I looked up various websites about it, but my favorite way of breaking it down was About.com. They broke motivation down into 3 main components.
This is what caused you to do a certain behavior.
What caused me to me start running again so much? In a word: kids. I needed an outlet, some stress relief and living far away from a gym it was the easiest thing for me to do. I did one race four years ago and then with some encouragement the next year did even more and my first half marathon. I fell in love with competing and beating old times.
Persistence is the continued movement towards the goal
even though obstacles exist.
I have encountered lots of obstacles from injuries to lack of babysitters to bad weather. There is also the time devotion that training for longer races involves and the money to pay entry fees and get new shoes.
Every day there is that decision to put on my shoes and run..or not. 99% of the time when given a choice mine go on.
Intensity can be seen in the concentration
and vigor that goes into pursuing a goal.
I tend to train fairly intensely because I am a competitive person with myself. I want to do be fast. I want to get new PRs and I want to not be beaten by people I usually beat. If I know they are out there working their butts off that pushes me harder.
Out of the three components of motivation the one that most people have the problem with is persistence.
1. Not seeing progress soon enough.
2. Having to give up immediate pleasures to follow long term plans
3. Not believing in yourself and your ability to complete the goal.
(this website HERE goes into this in much more detail)
I believed for years I was not made to run a marathon. It was too far. I really thought for YEARS that I was not made to run longer than 6 or 7 miles. Now that is a short run for me.
My eyes are on the goal!