Monday, April 14, 2008

What am I doing?

It's funny how motivation works. Back in the day, when I was a gymnast, my coach struggled to find ways to motivate me. His poison was always yelling at me, which never worked. Instead I would cry, but try not to cry, thus hyperventilating and every time he would kick me out of the gym until I could control myself. After 4 years of our relationship, he finally figured out that I would need something different. Being that I've always been a rewards person, he would reward me for each trick landed or series of tricks landed instead of yelling at me for being too frightened.

When I coached I would not yell but would also use the reward/consequence system. This worked pretty well and only a few times did I have to pull a kid aside and discipline or work with an kid individually to find out how to motivate him/her.

As an individual athlete with no coach, I have struggled with motivation and this year has seemed exceptionally difficult. I used to reward myself for things like running all my miles in a month, losing a few pounds, etc., but being that I haven't followed my training plan whatsoever for this marathon, that hasn't worked. Being that I am extremely competitive watching my friends kick my butt used to motivate me but now I've kinda said, "What does it matter anyway?"

There were two events that I followed this weekend. The first was the Columbus Distance Classic, which is a big half marathon here in Columbus. A girl who I have trained with for a few years and who recently I gave my training plan to ran a 1:39. This is awesome! But, I've wanted to go under 1:41 for years now and I'm not even close. My old self should be motivated by this, but I'm not. It almost makes me want to stop running with my group. They're not helping me get faster anyway. The second event I watched was Ironman Arizona. All day long, Dave and I were checking the websites to watch Carrie complete her first Ironman. And she totally smashed it! I truly am so proud of her and can't wait to read her account of the race. Since I am about to start my training for the half Ironman and Ironman this should motivate me as a first timer, but truthfully it scares me to death. And why should I even try?

I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while. I am excited to get a few days off; I am excited to spend the weekend with my running friends; and I am excited to run my 10th marathon. There is a part of me, though, that can't wait for this weekend to be over. My training has, in a word, sucked. I ran 15 miles last week. FIFTEEN! Dave has been training consistently for the half Ironman and it is starting to show--not only physically but he's starting to get faster and it has me worried a little (seriously, I have to beat him). I am ready to start training for triathlon. I just want the marathon to be over so I can move on.

And yet, I want to do better. I want to beat that elusive 3:30 that I cannot seem to break. I was really disappointed when I didn't get into the Nike Women's Marathon. I had decided that this was going to be a one marathon year and that I would just concentrate on triathlon for the next year and a half. What did I do this morning?

I put myself in the lottery for the St. George Marathon on October 4th.

What am I doing?


Marcus Grimm said...

re: What am I doing?

The optimistic spin is that you really want to break 3:30 and realize your training might not allow that this time, so you've got your next move planned.

The pessimistic spin is that you're jeopardizing your own success so you have a built-in excuse when you miss your goal. (I only know this because I've done it myself many times. :) )

As far as motivation or why we do this -- the truth is always personal and the truth is always training. That's why a long-term goal of beating other runners won't last very long. But you know time isn't all it's about, either... You can be in the best shape of your life and end up on a bad course on a windy day, or be in crappy shape and end up on a short, flat course on a cloudless day. It's all relative.

Do this marathon for you because it's your 10th, and 10 is a pretty cool number (I've done 1 and I'm impressed w/ 10). After that, take a week and reflect about the next big thing. 11, after all, is a great number, too.

Anonymous said...

wow, Marcus, that was insightful. I'm not an athlete, by any means, so maybe I can't really relate, although I've found that things just "change" over time, and maybe your life or your priorities are different. Not that you don't care about running anymore, but that you care about it differently, or other things are more important. or maybe I'm just full of hot air. that would be typical! ;-)

Allison said...

Hi, I hope you don't mind a recent follower of your blog chiming in.

Your post really resonated with me because I am having similar motivation issues. I have to say though that, motivated or not, reading about your goals motivates *me*.

Perhaps focusing on the Ironman training will give you that break from "pure" marathon racing that you need so you can rediscover your love for it later. Or maybe you'll go out and kick some booty on the St. George course (which looks beautiful, but then again, I'm partial to my home state). :)