Whether your mojo like an energetic puppy dog or is sulking behind a bush - learn how to take the lead
Motivation can be a fickle thing. Just when you think you have become firm friends; you have introduced it to your family, shared your last chocolate with it, ‘poof’, up it goes and vanishes and you are left wondering what you did wrong. When the nights are long, the days cold and the reality of getting out to exercise hits, that New Year’s resolution to run a marathon (add in your own crazy goal here) can feel as realistic as a trip to the moon. So if your ‘mojo’ has gone walk here’s how to bring it to heel again.
Imagine eating an elephant in one go! Crazy but that’s what many of us do. We fixate on the end; the big, all singing, all dancing, glorious goal. If you want to have a better chance of staying on track and motivated, break your challenge down into bitesize chunks for each day, week, month. For example, if you are solely focused on running 26.2 miles, there is a chance you may overlook food, kit, strength, mental preparation which are just as important. Not only does breaking down your goal mean you are less likely to choke it means your plan can be a lot more agile too - you can notice if you are smashing it or not and make changes.
Be realistic. I love a goal that makes you squirm but if a plan means training 12 hours a week when there is no way you make that time around family, work commitments then you are heading for disappointment. Don’t give up, just change how you get there. The more personal a training plan the more you feel you own it and the more motivated you are.
Celebrate success. Every time you meet a goal no matter how simple it is, bottle that success and save it for a rainy day. When your motivation is waning, take a sniff and remind yourself what you have achieved and that you can do it.
See the bigger picture. I often see people whose response to falling motivation is to push themselves harder to do more with the result that they get more tired, less inspired and on. Stop and look up. A drop in energy is often our body’s way of signalling time out, a change is needed. Are we getting enough sleep, food, recovery, variety and do we still buy in to the original goal?
Seek out people who make you feel good about yourself and encourage you in your goals - maybe friends or a coach. Ignore the people who say you can’t do it. It is easy to mock. It takes courage to do something that slightly scares you. Likewise become a supporter of others. Positivity breeds positivity breeds success.
Feed your mojo! Whilst we humans love a routine we thrive on variety and fun. It makes our brains happier and therefore more motivated. Make times for when you can explore different areas, meet friends and exercise, try new sports or simply be spontaneous.
Reign it in! Often our motivation at the start is like a new puppy wanting to hurtle on at full speed, ears flapping wildly only to have to flop on to the sofa exhausted. Remember it is a long game you are playing and so keep some of your enthusiasm in the tank for when you need it.
So whether your mojo is straining at it’s lead or sulking behind a bush, take time to get to know what makes it tick and you will be well on your way to crossing that line.
Christmas conjures up all sorts of delicious smells for me; roast potatoes crisping in the oven, that strangely appealing odour of crackers just pulled, the sweet smell of warm mince pies and even the slightly dubious ones (Granny!). But my favourite by miles, is the smell of salty, hot bacon wafting through cold fresh air as my husband and I reach the top of Leith Hill, the high point of our Christmas Day run. Add in the eye expanding view over the beautiful Surrey and Sussex countryside and there is no better place to be.
Escaping the chaos of our packed household on Christmas Day is a custom I have long bought into. Quite frankly all the fuss surrounding what is essentially in my mind an oversized roast dinner and the often conflicting ‘traditions’ imposed by visiting relatives can get all too much. Putting on my familiar running gear and if I’m lucky a new pair of Christmas socks and heading out that door whatever the weather, is my time. The best present I can give to myself (and I didn’t have to wrap it). My family have long accepted that this isn’t some sort of selfish lunacy (sometimes it is) but that it’s a drug free form of medication. I love leaving the warmth of the house and feeling my body adjust to the change in temperature and I love the fact that with a house full of people, these 60 minutes or so may be the only time my husband and I get to chat freely without the demands for batteries, hot water or frowns from parents in law about why our children are still in their pyjamas. Inevitably we bump into friends and exchange christmas wishes, laugh at our respective dogs playing chase and because we are British, comment on the weather. And it is that simplicity and giving my girls big hugs with cold hands on our return that makes my day.
And that smell of bacon? - well that is a tradition I am aspiring to and so come this Christmas, I will be heading out with my tiny MSR pocket rocket stove and a packet of bacon in my pack. So if you are out in the Surrey Hills and smell a hint of bacon on the wind, you know where to find us. We will pack extra.