Motivation Vacation

Posted on April 27, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This week has been tough.  I think my motivation took a vacation and I’ve been finding it hard to get out of bed each morning to run.  It seems that the momentum leading into our race last week, plus some unexpected stress (an oxymoron, I think) took its toll on my self-discipline.  Such is life.

To insure that I don’t have another week like this one, I’ve had to remind myself of some of the reasons I really do enjoy getting my butt out of bed and onto the pavement or in to the gym:

  1. Stars.  I love to run before dawn and stare at the stars.  They have been more visible in some places I’ve lived than others, but no matter where I am I inevitably run with my face up.  An added bonus in the summer is fireflies, which are like fallen stars.
  2. Peace.  Another reason I love to run before dawn.  Few cars.  Occasional fellow runners.  The time and space to get my head together.
  3. More food, less guilt.  Not that I’ve ever missed a meal.  Trust me.  I am blessed with a high metabolism (for which my sister hates me) so I eat a lot anyway.  But if I can get a pizza in guilt free, then what the hay?
  4. Bathing suit season.  Need I say more?
  5. I have triceps?  By gum, I do!  I found them just recently hidden somewhere under a layer of skin.  I would hate to lose them again.  It was a long, bloody battle to find them in the first place.

Only five reasons, one for each week day, but there are many more.  On weekends I bike, which means I get to go downhill really fast.  That’s always worth getting up for.

I’d love to hear from the rest of you.  What keeps you motivated when life wants to crash your training party?

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Posted on April 13, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This week I hit two milestones:

1.            I finally reached my sprint goal.  (Yay!)

2.            I officially registered for the June sprint tri.

I’ve been working toward my sprint goal for a good couple of months.  I was so happy when I reached it this week that I almost pulled a George Jetson and flew backwards off the treadmill.  Thank goodness for railings.

Not only was I ecstatic because I actually reached my goal, I was—and am—ecstatic because attaining my goal means I get to set a new one.  A bigger one.  A more challenging one.

Which is why I am doing the sprint tri.  I’ve said that this will be my third tri.  It will actually be my third and a half.  I was so nervous the first time around that my friend and I entered as a two (wo)man team.  The tri was called A Little Sand in Your Shoe, and it was on the beach in Guam.

I had to swim from Tumon Bay out to a sand bar and back, bury a ball in the sand, then run down the beach to tag my teammate. She had to ride her bike through the jungle (one participant got lost—I think I got the good end of the deal), run back down the beach, and dig up the ball I had buried.

Except that I was so caught up in the event that I didn’t mark the location of our ball well enough, and my teammate couldn’t find it.  We came in 2nd place for the 2-man team anyway.  It didn’t matter that there were only two teams.  I was hooked.

As I was thinking about that race this week, I recalled the reason I entered it in the first place.  It was a challenge.  A fun way to see how far I could push myself, see what my body could do.  Only I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to do it alone, and I was fortunate to have a friend in the same boat.  Funny how often we end up hanging out with people who are so like us.

That got me to thinking about the reason I set out to do two sprint tris on my own.  My motivation for them, as it turns out, was not so uplifting.  Each of the two tris were like bookends containing a a heavy life load.  The collapse of a marriage.  Sickness. Death.  I needed something to hold on to, something of my own. I needed to know that I could rely on myself—and I needed to preoccupy my mind and my time.  At this point in life, I was figuring out how to do that without self-destructing.

Turns out that running—competing in tris and half marathons and other races—is good therapy.  It shows you what you’re made of.  It gives you confidence and peace. At least it does for me.

This time, my third full sprint tri, I am back to where I started in Tumon Bay—almost. I set this particular goal not to dull any pain or preoccupy my mind.  I am blessed.  Life is, after all, really good.  I set this goal to challenge myself, and to have fun.  But now I have the confidence to rely on my own abilities, whether I succeed or fail.

I may know who I am, but races always surprise me.  I get to learn more about what I’m made of.  And that’s a goal worth achieving.

