Tag Archives: motivation

Marathon Meditations

Around the time I was training for the Boston Marathon, my cousin casually remarked that he never imagined that, of all people, I would be the one to eventually run a marathon, much less the Boston Marathon. No offense meant and none taken. Growing up, I never in my wildest dreams foresaw a future in which so much of my time and energy was consumed by running. No, not consumed. Enthusiastically given.

running-favoriteI’ve been running for almost 10 years, and what started as a habit eventually grew into a passion. Running provided recreation, rejuvenation, purpose, focus, and everything else that helped me get through the day. It took me a while to set my sights on anything grander than a 5k, but as my confidence and goal distances gradually increased, so did my commitment to routines and regimens that would help me cross the finish line (in varying states of functionality). In the past four years, I’ve crossed finish lines (and picked up awesome medals!) in four different marathons.

2013 – Colfax Marathon
2014 – Richmond Marathon (my BQ!)
2015 – Marine Corps Marathon
2016 – Boston Marathon

Which begs the question – what’s in store for 2017? I should have another marathon on the calendar. Currently, I don’t. There are a few reasons behind that. First, I need to figure out the chronic plantar fasciitis I’ve had for over two years now. I’ve taken off a month at a time to focus on strengthening the muscle groups around it and try out various treatments, but it always comes back as soon as I start running again. Big problem. Second, my relationship with running seems to have stalled to the point where almost no amount of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation can influence me out the door. Also a problem.

dory-raceAlthough I may have little to no motivation to run, and injuries that probably (certainly) need more patience and attention than I’m giving them, those factors have had absolutely no impact on my desire to race. Every time I overhear conversations about races, training plans, nutrition strategies, and the latest gear, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. Spectating at races also feeds into this obsession because watching everyone else enjoy (or suffer through) the race gives me major “Fear Of Missing Out” (though I’m certainly helping by providing support and enthusiasm!). I’ve been part of that so many times before, and I want to continue to be part of that.

The desire to reach the finish line is there. I could easily go and sign up for all the races I have my eye on (once my next paycheck comes through). The more important question is whether I can and will train for those races. Hard to say right now. For the time being, I’m happy to stay in hibernation a bit longer, but I’m going to be intentional about this hibernation instead of nonchalant about the time off (like I have been the past few months). I’m hoping the time to reflect will also give me time to reconnect with my running roots, discover the different motivation I am so desperately in need of, and recommit myself to feeling awesome about and inspired by what my body is capable of doing. Those are the feelings that have carried me through the past 10 years, and those are the feelings I hope will carry me through a lifetime of running.

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The Person I was Yesterday (and the Person I am Today)

Haters gon’ hate, but I’ll own it: I’m a big fan (and believer) of inspirational quotes. They are incredibly effective at improving my mood and boosting my motivation. Running quotes cover the whole gamut from snarky, cynical quips that challenge me to push myself, to uplifting, affirming statements of encouragement (best pictured against a backdrop of sunshine, daisies (Daizies), and rainbows. Maybe even a unicorn). I love them. I bookmark them online. I write them down. I think about them when I hit the long, dark teatime of a run.

There are a TON of quotes about competition in running (most of which I have on reserve for later reflections and blog posts). I love these quotes not only because they are inspirational, but also because they emphasize the idea that the competitive aspect of running is against yourself, not other runners. Granted, there is a small segment of runners that do actually run competitively and actively seek to finish ahead of other runners. They exist in some alternate reality as they pass me in a blur on the way to the finish line. I’m a bit more on par with all the other weekend warriors that pound the pavement (or trails) fighting fierce mental and physical battles for entirely personal reasons.

better than person yesterdayMany of these quotes focus on celebrating incremental improvements in self from one day to the next and taking heart in becoming better than you were the day before. On the surface, I love that idea. It reminds me that my journey is mine alone, and comparing myself to somebody else’s PR is an entirely arbitrary (and invalid) judgment of my personal progress.

What I don’t like about that sentiment is that sometimes I was better yesterday than I am today. Well, to be more accurate, I was better quite a few yesterdays ago than I am today (I’m thinking specifically of the Gallop and Gorge 8k turkey trot, where my average race pace was more than a full minute slower this year compared to last year). It’s not always fair to compare myself to a past version of myself because 1) it is still a comparison and 2) it doesn’t always help to define my current reality. When I feel kinda bummed that I’m not currently running at a Boston-qualifying pace (and there are many days I feel kinda bummed about it), looking back at my past self and performance doesn’t help me to see what is currently going well with my running. Focusing on the disparity not only makes me feel frustrated and impatient, but also defeats the purpose of why I run in the first place – because I love running. Running doesn’t bring me quite as much enjoyment when I don’t feel all warm and fuzzy about it.

In situations like this, I find myself walking the narrow line between acceptance and betterment (not that I walk this line often, but occasionally I try).  Constantly striving to improve my performance means never being satisfied with everything I am currently capable of. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but there is also always the opportunity to celebrate achievements. On the other hand, acceptance feels like resignation, defeat. Those feelings hardly offer motivation for running, much less pushing my limits. Walking the line between the two means it’s not one or the other – I need both. To improve myself, I must accept where I am now. In the meantime, I’ll try to celebrate every little victory as if it were another BQ. That being said, cheers to managing a sub-8 pace at the Gallop and Gorge this year, which means I beat my goal time by 21 seconds!

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