Motivation: My Mind Said No

By Carissa

~I started this post two weeks ago but didn't have the "motivation" to finish it until now...

We’ve all been there - that place in your training when you lose your drive.  You don’t care anymore and you have a long list of reasons not to carry on.  Somewhere between last week and this week I lost my motivation.  

On Monday morning the alarm went off.  I got up and groggily made my way through my routine to get out the door.  On the drive to the gym I let my negative thoughts simmer. "I don't want to be up at 4:45 a.m. to battle through an hour of spin and 45 minutes in the pool.  I don't want to work out.  I don't want to work hard for a triathlon I am confident I can complete today.  I should be in bed right now."  It was my third morning commute to the gym feeling this way and I knew it was a red flag.  

Once at the gym I checked in and put my bag in a locker.  All I had to do was walk through the door to class and sit on a bike.  If I did that I would be assured of a commitment to the next 60 minutes and following through with my workout.  But I didn’t.  I chose to listen to the voice that reassured me that every fiber of me did not want to work out.  I passed several regulars on their way in as I did the walk of shame out and back home to bed.

The following day I was still in an exercise funk and I shared my thoughts with a few friends.  I love the way they encourage and support me.  Here is their input:

Me: "I almost swam this morning but I’m struggling with burnout so I figured it would be best to not try and make up for yesterday’s missed workout."

Tanya: "Yes.  Smart.  I’m pretty sure you would rock the tri even if it was today."

Me:  "Thanks friend.  I’ve been at this training schedule too long.  I started early to get flexibility with choosing a race, but ended up picking one late in the season.  My training has been going on and on! I wish my race was next weekend and I could just kick back for the rest of the summer. Oh the trouble I cause for myself..."

Tanya: "Yeah, it’s been a while.  But maybe you should just maintain from here and not push it.  I know you’ll do great and it is your first one so be kind to yourself."

Me:  "That’s a good suggestions.  Problem is I started working with my friend who is a personal trainer and he upped the intensity of my training (pace runs and speed work in the pool.)  It’s a good plan.  I’m wondering if I can hang on for another eight weeks."

Tanya:  "Nothing is set in stone.  You have nothing to prove.  We ALL know how amazing you are and enjoying life is pretty important!  Love you friend."

Me: "You always have the best advice Tanya!  Love you!"

Me:  "I’m considering taking this week off.  I’m still feeling mentally off I think I need a nice big break before I carry on."

Kelly: "I agree.  Recovery is good.  Or just run half of the track workout tonight."

Me: "My intuition is take a break, let it bug me that I’m not exercising, then get back at it refreshed and ready to finish out the last seven weeks."

Kelly: "Then take a break.  No one is judging.  I am giving you a nudge because sometimes we need a nudge."

Me: "I’m in a funk.  Really burned out.  I think I started my training too long ago... I think a week off would be good so I can get nice and bored and let it drive me crazy that I’m not working out.  The other choice is feeling grumpy going into my workouts.  What do you think I should do?  Physically I can power through, but mentally I’m struggling."

Brandon:  "That’s fine if you need.  I’d still either swim or run a couple of days, but back the volume way off and stay off the bike."

Me:  "Okay.  Bummer thing is that we’re traveling next week so my schedule will suffer then too, but at least I’ll be able to get a mental break."

Brandon:  "What about slogging through this week and taking a complete week off during travel?"

An hour later I was in the car on my way to the track with Team Athena.  Brandon and I had a brief talk about how I was feeling and the choices I had.  He told me one thing he tells his clients is there will come a time when they don’t “want” to work out.  When they get to that point they need to choose to do it anyway.  I understand this and embrace it.  Self discipline and reward comes when we choose what is best over what is easy/tempting/convenient/(you fill in the blank.)  Brandon again encouraged me to slog through this week with the plan of having a very relaxed time while on vacation, exercising just for fun if I wanted to.   

I was on board with Brandon's plan.  After all I was already en route to work out.  Can you guess what happened at track?  I nailed the workout.  No problem.  Maybe my body didn’t need that break as badly as I thought it did.

Brandon elaborated on how he handles lack of motivation, "...the issue is usually tied to poor food, sleep or water, stress in my life or just from a hard training cycle.  I don't mess around with the first three.  If those are off, my workout has to change.  If it's because of a hard training cycle, part of the mental adaption is learning to push.  Experience and having a good coach or friend can help you decide whether or not it's even worth going to the gym."

How about you Sole Sisters?  What do you do when you struggle with motivation?  Who are your greatest encouragers?  Who can YOU encourage, nudge or coach today?


  1. I think that you are one of the greatest encouragers along with a lot of other women I have met through the online blogging community. We all have funks, I go through them more often then I would care to admit. Take last Thursday for example. I had my workout clothes on and all I had to do was drive to farmgirlfit after work. What did I do instead? Went to the drive thru, purchased a large peanut butter milkshake and went home and fell asleep on the couch. It happens. Just hang in there. You have a lot of people that read your blog that are super inspired by you!

    1. Wow Tasha! That is quite the compliment coming from you. Ever since we "met" you've been nothing but encouraging. I love how you do that for me and others in this running blog community. I love your story about the milkshake and falling asleep on the couch. It totally made me laugh out loud especially since I can picture doing exactly the same thing. Thanks for your comments friend!

  2. I love the pure honesty of this post! Training too long can definitely be a mental barrier but your body is absolutely there even if your mind isn't! I'm proud of you, mostly for even just recognizing this problem and addressing it with trusted friends who you know will be real with you!