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A Trying Time

Posted on March 23, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I once read that it took Thomas Edison 10,000 attempts to make the light bulb before he finally got it right.  10,000. Can you imagine?

If you are near a mirror, take a look at your eyebrows.  I’ll wait.

Can you count the number of hairs in just one?  Seems like too many to count, at least in one sitting, doesn’t it?  There are about 450.  Edison failed more than 22 times that number.  Nevertheless, he didn’t give up.

Think you could try—and fail—at something more times than you really want to count?

I thought about this the other day when my alarm went off way before dawn on sprint day.  Now sprints, I just love sprints.  Really I do.  But I haven’t yet reached my goal speed.  I’ve tried.  And failed.  And tried again.  Once a week, for months.  Sometimes I think that instead of trying yet again, I should revise my goal, make it easier.

So when my eyes shot open (the alarm volume is set to fear-raising) and I remembered that it was sprint day, my stomach was not pleased.  It turned back over on its own. Geez, I thought, it’s so early and I’m so tired and it’s going to be so hard. Do I really even want to try?

But when I flicked on my lamp I remembered Edison and his 10,000 attempts.  Not failures, he said, only 10,000 ways that didn’t work.  I rolled myself and my stomach out of bed.

Edison was a pretty smart man and maybe one of the hardest working men in history.  As I climbed on the treadmill that morning, I thought about something else he said:  “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

And so I ran.

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The Joy of Sprinting

Posted on March 2, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , |

Wednesdays used to be Prince spaghetti days. Now they’re sprint days.

For years I avoided doing sprints. Although I had read article after article about the benefits of sprints—how they boost metabolism, strengthen the cardiovascular system, strengthen muscle, increase endurance, increase human growth hormone…do I need to go on?—I talked myself out of doing them.  Why?  Fear.

I watched other runners sprint.  Saw how fast they ran, how easy they made it look, how lean they were, and I did what I knew I shouldn’t.  I compared myself to them.  I could never do that, I told myself, never be like them.   Never, ever run that fast without breaking a bone or falling flat on my face.

Then just over two years ago I was invited to the Beach to Bay Relay in Corpus Christi, Texas, a marathon length relay race divided into 6 legs.  I was to be part of a team.  Leg 6.

No pressure.  Just the one to pick up any slack the rest of the team might have dropped.  The one to cross the finish line—on behalf of a team.

For the first time since I’d started running, I would be running not for myself, but for others.  In my mind, I couldn’t let them down.  So I decided to incorporate into my training the one tool I had been too afraid to use.  Sprints.

When I first started them, I hated it.  It hurt physically and mentally.  Running sprints forced me to confront all my self-doubt.  Who was I really, and why was I doing this? What was I made of—and was it good enough?

The more I stretched my self-imposed limitations, the more I began to enjoy sprinting.  It reinforced what I already sort of knew—the human body is remarkable and can do pretty much anything.  Provided the mind allows it to.

Running sprints also helped me to get a handle on one of the reasons I took up running—the need to see how far I could push my body until it broke.  I hadn’t been putting all my effort into running, and until I did, I wouldn’t know my true limitations, physical and mental.

I still find it fascinating to learn how my body works.  I have learned, for instance, that on the treadmill I cannot go from a full out sprint to a stop for water because my blood pressure can drop too quickly, say from 164 to 86, which is not conducive to standing.

I find it even more fascinating to learn how my mind works.  I have let my gut take over when I run.  My rational mind used to make a plan that looked like this:  Start sprints on the treadmill at a safe speed (not faster than last week), run four incrementally faster sprints, cycle back down four, then stop.  Very safe. Very rational.  But not very effective at exceeding those boundaries.

Now I don’t worry so much about a plan.  I do sprints on Wednesdays. That’s the plan.  Start at a speed higher than last week and run as many incrementally higher sprints as I can until my legs turn to noodles.  Then I run one more.

Now I love running sprints.  And I suppose Wednesdays can still be Prince spaghetti days.  Maybe for breakfast.  After sprints.

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