Probably the thing I get asked about the most, is motivation to get out running. As in, how to have more motivation and drive to run regularly, even in the face of self-sabotage and self-distraction. I think many people think I was born with some intrinsic motivational gift that ensures I go out regularly and train for my marathons and so on, but it is not the case. It has got easier as I have been running marathons each year for well over a decade and running has become part of my life, but I still use a wide variety of techniques to get driven the day after a sleepless night with my children, for example.
When people consider going out running when they lack motivation, they sometimes go through that phase of rationalising it with themselves. You know how use that language at times….
“I ought to go out running.”
“I should do a hills session.”
“I must get to my running club tonight.“
This sort of language shows that running is not being communicated as something we really want to do, but it is somehow necessary for us to get something else, it is a means to an end and not very compelling. We want to be slim, we want to fit into a different waist size of trousers or a smaller dress, we want to feel fitter when playing with the kids, we want to be able to see our toes when on the scales, we want to be perceived in a particular way, we want to raise money for charity, we want to complete a marathon in a particular time – running is the means of doing it for many people.
Instead, we communicate with ourselves as follows:
“I want to run.”
“I enjoy running.”
“I love feeling the sensation of running.”
It often takes us a while to develop this perspective on running. Whenever I say these kinds of things, many people look at me as if I am some sort of nutjob.
It tends to then feed my motivation to run and keep on doing it. It is now an intrinsic and automatic part of my life and my day-to-day regimen.
“What? Is that it Adam? That is your strategy for getting motivated? Just keep on doing it until you like it?!”
Nope. That kind of suggested process is likely to end up as many January gym subscriptions that get used 20 times in January, 10 times in February and then never again.
Many people have an unusual psychological association with exercise. They think of it as some sort of a chore and think of doing it with some kind of begrudging mindset, like it is a punishment; often perpetuated by those that insist on “no pain, no gain” or other outdated 80s idiocy that only deserve ot be repeated at select nostalgic moments when refusing to throw away your ‘Frankie Says Relax’ t-shirt.
If you consider exercise to be something you must/should/ought to be doing because you have to lose weight somehow and you have to sacrifice some comfort and exchange pain, hassle and …. Then of course you are not going to be motivated to exercise.
Today, I thought I’d run through a nice process, using self-hypnosis, mental imagery and a bunch of other stuff (excuse the technical jargon) to show you how to get motivated to run and end up wanting to do it, feel good doing it, and enjoy running – plus I have recent evidence to support this process!
Before we start with this process, write up a list or have a mental note of all the reasons that you want to run – all your motivations. Word them in a positive frame. By that I mean, to state that you want to ‘achieve your ideal size, shape and weight’ and not ‘I don’t wanna be fat.’ Make your reasons things that move and strive to achieve rather than things you want to avoid – at least for this exercise, we are going to be positive.
I appreciate that many people are motivated by fear and avoiding things that they do not want, but this particular process lends itself better to being progressive.
With that in mind, also now think of some really marvellous statements that are inspiring and motivating to you such as those I gave earlier “I love to run more and more” and “I increasingly enjoy running” and “my body loves rigorous, healthy activity” or word things however you choose, in your own preferred way.
So with that set of great reasons for exercising in mind, and with a set of positive affirmations to deliver to yourself later on, let the fun begin:
7 Steps To Get Motivated To Run:
Step One: Induce hypnosis. You can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my ‘Science of self-hypnosis’ book, use the free audio at my main hypnosis website to practice or have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:
Heavy Arm Self-Hypnosis Induction Method.
Using Eye Fixation for Self-Hypnosis.
The Chiasson Self-Hypnosis Method.
Hand to Face Self-Hypnosis Induction.
Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis.
The Coin Drop Self-Hypnosis Induction.
Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two.
Step Two: You may choose to remember a time you enjoyed exercise, where you had a really good workout and you felt great for it. Alternatively, you can imagine and create such an experience…
Spend a few moments imagining that you have just completed a workout of some kind. A positive running experience that you really enjoyed. You decide what kind of run session it was. Notice what you see all around you, notice the sounds of the environment you are in and most importantly, start to feel the sensations of having enjoyed a spectacular uplifting exercise session.
