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March 4, 2005

Human Motivation and desire

Today I ran the same 5.5-mile loop at lunchtime. This time I ran it in 45 minutes! Thatís just over 8-minute miles. I ran three times this week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And I actually felt stronger and recovered quicker after this run than I did the previous two times.
But what motivated me to do it? Today I didnít feel like running at all. I really was wishy-washy and unmotivated to go running. On Monday when I ran I felt like quitting three times but today I felt like quitting before even starting. Part of the problem was that I told myself that I didnít really need to run today. This is after all the most Iíve run since beginning to run about 9 weeks ago.
I asked myself, ďHow do I motivate myself to do something I donít have to do?Ē This applies to other areas of my life also, like language learning, playing my trumpet, cycle racing, house cleaning, book editing, blogging, reading, experimenting, volunteering, working, etc. Well, some things a person could argue have to be done, like house cleaning. But even that is a choice and life goes on even in a messy house. I donít have to do it, so sometimes I let it slide. Thatís the idea behind this topic. I let it slide because I donít really have to do it and I know it.
But that doesnít mean that I want to let things slide all the time. Some things like cleaning, I donít let slide because I want a clean house. The desire to have a clean house overrides my lack of desire for cleaning. So it seems to me that even in the case of physical training, if I want to motivate myself to do what I donít have to do, I should look at changing my desire. I may want to be in better shape and be able to compete well in bicycle races, but if I know I donít really have to do this, which believe me I am fully aware of, then itís easy to let it slide. ďJust this once wonít hurt. I can start again on Saturday or Sunday.Ē
When troubleshooting anything, Iíve learned to look for the root causes, and not just treat the symptoms. For instance, the running itself is not the problem. Cycling is not the problem. Once Iím out doing that Iím loving it. Exerting myself on the hills is not the problem, because I really get into exerting myself and pushing myself beyond my known limits. The problem lies in my desire to do it. Do I really want to do it or not? So to solve this problem, I have to look at my desire to run, be fit, improve, get stronger, get faster, etc. If I really want to do those things I will do them. If Iím not doing something I think I want to do, then I have to ask myself why I donít want to do this. I didnít want to run at lunch today because I was being lazy, and because I forgot my overall goals and how important continuous training is for those goals. In order for me to get stronger and in better shape, I have to exercise regularly and not let it slide. Continuing this troubleshooting process I realized that I had to remind myself what my goals were in order to keep things like my fitness from becoming a lower priority than doing nothing. In fact, I can flip that around and ask myself, ďWhat kind of a priority am I placing on sitting at my desk vs. going out and running?Ē and ďWhy is that a higher priority than running?Ē
Do I still want to improve my fitness level? Yes.
Do I still want to get faster? Yes.
Do I want to continue running all year to prepare for that triathlon in August? Yes.
Do I want to be stronger and faster in cycling? Yes.
Do I want a well-balanced fitness approach that combines multiple forms of exercise that target different muscles? Yes.
There are some other reasons or higher motivations I didnít list here, but I also said, ďYESĒ to those.
I thought, ďMan, If I want all these things, then why am I sitting here on my butt?Ē So I went out and ran and it felt great! I even pushed myself a little harder to make it in 45 minutes.

I guess you could call this self-talk, but itís also troubleshooting. There was a problem, and it was not with the running itself, it was with my desire to do it and the priority I made it because of that desire. So to solve the problem, I had to change my desire. I did this by reminding myself of my overall goals. Again, seeing the bigger picture and putting this one task in that light helps me change my desire to do it. I also looked at what the alternative to running was doing for me and asked why that alternative should have a higher priority than running. Sitting at my desk during lunch today was not what I wanted when I wanted all those other things.

Posted by carl1236 at March 4, 2005 5:04 PM | motivation