For the everyday athlete, hobby jogger, or weekend warrior, workout motivation comes in many forms. Maybe you’re working toward a weight-loss goal, are training for a bucket list race, or simply can’t resist getting out for a run or ride once that flawless fall weather hits. But then, of course, there are the days when no goal, group fitness class, or cool breeze can get you out the door. And when those can’t-stop-hitting-snooze days roll around, it can be really hard to get out for a four-mile tempo run or long training ride.
Think you’re alone in your state of waning motivation? You’re definitely not – and in some cases, you’re in really good (and really fast) company. Molly Huddle may be one of America’s greatest distance runners, but the Polar athlete admits she, too, suffers from the occasional bout of not feeling it. (Professional athletes, they’re just like us!) Here’s what Huddle has to say about getting through periods of low motivation – and what she does to bring it back.
Running is your job – so are there ever days when you don’t feel like going to work.
Molly Huddle: Definitely! I’ve been running professionally for 10 years, and have logged countless miles during that time. So of course there are times when it just feels like Groundhog Day and you don’t want to go out the door. For me, that usually happens because I’ve been doing the same run or route over and over.
How do you bust out of those ruts?
MH: It helps to mix it up a little bit. My schedule is really precise, but every once in a while it’s nice to add new routes or challenges on the run. Maybe I’ll go somewhere with a lot of hills, or if I’ll travel somewhere warm during the winter so I can run there. New challenges definitely help. I also tend to do a lot of the same races, especially road races, so checking new races off my bucket list has been a good way to get me excited.
What about when you’re feeling burned out, fatigued, or tired?
MH: In those cases, it’s not the end of the world to take a day or two off to refresh and let my body recover. I’m pretty good about taking note of the early warning signs of being tired, and I try to catch it as soon as I can. At the end of the year, I always take a week or two off – which is actually hard for me! I’m always ready to get right back at it. Running is my job, so if I take two days off, I don’t really have much else going on! So I imagine for other people, who have “regular” jobs, a few days off from running would be even more refreshing.
What is your relationship with your body like?
MH: As a professional athlete, you always hope you get along with your body! There are times when your brain wants to do things your body isn’t agreeing to, but so far I’ve been really in tune with it. I don’t try to run through injury or extreme fatigue. I feel like I’ve had a good level of longevity so far, and that’s the secondary goal.
The primary goal is to have one of those once-in-a-career performances. Some athletes are willing to sacrifice longevity to get one of those really big ones, but I’m good about not abusing my body. I go to the chiropractor often, I get massages, and I do physical therapy proactively. You can train as hard as you want, but if you’re injured before an important race, it all goes to waste. Even during the race, I constantly try to read my body as far as how hard I can push.
What would you say drives you?
MH: There are still so many accomplishments I want to go for and things I want to check off. I feel like if you get to a place where you feel you’ve maxed yourself out, that’s when you start to lose motivation. But I have things on the list that I don’t even know if I can do, like winning a major marathon or making an Olympic marathon team. Those are really high on my list. I really want to medal at a world championship, too. When you have those big things driving you, you never lose motivation.
How do you feel about being an inspiration to other athletes? Does that add pressure, or does it fuel you?
MH: It’s definitely a big motivator. I know I’m so inspired by my peers and fellow athletes – this was especially true at the recent world championships in London. The U.S. won like 30 medals, and so many of them were distance medals. So those were my friends out there! I walked away really inspired and motivated after that, and I hope in some ways I can be that person for other athletes. That’s always the goal and something I hope for. I get motivated watching my friends compete in inspiring ways and with integrity – it’s cool to have that many role models!
Who are some of your role models?
MH: When I was in college, I definitely looked up to Deena Kastor and Shalane Flanagan. Even though Shalane was only a few years older than me, she was doing these amazing things that I wanted to do. And Kim Smith, who I came to train with in Providence. Plus, of course, watching Meb Keflezighi win an Olympic medal and two majors, particularly the Boston Marathon – that’s definitely something I look up to a lot. It’s also cool because in some cases you’re friends with these people and you’ve trained with them, so you can say, “If they can do it, I can do it.” That goes a long way adding motivation.
You mentioned your racing bucket list – which races are on it?
MH: I’ve always wanted to run the Boston Marathon. And there are so many classic road races in America that I want to do, like the Beach to Beacon 10K in Maine. And I’ve always wanted to do the major marathons – nothing tops a major.
What’s next on your race calendar?
MH: I’m focusing on the marathon for the next year. I’ll fit two into my schedule in 2018. My dream would be to make a third Olympic team, this time in the marathon. But right now I’m taking it one race at a time.
Molly Huddle’s Top 3 Tips for Getting Your Workout Motivation Back
- Have a group or buddy to meet up with. “If the weather is bad and you don’t want to get out the door – maybe it’s cold or dark – meeting a friend will make the run so much more enjoyable,” Huddle says. “And I guarantee it’ll go by quicker. Plus, you can’t let your friend down and not show up.”
- Listen to good music. Huddle makes playlists for new seasons. “My current favorite is Jay-Z’s new album,” she says. “Last year I listened to a lot of Beyoncé. I generally like pop, hip hop, electronica – anything with a good, high-energy sound.”
- Commit to a new challenge. “It can be a new route, fresh terrain, or a cool new experience,” says Huddle. But whatever it is, go all in.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.