May 18, 2008

The M word.

No. Not that one!

I am talking about motivation.

Much like the ebb and flow of the tides, motivation moves in and out of life. I am pretty sure that this happens to everyone. Any long time reader of this very blog knows that I have fell victim to lack of motivation more often than not.


So this training cycle I have been trying to figure out where my motivation actually comes from. I finally have realized that where the motivation comes from is just as important to my success as putting in the miles, if not more important.

Lord knows that many of my training seasons have started out with great gusto and ended as absolute gunk because of a wain in motivation. I am getting really tired of this. This training season alone I have come pretty close to falling into that trap at least twice.

I guess the point I realize now is that I didn't fall into that trap!

I got over whatever knocked me down, in this case illness and travel, and got right back into the swing of things. That stuck a chord with me. In the past month my attitude towards training has changed organically, meaning without my forcing it or even trying to. I am no longer looking at my race schedule as motivation... I am looking at myself and my quality of life.

For instance, I have realized that the ultimate motivation for me does not lie within a PR. Nor does it lie within the possibility of accomplishing a feat that I never thought possible, be it running a mile, a marathon, or even completing a triathlon.

While I feel that these certainly served as great beginning motivators for me, they cannot remain my motivators moving forward. For me, once I get to a point that I feel I am going to kick butt and really go out and do it, something thwarts my efforts and I go from go!go!go! to oh crap why bother.

In my review of this very blog over the past two years, as well as my exercise logs, I have realized that I needed a change in motivation and goal.

My motivation does not come from seeing someone pass me on a hill mid race. Nor does it come from the vast bounty of food afterwards that I am "allowed" to devour because I earned it, right?

I cannot let this be motivation because that fosters and supports an idea that my exercise and training are for momentary and fleeting events, not a lifestyle change.

Motivation to keep going, to push harder, to just get moving once and for all... motivation to start should come from knowing that everyday you are out there on the hills, the treadmills, the stairs, the bike, the pavement, the pool, the weight room, the track, the rock climbing wall, the row ergometer, the yoga studio, the strength machines, just plain off of the sofa is one less day you could spend in an operating room due to heart failure, lung disease, obesity.

Every step forward is a step further away from serious lifestyle related health issues.

I have realized that my motivation is now rooted in my lifestyle. It is rooted in not being a walking time bomb anymore. My fitness has improved in the past year. My ability to go out and do has improved. With this change in my physical being, my emotional and psychological being had to change first.

Exercise went from being training for some mythical PR number or to beat that person who passed me on the hill to being a lifestyle. I actually feel better out there.

For instance, yesterday I met up with Lana Bananarama and the Michigan Mafia from for a little brick workout. I did an lacksidasical 14 mile bike followed by a very slow but enjoyable 5 mile trail run on the Potowatami trail.

The BT Gang in full gear - Lana H20Fan, Rick, Trix, Robyn

I made the grave mistake of not eating in the morning before this workout, which is something that I know that I need to work on. The bike was honestly the worst one ever for me- a slow and taxing hill workout. In spite of my performance on the hills and the lack of the nutrition I needed to sustain activity well out there, I was super happy to be out there doing it.

In the past, when my motivation came from PRs and performace, this ride alone would have set me off on the downward spiral of doubt in my ability. Instead of starting that route - I ate some goldfish (pretzels!) and downed some Heed, and laced up the Pearl's for a 5 mile trail run with Lana.

Oh yes. After the ride that kicked my azzzzz I still laced up for a 5 mile trail run.

And we did it. We took our time and ran as much as we could, walked when we needed to but at the end of the day we did the 5 mile trail run.

I felt wonderful at the end. I started out crabby and out of it, but I ended feeling strong and intune. I just completed a 5 mile TRAIL run, when I normally would be too weak mentally to take it on. And the best thing happened out there on those trails. I stopped worrying about time and just enjoyed the scenery. This wasn't training for a PR - this was training for a lifetime of active living!

My motivation has become getting out there and doing it so I can keep on doing it for years to come.

People may make fun of my training program, but this time I made my own up for me and it is working. I have become very flexible and the plan is not for time goals, it is to build confidence and ability and with that will come everything that I am working so hard towards.

So today after I type this and my Garmin is changed up - I have a choice to make.

  • Stay here on the sofa and watch TV.
  • Go to Bally's and swim.
  • Go to Kennsington and run or bike.

And I love that I have choices!

I leave you today with a thought on motivation. I think the best thing we can do for ourselves is to provide ourselves with appropriate motivation. You do not need motivation to move... you need to move to get motivation.

We train hard, we work hard for our goals... but if the underlying motivating factors are rooted in the wrong place - we are not fostering a good environment for our lifestyles.

Keep on running!
})i({ Runnergirl


Doug said...

There are three main types of motivation:

1) love
2) fear
3) greed

Anonymous said...

What was the other M word?
Good blog, lots to read, so I'' set some time aside. I've just started running and blogs like these make me want to keep going, thanks! :)