I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been having trouble with finding motivation lately. Okay, maybe this has been an issue most of my life. I don’t think I’m alone, though. I hear echoes of others who have days or weeks or months or years where they feel their brains or bodies or hearts yelling, “I JUST CAN’T” at them.
And sometimes, it’s okay to allow your brain and your body and your heart to tell you those things.
There are days, though, when I really, really desperately want to be able to do the things I know will make me feel better. Like running. On those days, I often rely on words to light a fire in me. Since I’m a librarian, it also should come as no surprise that I believe words can have a huge impact, whether for good or for evil.
Scenario: Maybe you’re really excited about this new dress you’re wearing today, but then someone says, “That pattern is…interesting.” And maybe it’s an interesting pattern, but the way they said it, what did that mean? Does this even look good on you? It probably looks terrible. What were you even thinking buying it? You don’t look good in anything.
Four words. Four words were all it took to crack your confidence.
Scenario: Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. And then your toddler had a meltdown because you didn’t cut the crusts off her toast. The cat threw up and you stepped in it while wearing your favorite pair of socks (that ironically have cute little kittens on them). And your hair just won’t lay right and you smeared your eyeliner right after you put it on and you forgot to pack a lunch and wait, did you even remember to eat breakfast?
Then your kid tugs on your shirt and says, “I love you so much, Mama.”
Six words. Six words stop you in your tracks and melt your heart.
Again, words can have impact in big and little ways that add up.
So when I surround myself with motivation, I find myself feeling better. Here are a few of my favorite quotes when it comes to running and getting myself moving when I really just can’t.
Clear your mind of ‘can’t’.
It might sound simple, and in a way, it is. Often, my mind is my biggest enemy. It tells me what it thinks I can and can’t do. And a lot of times, it’s just plain wrong. If I do my best to remove “CAN’T” from my vocabulary, I’m not giving myself the option of giving up. Unless of course I’m saying to my mind, “You CAN’T stop me.”
You will want to stop. Don’t.
Relating to the last one, I try to make myself believe I am unstoppable. It is so easy to think, “I’m tired! I won’t make it another mile! It’s time to stop.”
Barring injury, illness, or overtraining, don’t let your mind fool you. You can keep going, and you are so much stronger than you even know.
Hard things take time to do. Impossible things take a little longer.
One of the biggest things I struggle with is patience. I am not a patient person, but my body wasn’t built to be a get-fit-quick machine. Very few people have quick results while training or losing weight or getting healthier. If they do have quick results, the results sometimes aren’t long-lasting.
Dimity (from my all time favorite crew: Another Mother Runner) reminds me that the things I feel are hard will take time, but they will be so worth it. And the things I don’t think I can possibly do right now? They’ll take time, too, but I WILL get there.
If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.
Okay, going back to that first quote: remember when I said to eliminate “can’t” from your vocabulary? Well, scratch that. Sometimes, there are literally times you cannot do something. You may be putting yourself at risk if you do, or maybe you just deserve some rest.
For me, this quote was particularly relevant during my injury. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t bear weight on my foot. It was excruciating, both physically and mentally. But I knew I had to keep going and moving forward. It was the only way to heal.
However you apply this quote to yourself, make sure you only give yourself the opportunities to move forward in life. Learn from your past and keep going, full steam ahead. Don’t keep looking backward. You’re not going that way.
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
You didn’t think I would let you get away without a little book geekiness in here, did you? Although this quote isn’t directly about running, I have attached it deeply to running and many other parts of my life.
When I make the choice to get out of bed and lace up, that is what is important. My pace doesn’t matter. My mileage doesn’t matter. I need to stop beating myself up for feeling like I’m slow or bad or any other negative descriptor. I made a choice to defeat some sinister negative force, and there’s a little bit of magic in that.
Plus, Dumbledore quotes never get old.
As a special treat, please feel free to download the PDF versions of the images above. I made these as pretty little reminders for myself, but I’d love to share them if you feel like you could pull them out on a rough day.
Download “Clear your mind of can’t.”
Download “You will want to stop. Don’t.”
Download “Hard things…Impossible things…”
Download “If you can’t fly, run…”
Download “It is our choices…”
So what are your thoughts, my friends? What helps you to lace up when you don’t want to? How do you defeat the “I can’t” trolls? Please feel free to share a tip or a favorite quote below. You know I can’t get enough of those good ol’ words!