October 09, 2012

Inspiration, perspiration, motivation

Wait, how does the recipe go? Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, right? So said Thomas Edison, and there was a guy who knew something about what it takes to succeed: Get an idea, stick with it even if it sounds crazy, and keep trying to piece it all together until you get it right.

Running is a little bit like that. It starts with the vision—a leaner or stronger version of yourself, a healthier lifestyle, more time outside, a goal or a distance that dangles like a carrot overhead. Once the dream takes hold, there's nothing to do but work at it, and work at it hard. Running sure ain't easy: There's perspiration aplenty involved whether you run a mile or a marathon. How do you keep the inspiration alive, how do you fuel that one mile or those 26.2?

Without motivation, though, inspiration often ends up dead in the water.

Motivation can come from anywhere: I find it in the smiling faces of strangers who holler at me when I'm simply on a morning jog in my neighborhood. There's nothing like a "Lookin' good, lady runner!" to put a bit more gallop in you. I also find motivation in the results I see: Not just the collection of finisher's medals on my tchotchke shelves, but also the incredible feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line at a race of any length, knowing how hard you've worked at it. I find motivation in the clean bill of health my doctor gives me when I visit him. "You're in perfect condition," he says, and I always walk out of there knowing that if I were a used car, I'd have a pretty high trade-in value. (But why would I want to trade such a good thing?)

That isn't to say that motivation to perspire doesn't seem in short supply sometimes. There are always those mornings you'd rather crawl back into bed than pull on your technical T-shirt and battle-worn sneakers. When I feel a bought of let-me-skip-it-just-this-once coming on, I like to turn to other people for inspiration and motivation. (I almost always end up adding my own perspiration to the mix afterward.)

Here are a few of my favorite sources of inspiration and motivation:

  • Blogs are a great way to use other people's energy to pump up your own. Some of my favorites are written by relentlessly positive people for whom running is a joy and a privilege: They speak to their own insecurities and doubts, of course, but their willingness to combat difficulty and mistake in an honest and open way keeps me going.  Check out Ali on the Run, (never)homemaker, No Meat Athlete, and The Healthy Everythingtarian for some commentary that will knock your Zensahs off. (Or help you pull them on.)

  • Pinterest! Oh, I love this site so much. Any time I'm lacking a bit of steam in my running life, I do a search for people's fitness pins, and the next thing I know I'm itching to get out on the road again.

  • Runner's World is one of the only magazines I truly devour, and I always read it front to back basically the moment it arrives in my mailbox. ("Don't bother me; I'm reading Runner's World.") Not only does it always feature great original features, strategies and race tips for experienced hoofers, and not-too-serious columns, its writers and editors manage to make for-beginners information fun and interesting even for those of us who have been around the block. There's almost nothing more motivating to me than remembering what it was like to be an eager new runner, so hungry for anything I could learn and experience about my newfound passion: Reading RW always helps rekindle that fire for me.

How do you stay motivated, and what inspires you?


  1. Ah, motivation to get up and run. My monthly Runner's World arriving in the mailbox is always a good motivator. So are my new running shoes. If I am going to spend money on money, it gets me out the door. So does remembering a really great run. You know, when the world is wonderful, you push yourself faster or farther and don't even feel it, when you feel like you can just keep going and going.

  2. I agree that blogs are a great motivator - not only reading them but having one. Putting your goals out there, and having a community to keep you accountable to them, really helps you get out of bed at dark o'clock in the morn. My blog is itty bitty, but the few that do follow have been a tremendous help and inspiration to me during my first marathon season.


Thanks for jogging by!