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Motivation can be a tricky thing.
Especially in health and fitness.
What keeps us going and working hard?
For some it’s competition that gets them going. So a race would be a perfect carrot to put out in front of them to keep them working. They thrive by looking to improve their previous time or win their age group. For others, it’s quite the opposite—competition is a turn off. If that’s the case—don’t sign up for a race but focus on how exercise makes you feel or how it often becomes a meditative escape. I would argue, however, whether you enjoy the competitive aspect or not, the community built around sport can be a huge motivator.
I belong to a few different sport groups and have found that the community of people I have connected with is much more valuable than the benefits of just having a group that runs through the training with me. Many people feel that can’t join an athletic group/club because they are not good enough in terms of fitness level and talent. This couldn’t be further from the truth—though it took two years of convincing my husband of this before he showed up to a masters swim workout. Of course there are some groups that are for elite athletes but these are usually invite only groups or it is made clear that if you join them you must be able to meet certain standards, but these groups are the exception not the rule. Most groups are open to all levels. They are full of people of all fitness levels and goals. The people you find are friendly, love supporting one another and create great camaraderie. In short, they welcome anyone willing to join them. They aren’t just groups of people looking for newcomers to crush.
I swim with a masters swim club. Of course, there are great swimmers in the group but it is a wonderful group of people who enjoy swimming no matter what their ability. One woman I swim with is in her 80’s. She can’t do all of the time standards of the workouts, but she is there like clockwork doing what she can. At swim meets she enters in to all the races allowed (they set a max. amount per swimmer) and she will take 5 min. or more to finish than the next slowest swimmer. There will be hundreds of people waiting and watching for her to finish before the meet can move on. Being the slowest doesn’t stop her! And we are happy to wait for her to finish—she sets the standard we all aspire to—don’t let age and ability stop you, just keep doing what you can. She is an inspiration to us all. Certainly I am motivated to be like her when I’m in my 80’s!
That voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough? Fast enough? Fit enough?
Bull! You are right where you need to be! Showing up is half the battle.
If you can’t find a community to join, make one. It might not feel as “official” but the support and accountability can be wonderful. Even one friend to join you can make a difference. Try Googling running clubs in your area and see what comes up.
I have linked to a video that shows the woman known as the “Iron Nun.” She is truly amazing. Her great story reminds us that we put our own limits on what we think possible.
Sister Madonna Buder AKA the Iron Nun