Balance, moderation help keep your passion for running alive

Credit: Stu Forster/Allsport
As a competitor myself and a sports psychologist for the past 19 years, I've known a lot of distance runners, and I've never met a conscientious one who hasn't experienced some degree of this "love/hate relationship" with their sport.

Whenever we feel passion for something, we tend to overindulge until we become bored or burned out.

I know of no way to maintain a constant love for running, but consider the following suggestions to help nurture longer, more satisfying periods of motivation.

1. Create a list of reasons why you love running (social, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits). Hang this list on your refrigerator door and read it often, particularly during down times.

2. Understand that regardless of how much we love anything in life, breaks from our passions are natural and even advisable. Moderation fuels motivation over the long haul; obsessiveness does not.

3. Consider balance. Variety is the spice of sport, as well as life. Seek ways to vary your running program: Change where and when you run, or substitute a day of biking, swimming or walking each week. Remember to have fun while you train.

4. If you get trapped in the middle of a "hate state," don't fight back. Ask yourself what it is that's bothering you. Are your workouts too hard? Too fast? Too long? Too lonely? Change what you can; the key is to switch to a plan that works.

In a sense, running is like life: It has its ups and downs. When you're down, go back to the basics of moderation, balance, patience and acceptance. Only then will your passion beckon you to return.

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