, you run purely for the love of running. You are driven by the “buzz” that you experience through running, come rain, hail, or shine! Your drive to keep running comes from the enjoyment it brings, along with the thrill or the challenge of improving your skills.
2. Extrinsic motivation – this comes from external sources, or from the outside in. When you are an extrinsically motivated runner, you run for some form of reward other than the just the pleasure of running for running’s sake. This might be medals, trophies, or prize money, and it’s possible that if you’re motivated in this way, removing these rewards from the equation might lead to you giving up on your running.
However, you may be motivated both intrinsically and extrinsically depending on the circumstances, and the two basic categories don’t cover every running situation you may find yourself in. Try asking yourself these questions…
…if your level of skill as a runner made it unlikely that you’d ever be a serious contender for a prize winning place in the races you chose to enter, would you continue to train and race anyway?
…after qualifying heats, you’re no longer in a position to compete for the top prize. Would you still feel motivated to take part in the remaining races, and put in your best effort?
If you can say, “Yes, I would” in both cases, you’re an intrinsically motivated runner, but, you may still need to consider whether in the second scenario, you might be choosing to continue racing because you’re motivated by the potential to win another prize that’s on offer. When that becomes the case, your motivation becomes extrinsic.
So, is it important to know what motivates you as a runner? Yes! Without motivation, why run? Without motivation, why improve your running? Without motivation, it’s not possible to achieve your full potential as a runner − knowing what motivates you matters! It’s only by knowing what motivates you to achieve more, that it becomes possible to create an effective training plan that will keep you on track to achieving your running goals. When you understand what motivates you, you have a powerful tool that you can use to keep you moving forwards, even when the going gets tough.