Why do you run? What’s the reward?

Bushy Park

I am currently reading Busy – How to thrive in a world of too much by Tony Crabbe. Good book. Worth reading.

In it, he refers to a study in 1973 by Mark R Lepper and David Greene from Stanford University and Richard Nisbitt from the University of Michigan who ran an experiment with children you loved drawing.

Some were told they would be rewarded for drawing, and the others were not. Over the weeks, the children drew and some were rewarded and others weren’t. The researchers observed how often the children chose to draw of their own free will when no reward was involved.

Those who were not rewarded spent around twice as much time drawing as those who had been rewarded. The study shows that motivation comes from the activity itself and not from rewards.

All the kids loved drawing, but after being rewarded, they were less interested unless they were rewarded. They had a reason for drawing and it wasn’t for the fun of it. The reward turned play into work.

Running (and other activities)

This can sometimes happen with running or other activities. You get wrapped up in the goal, the PB, the plan. All you can think about is the rest, the recovery, and the next run. It starts to lose its fun. It feels a little bit like work!

Just like anything in life, (especially those unplanned nights out), the best runs are the ones you don’t think about. In the morning, without knowing, you just pull your trainers on, step out the door with no distance or goal in mind and go running. You just want to go. You just want to enjoy it.

I’ve recently taken a break from running as I got a little bogged down in the goal. But now I feel the pull to just go and run again. No rewards, just running. Just like those kids and their drawing.

The break has stoked the fire. I‘m signing up for a few races over the winter and I’m going to see what happens when i take the pressure off. Just go, do them and enjoy them. I’ll work steadily through the winter and enjoy my running for running’s sake.

What are your winter training plans?

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