It’s not always easy. Runners are not super-human or immune to days, or weeks, of missing motivation, or what we often call Mojo. So what can you do when your mojo goes missing?
Let me take you back in time (time…time…time…) to 2007-2010. I lived in a beautiful city, surrounded by the Puget Sound, beautiful scenery, running routes (on sidewalks) galore. I could run a different route every single day for 365 days, right out my front door. I had running partners who motivated me and supported me. I was in Runner’s Paradise. But alas, as all military wives know, all good duty stations must come to an end.
The orders came down that we had to move. I had a couple of months to prepare myself. I began looking at my routes differently. I took mental notes of the water, the hills, the charm of the city. Every run was special. I knew things would be different, but I believed I could adjust. I begged my husband to do whatever he could to time our departures so that I could run the Portland Marathon on our way out of town on 10/10/10. After completing that marathon, the hardest one of my life, we hit the road for the 3,000+ mile journey from West coast to East coast.
Once we arrived in North Carolina I recognized immediately things were different. For one it was hot and humid, in October. Our neighborhood was small. There were no sidewalks, roads had a shoulder about as wide as my foot, and cars did not share the road with runners. I didn’t have friends or support for my fragile healthy lifestyle. I was struggling.
So many times I struggled to put on my running shoes and I forced myself to run the same old boring 3mile route in my neighborhood. I would close my eyes and dream of the water, the salty air, and the beautiful gardens lining the sidewalks. I was slipping into a deep, dark place, The Place of Lost Mojo.
I struggled through the rest of 2010 and then in 2011 I discovered triathlons. I needed something new and fresh to get me out of my funk. I relied heavily on my Running Partners back in Washington for motivation, but I found a few like-minded friends who were motivated to sign up for fitness adventures (read races and tris). I began to build my local support network of active friends who spoke my language of training plans, paces, running routes, long runs, races, and rest days. Life was looking good.
Then, I took another blow. Almost one year after arriving in North Carolina my dad passed away. My training plan was forgotten. My first marathon in North Carolina just didn’t matter anymore. As I packed my bags to go home to Oklahoma, I put my running shoes in my closet and shut the door. They stayed there. I can’t tell you how long.
Once again I found myself at the bottom of a deep, dark hole, and I was only kind of ok with that.
One day, about a month after my dad passed, I had an urge to run. I dug through my closet and slipped into my shoes. As I walked out my front door I was hit with two conflicting thoughts: I can’t do this and I need to do this.
Running has a strange way of clearing my head. When I run I find myself alone with my thoughts. It can be scary when you don’t want to think; you’re scared of your thoughts when they are racing faster than your feet. But somehow, with each step, a tiny bit of clarity seeps through. Day after day I forced myself to go for a run. I didn’t run far. One run was less than one mile, a far cry form the 18 mile run I had done only weeks before my dad passed. But slowly, I began to see the light. I no longer felt like I was drowning. Don’t get me wrong, I still grieve, but running is part of my grieving.
So how do you pull yourself out of a running/training slump when your Mojo is nowhere to be found? Remember, this too shall pass…isn’t that what they say? It won’t pass, though, without effort on our part. Every day we make a choice, we chose to be active and take control of our lives, or we chose not to. It’s not always easy to get out there but it helps to remember why we do this. Remind yourself of the benefits, what you love about it. I love to run for a number of reasons: It clears my head, I feel less cranky afterwards, it contributes to the lovely shape of my calves, and finally, it makes me feel like ME. Nothing like a good sweat to put life back in perspective, to make me appreciate my health and my life. Slowly but surely, as you lace up, you will find your Mojo returning to where it belongs, in your heart.
So when life throws a curve ball, lace up your shoes and chase it down. After all, if you have the ball you’re in control.
Amanda Brandon is a Licensed Professional Counselor and RRCA Certified Running Coach in North Carolina. She is the author of the blog 5 Miles Past Empty and blogs about the ups and down of training and staying active. She loves to challenge herself to accomplish new goals and encourages other to do the same. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.