From Excuse to Motivation

Thanks to a comment on my previous post, I’m going to elaborate a bit about the excuse list and its ties to motivation.

The list was created over the years by groups I coach – specifically High Performance Running Club and RxRunning & Racing Club. And the last portion of excuses dates much further back to the late 70s; the high school years of Greg Mason. His list is courtesy of his Peoria IL high school coach.

During a team meeting each year we would state goals for the coming competitive season. In support of our goals we wanted to include some motivational fodder. In that vein, we would have a contest for the most creative, different or remarkable excuse for someone who didn’t get their workout in during the past year. Duplicates were not allowed; but twists on former listings were. Some are real incidents and some are quite fantasy. In the end, everyone would vote for the “best” excuse. Of course, prizes and pride were at stake here. Everyone wanted to have the best excuse not to get a run in.

Over the 35 plus years of my own running (yes I’ve used a good portion of these excuses) and hearing excuses by so many others (often duplicated) – I realized it would be handy to create a list to make it easier for everyone. Now I can just code in my workout journal – “0 miles, #133 & #98”. See, this is actually a very practical tool.

The point of the list is to clearly demonstrate that anything can become an excuse – real or imagined. Those who have an overriding purpose or reason for working out will simply not use an excuse… they will just do it.

There is also a serious side to the list. There are many what we might call “legitimate” excuses listed. Look down the list:

#87 heart arrhythmia; #129 a stress fracture; #145 brain cancer; #146 heart attack

Very real. Very sad. And very true.

But let me share with everyone something a little different about those situations:

#87- his spirit didn’t waver; he got back running – he just did it.
#129 – she did aqua-running and weights throughout her time off and came back fast – she just did it.
#145 – she made many of those track workouts… on the same day as her chemo-therapy treatments; sometimes only able to do a few laps; sometimes not much faster than a fast walk – she just did it.
#146 – was back running only weeks after the heart attack and racing within a couple months after – she just did it.

THEY are the ones who put these “excuses” on the list, not me. Now, you see how I don’t put much stalk in “there isn’t enough time”. To the individuals with excuses #87, #145 & #146 in particular – time is something precious. Isn’t it interesting that they can find some motivation, even humor given the context of the excuses on this list to add their own “excuse”. It is these people who see the folly of everything becoming an excuse NOT to do something. It is these people who lead the way. It is these people I take my hat off to. And you aren’t just a number to me – thank you John, Karen and Claudia – you are inspirations to me and to many others.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
This entry was posted in Motivation, Running, Running Humor, Sports Psychology, The Running Life - Philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to From Excuse to Motivation

  1. jim says:

    I feel fat

  2. shoedr says:

    Thanks for continuing to motivate and bring the best out of everyone! Sometimes a swift kick in the arse is just what someone needs every once in awhile! Check out my newest blog @

  3. #145 had breast cancer. Not trying to be “that guy”– but since breast cancer is so much more common, you may inspire even more people to just do it. Just ’cause of the numbers. Thanks for mentioning my beloved wife. I know she enjoyed her time with you.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Oh, Michael thank you so much for dropping by. Karen was a gem… and will never be forgotten. My wife successfully fought breast cancer last year. She is doing well. I hope you are doing well yourself.

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