In the first of Cassandra Davis’s articles she explores Motivation. The head of the Time-to-Run women’s section is a former winner of national titles and an international athlete as well as a mother of three.
Cassandra is an accomplished marathon runner with a decade of international marathon wins. She won two national marathon titles in consecutive years, taking first the South African marathon title in 1986 and then, after immigrating to France and gaining French nationality, she won the French national marathon championship title in 1987.
She has run for the French team and represented France at international level in distances from 3000 meters on the track to the marathon (42.2 km) distance.
I am often asked how I keep motivated to run every day. For me this seems strange because I love running. People have been known to excel in activities, which give them little pleasure, but of course you are more likely to succeed in doing things that reward you with physical stimulation and psychological satisfaction.
I am not abnormal, there are those days where I feel tired and would like to sleep a little more, and there have been periods where I have had prolonged bouts of sciatica which have dampened my enthusiasm for running. It is true to say that some people are more highly motivated than others, but this does not mean, as in the case of a physical disability, that something cannot be done about it.
Motivation can be consciously manipulated. We all have different levels of physical ability, but there is one aspect in which we are all equal, and that is the capacity to develop our mental ability. The mind is an area of unlimited potential and can have a powerful influence on performance and achievement; I like to call it “mind power.”
Mind power is driven by motivation, which stems from the Latin word “movere” meaning to move, and describes the power within us to move forward. Think of it as the mental power push you to run and run faster. Sometimes referred to as “guts” or “drive”, motivation is clearly fundamental in every aspect of our daily lives, starting with giving us the push get out of bed in the mornings. Most women that I know who are runners have such busy lives that the endorphin kick, or “runners high”, which is caused by morphine-like substances that our bodies produce naturally to cope with stress and which rise during running, is enough to keep up the motivation to continue running. Women especially, find constant encouragement in the fact that running keeps them trim, they don’t have to diet and this causes them to have a better self-image and this is motivation in itself.
However, what happens when the environmental factors interfere and you lose interest, and how do you become faster and better your times in competitions? As in all other aspects of our lives, you have to keep motivated and have things to look forward to egg you on. Just think of the slogan “TGIF” and how we get through the weekdays for the weekend reward. So the same goes with running, if your motivation is low, then you will have no wind in your sails and the first drop of rain will keep you indoors. There is no cure for low-motivation, so you have to find out for yourself what can help you to initiate and sustain it.
Whether you are a just a recreational jogger starting out to loose a few surplus kilos, or an experienced marathon runner aiming to break three hours, in order to motivate yourself you have first and foremost to be goal orientated. In order to not loose despondency, the goals you set should be attainable and realistically achievable.
Your goal could be anything from completing a family five km fun run to running 100km in under nine hours. If you cannot see any point in setting a goal in terms of personal achievement or scores, you might instead find motivation in participating and completing an event for a charity or cause. Setting a running goal, which involves making a commitment to your sponsors to complete an event to raise money for a particular cause, is extremely motivating as you will not like letting them down. If you are setting a goal in terms of bettering your performance you should not give yourself an impossible goal, your goal must remain within the realm of possibility and yet still challenge you. You should aim to improve yourself one step at a time, this way you will continue to be motivated by the fulfilment of each goal and consequently eager to set and reach the next. However, don’t be afraid to reassess your goal if it proves unrealistic.