Sunday, April 29, 2012

Motivation vs. Inspiration

I'm still dealing with the saga of finding the right running shoes, but I'm sick to death of talking about it. My running is suffering for it, on all levels from motivation to my stamina. So today's post is going to be about something totally different.

This is going to be a word connotation post. You've been warned.

Many runners use the words "motivation" and "inspiration" interchangeably, but I've always felt there is a difference there. If you were to ask me, "What motivates you?" you would receive a far different answer than to the question, "What inspires you?"

I see motivation and inspiration as literal figures. When I close my eyes, they're there, reaching their hands out. But those reaching hands serve very different purposes. Motivation is using those hands to push me forward: out of bed, into shoes, out the door. Inspiration, on the other hand, is constantly a few meters ahead of me, calling backward and gesturing for me to catch up.

You see, to me, motivation pushes; inspiration pulls.

I think it's important to have a balance of both of these for all things, but for running it's especially important. If I'm relying entirely on motivation, I have no goal. If I'm relying entirely on inspiration, I'm skipping important steps to get myself where I need to be. And honestly, I could be inspired by Jackie Joyner-Kersee, but without motivation to get me moving, it's all talk. "Oh yeah, she's amazing, totally inspiring! Just thinking about running an 800 in under three minutes makes me tired! I'm going to take a nap."

I don't know why this difference is so important to me. Maybe it's just that I like words. Maybe it's that I'm a little crazy. Probably the latter. But the point is, having a clear idea of what pushes you forward and what pulls you in the right direction can help you stoke the fires of your own will.

I know that a new running playlist, new running clothes, the high I know I'll feel at the end, the freedom I'll feel, and my sense of accomplishment are great motivators. Thinking of these things will get my feet (and the rest of me) out the door.

My power song, friends who run, beating a PR, and words of wisdom inspire me to keep going. I need more motivation than inspiration because once I'm going, I'm good. I need more help getting out there in the first place.

Take a moment to think about what you would place into each category. Your lists will probably be different than mine. But knowing what can get you moving, or keep you going, can help you stay on track for whatever you're pushing toward. It's worth taking some time to think about.



  1. I like your distinction! ('Cause I like words too.)

  2. I really never thought of it like this...and I love your quote that motivation pushes you, inspiration pulls you...awesome and so true...I am motivated to get outside and run because I know my body craves/needs/loves it...and I am inspired by other runners stories, and really good music...blessings! Following you now...follow back if you'd like

    1. So glad you found something you like here! I love getting to the point in my running where my body really raves it. That's truly the best motivation, because it comes from within. Thanks fort he follow! Following you back. :o)