A friend and I were talking about signing up for races the other day. She was frustrated — stuck in a dry spell, with no desire to train for a goal or sign up for a race. As a result, she felt she was meandering through workouts, running without purpose, and losing fitness. I disagreed.
“It’s not that you’re a slacker,” I explained. “This missing ‘oomph’ is the mind’s way of letting you know the body needs a change. And you need to honor that.
“When you’re ready, you’ll come back.”
As it turns out, I needed to listen to my own advice.
3 Stages of Workout Love
Training can be like falling in love. At first, everything about your sport is new and glorious; you rush out the door in a frenzy to get to that workout. Life’s routine simply gets in the way of time spent with this new passion. When not training, you while away the hours chatting, sharing photos, researching gear, creating training programs, and engaging in all other aspects of that sport. There aren’t enough events to sign up for or workouts to attend.
Time tempers all mania, and training receives no exemption. After a while, getting to workouts becomes more of a chore. Sure, you’re still dedicated and enjoying what you’re doing, but that fitness pursuit is no longer an all-consuming passion. You’ve moved beyond the honeymoon and newly-wed phases to the solid years of a lasting, long-term relationship. It may not be quite as sexy but training’s still deeply rewarding and satisfying.
And then, one day, you realize that other activities have gradually taken precedence, bumping workouts off the schedule. Work intrudes, social activities pop up, the weather becomes an excuse to play hooky. Even when you’ve made it to a workout, there’s a sense of duty and dull habit instead of joy and enthusiasm.
The passion is gone.
It’s easy to mistake this lack for laziness. Being human, we’re all lazy sometimes. But there’s a huge difference, however, between reluctance to leave a dry, warm bed on one cold, wet morning and a consistent, extended failure to attend, no matter what the conditions. The key to successfully identifying (and then dealing with) motivational issues is self examination. It takes some review to ascertain when and how momentary lapses stretched into habit and why a previous commitment has been forsaken.
You’re performing forensic analysis to determine passion’s cause of death.
Following Your Training Passion
Over the last few months, I’d missed perhaps 50 percent of my boxing workouts. Oh, I had good reasons. There were interviews, meetings, trips, tired mornings… So many things were coming between me and those twice-weekly morning workouts I’d been so religiously attending for more than three years. After taking a hard look at the pattern of absences, I was startled to discover how AWOL my training focus had gone. I just wasn’t that into it anymore.
That’s not to say I don’t love boxing. Oh, that underlying interest remains — the combination of thought, repetition, and coordinated movement is fascinating. I treasure how strong I feel after those workouts. I love the gym, my training partners, and wonderful coach. Nope, I hadn’t lost interest; my passion had gradually faded into the background. My focus had shifted elsewhere.
While boxing workouts were taking a hit, my feet had no problem finding a trail. This was a new thing; for several years, I’d taken a serious running hiatus. At the magazine, heavy schedules and crazy stress pushed me to drop any sort of formal training. Once I’d left my job, a fun mix of boxing, yoga, and social runs (along with better food and catching up on sleep) was just what my body needed. Like my friend, I’d been marking time in a training drought.
Crossing the Grand Canyon this month was the first new running goal I’d set in almost two years. What a blast getting ready for that 20+ mile adventure! Training hours flew by. I was excited about being back out there; getting up was no problem; I prioritized around commitments to make sure I had time for runs. After the trip, my friends and I talked about signing up for some trail events. The next thing I knew, I was in for a 25K and 50K and had registered for a road marathon, planned a rudimentary training schedule through February 2016, and — dare I say it? — begun to tentatively consider another stab at that bucket list item, the 100 miler.
Anybody who does endurance events knows that the hard part is not doing; it’s embracing what must be done in order to toe the starting line. At some point during the last two years, my mind had healed enough to return to the kind of focus necessary for completing what I’d started out to do in 2011.
My waning boxing commitment wasn’t laziness. It was the first sign that my running comeback was complete.
For now, my passion is running and I need to honor that. But I’ll be paying close attention for that internal shift in focus that tells me it’s time to return to boxing.