Thoughts on Motivation: PIVOT and WHY
Since I started running seriously (aka not in tag or after the ice cream truck… although, that is pretty serious), I have had many conversations surrounding the topic of motivation. Recently, the context of these conversations has included isolation from Runbuds and Swolemates, the cancellation/deferral of 2020 races, and the final result: no motivation to train.
To train, a definition by me: to exercise according to a plan that is designed to increase your fitness so that you can accomplish a physical goal. For runners, that means run and (hopefully) lift so that they can finish a goal race. We train so we can race. But many people have been disappointed to learn that their 2020 races are cancelled/deferred. So, why even train then? What’s the point?
This is where the wheels in my brain start turning. And what I come up with every time is PIVOT. When you PIVOT, you keep one foot planted while turning to change the direction you’re facing. This may adjust your goals, but it will give you direction and focus when forces beyond your control have created turmoil. In essence, you are purposefully taking back control.
Here’s my PIVOT. My 2020 races were all deferred to 2021. Now what? I have chosen other types of training to focus on to become stronger than I would if I was training for races because there is no longer any pressure to train for races. Therefore:
- I am focusing on rehab to strengthen my body and create the best recovery I can from the car accident in 2018 (yup, still working on that)
- I am challenging myself and my courage in new ways by mountain biking
- I am running in the aerobic zone to build a monster base that will launch me into the 2021 race season
- I am working intensely on personal growth and becoming the person I want to be
I choose joy and fulfillment and accomplishment as the themes of my training, and each aspect of my PIVOT satisfies those themes. My goals have shifted, but they are still aligned with the races I signed up for because accomplishing these goals will build me for my 2021 finish lines.
PIVOT. If you CAN’T run, there are many things to do! Learn orienteering so that you stop getting lost. Work on being able to do push ups because they’re amazing for developing full body strength. Become a balance Ninja. Build up to being able to bike from one end of Edmonton to the other. Learn how to do an inversion in yoga. Ooooorrrrr, GASP actually do your physio exercises and actually use the foam roller. Whaaaaat??? Yeah that’s right, I pushed that button.
PIVOT. If you CAN run, have fun with it! Reconnect with the love and joy that it brings to you because your body is amazing and it allows you to run. Take a self-guided running tour of historical places in Edmonton. Team up with a naturalist friend who can teach you about the Edmonton river valley as you run. Explore trails you’ve never been on, just to see where they go. Run through a dog park and stop to pet EVERY dog! Create your own DIY race. When the berries are ripe in the Edmonton river valley, run from patch to patch and treat them like they’re aid stations.
PIVOT. This is one half of the strategy I used to maintain my motivation to come back from below zero three times in the last 5.5 years to run and race again. I have suffered injuries and I can’t race right now? I’ll PIVOT, change the angle I come at it, and do things that will benefit me when I can.
The other half of my strategy is: WHY.
Ok, so shit hits the fan. PIVOT. And then what? Know and truly understand your WHY. This half of the strategy is the most important part for me because it is intrinsic and therefore is my ultimate driving factor. It is the one thing I return to over and over again. It is my reason, it helps guide me, it keeps me on my path, and it motivates me.
I have asked WHY of all of my clients. They start by giving me the surface answer. So I ask again. They go deeper. I ask a third time. They go to the bottom. Some of these conversations have elicited tears because of the emotional connection to their WHY that they didn’t know they had. And suddenly the motivation is stronger to achieve the goal, because the connection to the WHY has been made. WHY is this important to you? What does it mean to work towards this goal? What will it mean when you accomplish the goal? What emotions will you feel when you accomplish it? What positive changes do you want this make in you?
My WHY changes with my goals because different goals have different WHYs. And my WHY may change with time even though my goal may stay relatively the same. Or my WHY may remain the same while my goal shifts (PIVOT!). What matters is that I keep my WHY close to me and that I refer back it regularly. The more of a connection I can create to my WHY, the more motivated I am to pursue my goal.
When I ran Death Race last year, my WHY lived with me 24-7 from the moment I was gifted the entry into the race until I crossed the finish line. I was so intensely and completely connected to my WHY that it created a drive and focus like I hadn’t yet experienced. Literally everything I did was related back to how it would help me achieve my goal of crossing that finish line again because it was connected to my WHY.
PIVOT and WHY.
I am not any more special than the next person because I can maintain my motivation through super shitty times. No, I am not motivated 100% of the time. That’s an impossible expectation to live up to. Just like everyone else, I have periods of time where I struggle to be motivated or maintain my motivation. What gets me through is this strategy, which I have deliberately created and honed for myself.
It has helped me become the Master of Long and Difficult Journeys.
SPECIAL NOTE You do not need to share your WHY with anyone unless you feel comfortable doing so, because it can be extremely personal. Also, do not ever compare your WHY to someone else’s! They are incomparable, just as you are completely unique and incomparable to someone else. Each person’s WHY is theirs and theirs alone.
What is your motivation strategy??