You can choose to prepare a marathon running project by starting a to-do list, as many of us are used to. We have learned to make to-do lists as the first thing on a new project. But why do you choose the project and what should guide/drive you through the project? 10 Motivational Tips to Prepare You For a Marathon is about your driving force and motivation to complete your marathon training project.
Motivation in marathon training
Motivation is the key factor in succeeding with your marathon training goals. Through a long-running program, you need to maintain your immediate enthusiasm. There will be days of exuberant running joy and days when you rather would have stayed home on the couch.
It’s about how you motivate yourself all the way to the goal. The intention is, that you can get through the days when you might face adversity and get out the door to run, even if it is raining.
The Motivation Ladder
There are two ways, that motivate us:
- We want to avoid something. So, we want to move away from it. It could be moving away from being obese.
- We want to attain something. So, we want to move towards it. It could be moving towards being slender and healthy.
The point: We want to avoid Pain by moving towards attaining Joy. The two twin targets that control our lives.
When starting to prepare a marathon training project such as training for a half- or full marathon race, it is therefore important to know something about motivation, as it is a big challenge for most people. It will ensure that you reach the milestones, you have set up along the way. We can use the motivation ladder to lead us on the way.
If you look at motivation as the driving force that should move you towards the goal, then you can imagine a ladder where the bottom step is demotivation. This is where you do not start a running project at all because you are convinced that it will fail.
If you take a step higher up the ladder, you will find external motivation where you run because you feel compelled to do it, by the outside world – an external standard. For example, you may feel pressured by your colleagues to participate in a company race, but actually, you don’t want to participate!
The third step on the motivation ladder is also an external motivation, but an ingrained motivation where you run because you feel obligated or you have a notion, that others expect you to stay healthy or look good. You get a bad conscience if you do not train because you should.
The fourth step on the motivation ladder is identified motivation – your motivation here goes from being controlled by something external to being controlled by something internal. Now you run because your identity as a well-trained person is connected with running.
When we move to the top of the ladder, we reach the true inner motivation where you run the long distances, solely because you like it and you want it. It’s cool and nice, and you have no other reason to run. The motivation has become an integral part of you, so you run because running is an important part of who you are.
Find your true inner motivation
As you can see, it is important to find your true inner motivation because then you will keep running, even when it gets difficult from time to time. So, it will be a good idea to find out why you are running and why exactly you would like to complete a long-distance run, completely independent of what others might think and expect.
With that knowledge, you will be able to find your inner motivation and running joy much easier, which means the top step of the ladder, every time you face challenges such as sick children, long working days or when minor injuries, starts to erode your motivation and the genuine desire to train as much as it’s required in a long-distance running project.
Because of that, you can start working on your motivation the moment you start looking consciously at your joy by running the long distances. You must of course focus on it and develop it over time. You can also investigate and maybe focus on the pain/disappointment by giving up halfway when the program starts to get tough and requires time and effort of you.
The more you can convince yourself, that there is pain associated with giving up – something you want to avoid – and the joy associated with continuing moving forward towards your goal – something you want – the greater your chance of complete the marathon project.
We have different motives
How we use pain and pleasure differs from person to person. Imagine you are standing on top of a high-rise building with an identical high-rise building next to it. Someone has now laid a steel beam across the abyss between the two high-rise buildings, and you are asked to cross the beam from the high-rise you are standing on to the other.
Some will do it if they are offered a large sum of money because they are happy with all the things they can buy for the money when they reach the other high-rise. Others will only do it if the other building is on fire and their children are over there in danger of perishing in the fire – they are doing it to avoid the pain of losing their children.
So, it’s a good idea to think about what motivates you when you think of long-distance running, is it primarily the thought of the joy you want to achieve or the thought of the pain you want to avoid? The example shows that you can achieve your goals with both forms of motivation.
You are no more motivated if you focus on the joy of reaching your goal than if you focus on the pain of not achieving it. However, away-from motivation tends to be strongest, as most people will do more to avoid pain than to attain joy.
Preparing a marathon training project – focus on the joy
Let’s assume you are the type who would go out on the steel beam because you get a large sum of money. In this case, you need to focus on the joy, you can achieve by reaching the finish line in your marathon project. You need to focus on your “moving towards motivation”. Then it would be a good idea if you imagine, how happy and proud you will be by getting success in reaching your goal.
Feel free to use all your senses, when you imagine how it will be to reach your goal and how a great inspiration, you will be to others when you show that you dare to go after your dreams and set yourself a high goal.
Be aware of other positive effects because your success as a long-distance runner will affect other areas of your life. You will achieve much higher energy, lose weight, get better health, a better mood, a greater ability to concentrate and a greater surplus for family and other projects in your life.
Also, remember to focus on yourself and the relationship with yourself. You run for you and not because you want to live up to, what you think others expect of you. It can be a benefit, to write down all the good things about long-distance running, so you can return to the list if your motivation drops along the way.
Preparing a marathon training project – focus on the pain
Let’s assume you are the type who would go out on the steel beam, to save your children. In this case, you need to focus on the discomfort of e.g. drop out halfway in the program. Describe for yourself, how much you will hate yourself if you continue to use bad excuses for not challenging yourself as a real long-distance runner and how sad it will be, to see others stand with the finisher medal around the neck while you are still running the usual 4 kilometers one time a week!
Also think about how much you will increase in weight, how you predispose yourself to cardiovascular diseases and other lifestyle diseases if you completely stop running and moving e.g. because you have disappointed yourself by giving up your marathon dream. Use these horror scenarios to maintain the urge to get out and run even on those days when, for various reasons, it’s easier to drop it.
Release the fear of failure
By looking at your pain/Joy motivation that can prevent you from succeeding with long-distance running, will also help you in preparing a marathon project. If you are very scared that you cannot complete your project of running long distances or think, that you probably get injured by running long distances and that your body can not cope with the load, it is easy to give up already at the beginning of the program.
The unpleasant notions of long-distance running you focus on as e.g. failure can grow stronger than the discomfort of giving up. The super coach Tony Robbins says “where focus goes energy flows”. Maybe this is why you still run the 4k once a week even though you want to be able to run much longer, and that you come up with many excuses for yourself to postpone your training runs.
The pain of the fear of not succeeding has become greater than the pain of giving up and then you drop out of the project. What you can do here is being aware of connecting much greater pain to giving up than to keep going.
Or to connect such a great joy of continuing to run and overcome all the obstacles you encounter along the way, that it outperforms the pain of having to risk a defeat.
You can create a lot of great reasons to prepare and start a marathon training project. It’s a matter of how you control the mind to match your motivation direction. What determines how to control your mind is your focus. Be aware of what you focus on and you can begin to move in your chosen direction. It’s a skill, that anyone can learn, you just have to practice doing it.
If you are interested in running and motivation, I hope you get something out of this post and if you have any questions about the topic or want to leave your own Personal review, please leave a comment below.