I reached out to Latif, (Latif Thomas), before writing this post. He asked me how I stay motivated especially given the fact that I run one of the most unenjoyable events in the sport. For the record, I don’t consider the 400H unenjoyable (short sprints on the other hand…).
Latif posed two questions.
What are three things you do or tell yourself to stay motivated when you are sore, tired, hurting, stressed, not performing well etc.?
How do you keep yourself motivated to give your honest best when you don’t feel like it?
A friend of mine tweeted “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something is more important than fear”. I’ve been reciting this to myself a lot recently. It’s become a mantra of sorts when I’m feeling anxious as well as a call to action when I’m feeling run down. I run through all of the things that are more important to me than fear: executing, rising to the occasion, the opportunity in front of me, making myself proud, grace and thanks…
But it’s hard to put yourself in check all of the time and it’s hard to always tap into the bigger whys and how comes as mentioned above. I get that. Last time, I wrote about giving your honest best. I’ll be the first person to admit that there are a lot of times when I don’t want to give my honest best because I’m tired, because it’s hot, because I hate track…but I’ll also be the first person to admit that I don’t believe in wasting days.
Every day is an opportunity to get better and if I don’t take advantage of that then I’m wasting my own time. If there’s one thing that’s worse than 8x55s curve runs with decreasing rest or 400H practice in 95°F of straight Arizona sun-fire, it’s wasting my own time. I can’t do it.
You have to find that one thing that’s going to get you around the track when you just can’t for the life of you. Breakfast, a well-deserved nap afterwards, the fact that you’re already out of bed and at a 6:00am training session…it could be anything.
When I’m not performing well, staying motivated really comes down to being patient, staying grounded and putting everything into perspective. Success is not overnight; it never has been. I’ve said it before- the key to surviving this sport is to simply trust the process. Sometimes I have to take a step back and just accept that this is the path that I’m on.
I also have to remind myself that I am not bigger than this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, you know? Putting in the work doesn’t guarantee a perfect race every time I step onto the track. And the reality of it is that there won’t always be perfect races and the buildup to perfect races isn’t even perfect. Progress isn’t always linear.
That’s when putting things into perspective helps.
Where was I at this time last year? That is a magic question.
If you can compare your current state to your state at the same time in previous years, you can determine whether or not you’re ahead, right on track or a little behind. Take everything into consideration. The lessons you’ve learned, injuries, major life changes- all of it matters.
Just like training, motivation isn’t one-size-fits-all. You just have to dig deep and find what makes you tick…and don’t get hung up along the way.