Posted by: pursuingsub17 | March 3, 2010

Why am I doing this?


I had a good conversation with Marc this afternoon. I’ve been struggling with motivation for the last two or three months. I’ve been getting my workouts in but it takes a great effort to want to – particularly during the week when I’m so drained from work, I just can’t muster up the “kapow” to put in my tempo run or spin spikes on the bike. So today, out and about and doing errands for work, I noticed Marc called so I called him back.

He wanted to know how my day was going. I said good. Then I suddenly said, “I have to do a 13K tempo run today – speed work actually – and I know I should but I just don’t want to.” I had told him before I didn’t know why I was doing this but this time I realized that was why I wasn’t motivated.

“Why are you doing this?” he said. “You keep telling me ‘I have to go for a run’, not ‘I want to.’ You have to want to do this because you enjoy it.”

I said “I do enjoy it. I love the thrill of the race.” To which he responded that if I don’t do my workouts, I should expect to feel pretty crappy during the race. Then I told him I like my long runs and bikes and swims but I dread having to push myself.

“Why do you push yourself?” he asked.

“Because I want to be faster.”

“Faster than who?”

Out it came…”Prima”. (of course, I actually said her real name but to protect the innocent…). Then I said that was ridiculous. She’s crazy fast and I know that trying to get the same time as her is not something I can achieve without hurting myself. Really. It’s true. It’s one thing to excel but it’s another to know your limitations. So then I added “I think I lost the real reason why I’m doing this and how much I enjoy training half way through last year when I started getting competitive.” This year became worse because the coach that I picked, Marc’s old coach, is crazy competitive and I was getting caught up in his ra ra ra.

So that was it. That’s why I am having trouble. Marc said I need to go think back to when I was enjoying going out for a run. He said “when you enjoy it again, you’ll get better. If you dont’ enjoy it, you won’t.”

I see now the difficulty some athletes face when they start racing more often. After your very first race, it’s all about the achievement. The feeling that you did something not a lot of people do. Then after your second you start thinking “okay, next year I have to beat my time” and you start looking at the times of others you were racing against in your age group and start comparing yourself and you become obsessed with time. You time your runs and swims and bikes and soon that’s all that matters – beating last week’s workout time. I forgot why I was doing this. At the end of the conversation, I said “I just want you to be proud of me.”

Marc said “I am. You’re doing things not a lot of people do. Some people are just as happy to say they finished…not they finished in record time. In the end, we all have the same medal.”

That’s right. I’m not competing for a sponsorship or an Olympic gold. I’m trying to become a better, healthier person. Whether I finish in the top 10 in my age group or dead last, I will be doing something that no one in my family for generations has ever done. Next year I’ll have an Ironman Finisher hat and a medal to prove that – even if I crawl across that line at 16:59:59.

Marc said “don’t run a 13K in an hour and 22 mins. Run an hour and a half or less if you want. But don’t even look at the distance.”

So I’m going out for a run today. I’m going to run fast – but I’m not going to push myself. I’m going to enjoy the weather and the scenery and I’ll look at my watch when I get home. And I’m going to enjoy the fact that I went outside for a run in the fresh air instead of drink beer and eat chips.

By the way – I thanked Marc. It was the best piece of advice a coach could give 🙂

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