Sometimes, too much running can deplete your energy and motivation. But there are simple ways to regain your groove
One of the things that I keep hearing about and have started to dread is losing my motivation to run, or mojo, as many call it. Late last spring, after completing two difficult races, my closest running friends lost their running mojo. They no longer had any real desire to go for a long run, or run at all and I was looking ahead to a race for the autumn that I was hoping to complete. With them out for the count, I hired a coach to keep me motivated and hold me accountable to my own running plans and goals. All of that soon got me thinking about just how do you get your groove back once you’ve lost it and, better yet, how do you avoid the pitfalls of losing it to begin with.
So with a little help from my friends, and talking to some other ultra runners who had also struggled with getting their mojo back, I began to come to some conclusions of my own. It seemed that many had lost their motivation due to over training and having a strict training schedule leading up to an event, leaving them tired and burned out. We need to look at our training plan carefully, setting realistic goals and expectations, and allowing ourselves a break in our schedule if we are feeling tired. Missing one run isn’t going to have a major effect on our training. While it can be very time consuming, we need to find a way to have some balance.
Some of us might fall into the trap of simply running too many races; all our friends are doing a race and we don’t want to miss out. Running races can be fun, but it’s also hard. We need time between races for our bodies to recover, rest and even relax. Not allowing ourselves a break can lead to fatigue and burnout. We’ll quickly lose the joy and not know why.
WHEN IN DOUBT, VOLUNTEER
When you don’t feel liking running yourself, or don’t have a goal of your own, you can help others out with theirs. Volunteering at races, crewing or pacing other runners can be good ways to get you excited about a race or goal again. Finding that next race, setting a new goal or challenge can also be a great way to get that excitement back. Just being an ultra runner usually means you have a lot of motivation and drive, and if it’s not a race that gets you excited, it might be an adventure run. You can plan a run like the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim, do a bucket list-type challenge or sign up for a run in another country. There is always something cooler or more awesome out there for the ultra runner to explore and get excited about.
It seems important to allow yourself, your body as well as your mind a chance to have a break. Don’t pressure yourself or try to fight your loss of mojo, but allow for a period of down time to pass. There’s no time table to getting back to it, and rushing it might lead to injury or depression. You can stay physically active by hiking, biking or some other form of cross training, to at least keep up some fitness level and not set yourself back to square one when you do feel ready to hit the trails again.
Whether you are trying to keep from losing your motivation or get it back, it’s helpful to have a training buddy. Find group runs or friends who can help hold you accountable and to encourage you on your journey. Often what we need is to just stop and “smell the roses,” to take in the views and appreciate the great outdoors. If you aren’t happiest in the woods, ultra running might not be your sport. Just getting on the trail can sometimes help you find that spark again.
Published July 2017