The Secret To Running Motivation: Going From Push To Pull

What is motivation? After a quick Google search, motivation is defined as “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Simply put, it’s the desire to do something. In my own personal quest in understanding motivation as an ultra-runner, I’ve allocated an abundance of time eliminating excuses while searching from within and my surrounding environment for inspiration. Sometimes it’s not easy pushing your self out the front door in the 30-degree weather to run a 30-mile training run, but, at the same time, just this weekend I couldn’t wait to step outside to run 34 miles. So, what’s the difference between the two instances? The answer lies within the particular type of motivation being used.

Did you ever notice when you have to push yourself to take action versus when you just go and do something without thinking? Maybe you have to force yourself to get up for work vs waking up excited to spend the day doing something you love. The difference is push vs pull and both are a type of motivation we can use to drive us in taking action.

Push vs Pull Motivation

Have you ever done something because you felt you had to? That’s what PUSH motivation feels like, it’s forceful, it’s a behavior or an act that an individual pushed themselves to complete in order to satisfy a need. An example of this would be reluctantly studying all night for an exam the following day. On the flip side, have you ever felt drawn to something? That’s what PULL motivation feels like, it’s magnetic, and it’s a behavior or act where an individual is pulled or drawn to an action to satisfy a need. Examples would be a fan going to a game or a photographer who cannot stop taking pictures out of passion for it. So how does this relate to running? Well, I can tell you that being an ultra-runner frequently strikes up discussions on running and motivation. A common issue I hear during conversation is, “I’ve tried running but I couldn’t push myself to continue.” But you see, that’s where the issue lies, PUSH. Pushing yourself to do something only lasts for so long whereas pull motivation almost feels effortless. Pull motivation is the key to that ambitious drive within each and every one of us and the open door is the finish line of our choice.

The Secret to Pull Motivation

So, what’s the secret to pull motivation in running? Easy, change your story, that is, define yourself as a runner. When we become a “runner” in our mind, then, guess what, we must run. If you’re a chef, then, you cook, if you’re a doctor, then, you heal, and if you’re a runner, then, you run. By declaring yourself as a runner, or an ultra-runner, you will naturally gravitate towards running. Not convinced you’re a runner yet? We all need a little convincing sometimes. Here are a few quick tips that may help.

1-Take a step

You know what the best part about becoming a runner is? It’s easy! You literally only have to take one step, and poof, you’re a runner. The term “runner” is subjective as it’s truly based on our own individual perspective. So, walk out the door, move your feet forward, and run baby run!

2-Get fitted

For some, becoming a runner starts with the purchase of a real pair of running shoes. In this case, make sure to stop by your local running store and get fitted by a professional. There are many running shoe connoisseurs judging each design released into the market place but the professionals at your local running store is the best bet. They will pick out a shoe based on your natural running form and body structure. Nothing like a new pair of running shoes to energize the start of a new training program.

3-Finish A Race

Crossing a finish line seems to be one of the more popular techniques to becoming a runner in our minds. Some feel they can officially consider themselves a runner once they complete a race of a particular distance. There is 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, ultra-marathons, and everything else in between. Find a race, find a running program, and find a reason to start. Fortunately, there are a million and one races to choose from. Keep things simple and search online for a local race, consider the coarse description, and sign up.

4-Join a running club

For the social butterflies out there, joining a running club can provide the perfect recipe for transforming into an official runner. Becoming part of a club creates a sense of acceptance into the running community. Not to mention, there’s plenty to learn from when spending time with experienced runners that will ultimately create an increase in one’s progression eventually leading to enough experience where one can give back to others, and the cycle continues.

5-Don’t compare yourself with others

Comparing yourself with others is the worse demotivation of all. Think about it, through social media posts we are literally viewing each other’s highlight reels all day. Personally, when I post a photo to social media after a 100-mile ultra-marathon you’re not viewing the blood, sweat, and tears that went into reaching the finish line. You’re not seeing the months of grueling training, the thousands of times I said no to bread, or each time I woke up before sunrise. There’s no post that highlight myself running through the entire night in the rain, or running sick, or running hungry. The point is, don’t be discouraged if it seems to look easy for other runners.

In conclusion, consider the benefits of using pull motivation in achieving your running goals. I hope my tips help you change your story. Remember that we all have that story we cling to. For some the story can be empowering but for most the story unknowingly is exactly what’s holding them back. Fall in love with the process and look past the fear. If we focus on where we want to go, rather than what we fear, suddenly the road less traveled becomes a favorable place to run, and one we look forward to running every day. If we have something — like being a runner and completing a race — something we want to do that really pulls us, the fear suddenly disappears, those sacrifices soon become a custom way of living, and those impossible goals become achievements of the past. When we can call ourselves runners, change our story, and have a goal in place, we will magnetize towards running and ultimately cross that finish line.