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Motivation and Inspiration: the chicken/ egg Venn diagram

Most of us want to be motivated, and most of us love to be inspired. But are they different, and do we need them both to get out and run?

motivation inspiration for sport

Do you feel any different when you say you’re motivated, to when you say you’re inspired? Or do you use them as two words for the same thing?

They’re similar in that they both get us out there training (there’s a bit of a Venn diagram going on here – remember those from school?!) And which comes first – inspiration or motivation? Knowing the difference between what motivates you and what inspires you, can help you get out that door when it’s early/ late/ cold/ hot/ raining.

Inspiration is the big picture or dream element. It’s wanting to run for big ideas like to discover the world, or to fulfill your unlocked potential. We’re often inspired by people – I expect we can all think of runners like Paula and Mo who inspire us to run faster times. Sometimes we’re inspired by places – you might find a beautiful valley or river, or a new town, that you would love to explore by running.

Becoming inspired can be quite a sudden feeling – hearing an Olympic athlete’s interview, or seeing a beautiful landscape – these influences spark us deep inside to want to get out and run, bike, swim, or maybe all three. Sometimes we’re inspired to run straight away – you put your trainers on right after watching the London marathon and go for a run. Mostly the feeling stays with you deep inside and still influences and inspires you over the long term to run.

AOYS Inspiration

Motivation is what gets your trainers on and out running every day. It’s how to make the inspiration happen. Motivation is the little tricks you need to keep working on so that you don’t talk yourself out of running, or out of trying hard in a more difficult workout.

You may have heard of extrinsic (external) and intrinsic (internal) motivation. Extrinsic could include running to get rewards such as medals, or training from a sense of obligation to someone else. Intrinsic is more personal, like a challenge you really want to achieve, or enjoying the feeling of belonging to a running community. It means you get enjoyment from the activity itself. Your motivation will change over time, but you’re more likely to keep training and keep motivated if you’ve got more intrinsic motivation in your mix.

Motivation can be harder than inspiration. I quite often feel very inspired to run faster race times when I’m talking about running with a glass or two of prosecco! Fast forward to the next day when I’m feeling tired, although the overall inspiration is still there, I need an immediate motivation to get out and run. I might tell myself I’ll be annoyed if I get to the event start line and haven’t done the training, or that I’ll regret it all day if I don’t run.

AOYS Motivation

Inspiration and motivation are both very personal. Something that inspires one person to train hard for 6 months might not move another person out of bed for 1 run! You also know what will motivate you on a daily basis. It could be a tick on your training plan, a piece of cake, or satisfaction from having pushed yourself.

It can help to pin a picture or phrase of your inspiration somewhere prominent like on the fridge or by your desk. Reminding yourself of your inspiration will help your daily motivation. And if you don’t have a picture, why not print out the chicken/egg and write yours on it – who knew chickens could be so inspiring?!

Which do you think comes first – inspiration or motivation? What inspires or motivates you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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