Imagine the endorphins that your brain is pumping through your body that reach every cell of your body. Notice the warm tingle of heightened sensation in your muscles as they relax after the exertions. Like it is a glowing, joyous sense of satisfaction. Imagine feelgood chemicals working through your system.
You might choose to imagine the good feelings as a colour working through your body and mind, or as a sound or even just get a physical sense of it working through your body and you concentrate on it.
Really spend plenty of time making sure you generate a very real and observable sensation in you r mind and body that represents the sensation of having just exercised beautifully well. As you do it, tell yourself that you are going deeper inside your mind and use this step to deepen your own hypnosis at the same time.
When you are certain you have that, move on to the next step.
Step Three: Now we benefit from one of the main benefits and characteristics of hypnosis. Magnify and increase that magnificent feeling. Maybe you imagine a dial in your mind, maybe you imagine the colours spreading or becoming brighter, maybe you sense the feelings expanding, maybe you just tell yourself they are amplifying, maybe you move the feelings (or your imagined feelings) faster and faster through your body and build them up to a feverishly delightful and delicious joyous feeling.
Take all the time you need and really practice expanding and developing this glorious feeling of post-run bliss and ecstasy.
When you are sure that you have grown it and amplified it to a memorable level, move on to the next step.
Step Four: Holding those great feelings, recall all the reasons you have for exercising. All those great reasons and motivations you have. Remind yourself of all those wonderful reasons you have for exercising and start to imagine how good it is going to be when you achieve those desired outcomes – maybe it is reducing your size to fit into new clothes, maybe it is wanting to feel good, or prove to people that you can do this, whatever the reasons, imagine you have achieved them and notice how good the feelings of achievement are. Bask in them and combine these feelings with those that you already have.
Build and develop and amplify, then move on to the next step.
Step Five: Continue to build and amplify the good feeling and now state those affirmations to yourself, those positive statements. Start to say to yourself any one of the affirmations or positive statements that you decided upon prior to starting this session, for example:
I love running more and more. Or…
I get increasingly more enjoyment from running.
Repeat the chosen statement over and over in your mind and imagine that these words are getting combined with that good feeling, so that if you say these words to yourself outside of hypnosis, they install the feelings.
Imagine the words rolling around your mind and body and let these words become associated with that great, motivating feeling. When you are sure that these words have been repeated enough times in your mind to really have an effect in real-life, then move on to the next step.
Step Six: To bring this together, now imagine being in a typical situation in your life when you are about to choose whether to exercise or not. See the sights, hear the sounds, be in that place, that environment of your life.
Now mentally rehearse that in that situation, you state those words to yourself, you feel those feelings begin to grow and develop within you, you are inspired into action and you decisively choose to exercise.
Step Seven: Tell yourself that every time you practice this process, it becomes easier to do in real-life. Tell yourself that each time you have to decide whether to exercise or not, you start to automatically feel really good at the prospect of it, knowing the great feelings you get and knowing the wonderful outcomes that await you. Think about some exercise you can go and do within the next 48 hours and decide to do that.
Exit hypnosis by wiggling your fingers and toes and open your eyes.
Go and take some action, go and partake in that exercise that you planned and notice how much more enjoyment you get from it, notice how much more you can motivate yourself to engage in motivating yourself to run and how easier it becomes to instigate it more and more regularly.
This is not just casual advice or anecdotal food for thought, research supports the notion of thinking about the last time you exercised as a motivational tool to exercise again. A study entitled ‘Using memories to motivate future behaviour: An experimental exercise intervention‘ conducted at the University of New Hampshire by Biondolillo et al. (2014) involved one group of research participants thinking about a previous positive memory of exercising, while another group of participants recalled a negative experience of exercising.
When compared to a control group as well as the negative memory group, the group that recalled the positive memory and positive experience of exercising were much more motivated and more likely to go and exercise again.
The authors stated: “These results provide the first experimental evidence that autobiographical memory activation can be an effective tool in motivating individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles.”
With seemingly small amounts of effort, this mental facet made a difference. Imagine what more effort and regular application of such mental skills would and could do? Keep up those mental skills you runners, practice the process outlined here for you today; it’ll serve you well and have you motivated more than ever!