Intrinsic/extrinsic motivation. Rewards and running.

Posted: June 17, 2015 in free, Janathon, Jantastic, Juneathon, running, win
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Why do I run?

How many blog posts try to answer this question?

I’m not sure I know the answer…to either of the above. Partly because the answer changes day to day, month to month, year to year.

I started initially so that a female friend at university didn’t have to run alone at night when we were on placement in a new place. But I found myself still going for runs when she said she couldn’t make it.
Stress relief. I think that is still the main reason for me.

One of the best explanations from someone else that I have seen, is one with which you may already be familiar if you are within the running world.
It’s by ‘the oatmeal’ and can be found here.

Gimmicks can help get me out running too. I remember being given an iPod and a Nike+ foot pod thing many years ago now. Then using the Nike+ app with its sort of internal pedometer (my iPod didn’t have gps).
When I eventually got a smart phone, that opened up a new means of run recording, via gps tracked runs. I used apps like endomondo, runkeeper and more recently Strava.  Seeing the miles clock up and seeing speed and distance improvements certainly helped, along with the various other stats.
Also parkrun – the run not a race  (but where you push yourself hard over that final straight so that person you’ve been ‘leapfrogging’ with over the past 4.8km doesn’t overtake again over the final 200m) adds a new element to running motivation for some. Some people don’t miss a week.

This Juneathon and Janathon malarkey… Exercise everyday, blog everyday for a month… Or doing a ‘runstreak’… Motivating? Definitely at times. But if you miss a day, what happens to that motivation?

Jantastic – the initiative from the marathon talk folk was really useful for helping me to get out and running over the first three months of this year in preparation for a marathon in April.

Would I have got out and run without it? Probably. But I think it helped.

Or did it?
Do any of these things?

Or do they do the opposite?

Would I still do Juneathon if nobody read/liked/commented?

Does the motivation come from within (intrinsic), or externally (extrinsic) in the form of whatever ‘reward’ we perceive we get?

Moreover, does the introduction of extrinsic rewards lead to an overall decrease in intrinsic motivation once the external rewards are removed?

I remember the above hypothesis was a generally accepted one in sports psychology around the time that I did my GCSE in physical education …errr…a few years ago.
There was some experiment where people were observed regarding the length of time spent playing with a puzzle. They were then paid a small amount for solving puzzles the next day, and then the day after that the pay was removed and the puzzle playing dramatically decreased. (If I was still at university, I’d have to reference that, but because I’m not, and I’m feeling lazy, I’m not going to. Such a rebel!)

This hypothesis – that intrinsic motivation was decreased by the introduction and subsequent removal of extrinsic rewards – was perhaps a rather sweeping statement to make anyway as more recent studies seem to suggest things are a little more complex and that in some circumstances extrinsic rewards can actually enhance intrinsic motivation. (If you are interested to read more, there’s a bit of a summary at www.appliedsportpsych.org )

This is good news, I think.
I don’t want to be decreasing my desire to be active by using the various gadgets/apps/rewards-websites that I do. But… and unfortunately, I have to admit, I can think of times when this has happened in the past… I don’t want to not get out of the house because I can’t find my phone/ipod, or stop a run because my app has crashed and ‘it won’t count’.

So maybe it’s good to get out every now and again without an app, without an iPod, without even a goal or a session plan in mind. Just go. If you don’t think you would, or could, then maybe your intrinsic motivation has been decreased?

Now… not to undermine all of that… but intended as an extra, an add-on, a ‘sign-up and forget about it’ sort of thing, I have joined up with two rewards sites. One (Bounts) has been going for a while and the other (Running Heroes) only started up in the UK in this past month.
Both sites award points for the exercise you record via any number of apps and you can then exchange these points for tangible rewards such as discount vouchers, gift cards, etc.
It would be a real shame if it ever got to the point where anyone just ran for the purpose of earning these points, but personally, I figure, “if I’m running anyway…why not?”. I am currently at a point with Bounts where I’m just a few runs away from being able to get a £10 supermarket gift card… effectively for runs I’d have done anyway.

If you haven’t already signed up to Bounts and you are thinking about it, then for a limited time we can both get a load of extra points if you sign up through this link or quote avery1132 when you sign up.

I was also contacted by Running Heroes recently and in addition to bonus points if you sign up through this link, they also sent me an instant 100 point bonus code ‘run67run‘ which they said I could share with my readers.

My personal idea with these sites is, having signed up, just to forget about them for a while. They sync up automatically with the apps I use and the points build up over time for what I do anyway. If someone wants to send me vouchers for doing that – great.

Yesterday, I played tennis. I didn’t get any (website-related) points for that. I still enjoyed it. Intrinsic motivation still intact there. Today it’s back to running, though…and I’ll probably get a few points for it… But that’s not the reason I’m going.

If you use these sites, I’d be interested to know what you think of them too. Let me know.

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Comments
  1. […] Intrinsic/extrinsic motivation. Rewards and running. June 17, 2015 […]

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