Finding the motivation to exercise (part 3)

Post written by Orsolya Hernold


This morning I was jogging. Not much, my usual 5 km (3 miles). This morning running did not feel good. I was panting early, my muscles were sore, my side ached. All I wanted is to stop and go home. My supportive self-talk turned on: what happens if you quit now? Nothing. One time would not hurt. You will come back tomorrow and jog again anyway. So I stopped and started walking.

Why do I go jogging? I like the emptiness and the energy running provides. My body needs cardio exercise besides yoga poses and jogging is the easiest to do. My body misses jogging after a week. Still there are those days when I wish I had slept in instead of getting up early to go to the park for a run. What keeps me motivated to jog?

I found two factors that play an important part in my motivation to exercise. First, I jog without measuring my speed or the time, I run by feel. I heard this concept from the founder of Basic Training, Jennifer Pattee, and realized I am doing what she was talking about. I run by feel–I run at a steady pace that I can keep for long distances. This pace differs every time: sometimes my body is tired and I am quite slow, other times I am able to run faster. I adjust my speed to my capabilities at the moment by being body-aware throughout (I do not listen to music, either). At the end, I do sprints to deplete my energy storage, to exhaust myself.

Second, I pay attention to enjoying my time spent at the running court. I run by feel–my underlying feelings are the joy of movement and being outside in a park, the satisfaction with my showing up for exercise and the pleasant exhaustion at the end. I start and finish with good feelings, so next time I will long to experience them again.

This morning my awaited pleasure did not emerge. So I stopped and started walking. Nothing happens if I go home now, really. I almost did. But then I thought–what will be my experience from this day? Will this experience motivate me to show-up again? I would have been disappointed and angry at myself for giving up, not a good experience to turn to when I need the motivation to get out of bed next time. At this point in my chain of thoughts, I made a deal: I will alternate between jogging and walking until I finish my 5 km (3 miles). First, the suffering continued, but during the last laps (I even made a little sprint in the last one) I was joyful again: I did it again! How do I feel now? Proud and satisfied, ready for another jog tomorrow. I did not lose my faith in my capabilities by accepting my body’s need for walking, either. It really does not matter what caused my disability to jog (the heat, the new running court or my lack of sleep), I did what I could and left with feeling good about myself.



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