Every person of every level and ability training for a marathon has had struggles during the process. Running a marathon is a personal challenge and with all challenges there are obstacles. Overcoming these obstacles makes the experience rewarding, especially once the goal has been achieved.
Often low motivation is the most debilitating challenge but can also be the easiest obstacle to manage. I consulted several sources, my colleagues in sports medicine and physical therapists on this topic in order to cover the most common issues facing runners. Training for a marathon is both physical and mental so train both your body and your mind.
Some causes of low motivation include:
- Low blood sugar
- Memories of recent workouts that were too long and/or too hard and caused discomfort and even injuries
- Negative thoughts and excuses for not training
- Boredom with the process
- Lack of immediate rewards
Some techniques to overcome low motivation include:
- Eat a power bar with a glass of water one hour before training, especially if you run late in the day. Your body needs fuel and the benefits will be both physical and mental.
- To fight off memories of past runs that were difficult, listen to both your body and your mind. If the pain continues or worsens, stop and consult a physician. In most cases, you can, under the guidance of a doctor, adapt your program so that you still accomplish your goals and remain healthy. If the negative thoughts are coming from your brain, not your body, keep running. Most runners find that the adrenaline begins working and finish the run successfully.
- Excuses. We all use excuses. How many times have you said, “I am too busy, I don’t have time to run today.”? However, running and exercise helps manage stress and increases productivity in many aspects of life. Make a list of reasons why you run (i.e. Manage stress, weight management, and increased self-esteem) and use it to “respond” to excuses.
- Running and training for a marathon is a long process. If, and it often does, boredom sets in try to find ways to deflect the tedium. Take a different path, run with a friend or listen to new music. The marathon is one day but training takes several months. Make the process engaging.
- Use the buddy system or participate in a running group to help combat boredom and to be responsible to another person.
- Reward yourself. Congratulate yourself. Do this during and after every run. Keep a journal, making note of obstacles you overcame.
Training for a marathon requires a great deal of hard work and dedication. I congratulate all of you and wish you the best.