Cognitive Dissonance

If you went to college for anything other than Engineering, odds are good you probably took Psychology 101. In your first week of class, you probably learned one of social psychology’s most interesting and provocative theories: Cognitive Dissonance.

In case you skipped class that day, let me remind you. Basically the theory says that most people believe that their behaviors are influenced by their attitudes. In reality, it’s much more likely to be a two-way street. Attitudes can be just as motivated by our behaviors- especially when we find ourselves rationalizing behaviors that don’t reflect our beliefs.

Here’s your classic example:

Belief: I am not a wuss who lets people walk all over me or treat me badly.

Behavior: I let my fraternity brothers haze me.

NEW BELIEF: I only tolerate this treatment because it’s worth it. This is the best fraternity on campus.



You know where I’m going with this.

Why do we run 16 miles on a hot day when our feet are throbbing and our joints ache? Because it’s worth it?

Why do we believe it’s worth it?

Because it must be worth it or we wouldn’t have run 16 miles on a hot day.

My point is that if you’re feeling unmotivated at the moment, don’t stress about it too much. Just lace up your shoes and get your butt on the road and the motivation will come. The longer your training runs become, the more committed to the marathon you will get. Trust me. And the more injuries you sustain, the more you’ll believe this was all worth it. I guarantee it. So go out and train this week in this un-holy humidity. It will only serve to solidify your commitment to this sport.


About marathonermegan

Training for my first marathon
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