Over the last week, a few things have happened that are really leaving me questioning what inspires people. What makes people want to do their best? What makes them get out there every day and push themselves beyond their comfort level? Just what is that motivating factor?
I first started pondering this thought last Sunday during my long run. I had been dreading that particular run because I had to do it solo. 13 miles in the middle of the day, by myself. Yuck. But, to my great joy, just shortly after hopping on the running path, I caught up with a girl and invited myself to run with her. (Yup, I totally hijacked her run for my own selfish needs. And it worked! At least 4 of my miles went by fast!) While we were running along chatting it up, I asked her if she was training for a race. She said, “No, I just run for fitness.” Ok. Fair enough. Then she asked me how far I was running, and I said 13 miles. She responded, “OH! I’ve done that once! It was so much fun. I hope to do it again some day.” My response, of course, was to ask her what race it was that she had done (since a half marathon is 13.1 miles). She laughed and said, “It wasn’t a race. It was just for fitness.”
In that instant it hit me that my biggest motivating factor for running is to be able to complete (and sometimes even COMPETE in) races. If I didn’t sign up for races and have an end goal in mind, I would not continue to run. I sure as heck would not be going out and running 13 miles for fun, or simply for my “fitness.” It honestly leaves me flabbergasted that someone could be that driven by an end goal of maintaining fitness. Yes, that’s an awesome goal, but where is the fun in it?! I guess I need a fun factor, and a specific date to be aiming at to keep me going.
And, it just so happens that while I was out there doing that mostly-solo run on Sunday afternoon, there were A LOT of people out there completing Ironman events at the exact same time. In fact, Ironman Louisville and Michigan Titanium (both of the Ironman events that I have completed) took place last Sunday. So then, of course, I started thinking about what even led me to sign up for my first Ironman. What was that motivating factor? I’d say that the number one thing was that my sister wanted to do it, and she wanted me to do it with her. (I am really big on doing races with family or friends!) And probably the second biggest motivating factor was that when I told my mom I might sign up for an Ironman, the first thing she said to me was, “You can’t swim 2.4 miles!” HA! I quickly learned that the fastest way to get me motivated to do something is to tell me I can’t do it! That might have been the first time that anyone had ever told me to my face that they didn’t think I could do something. I didn’t like it! And at that moment I had something to prove. (Please note that my mom has always been my biggest cheerleader, and she has always led me to believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. She supported me through all of my training and I think deep down she knew I could do it. It was just a moment of fear. No one wants their child to set a goal they can’t reach! And the Ironman is a HUGE goal to set!)
And the final thing over the last week that led me to question the whole idea of motivation was talking to a coworker and being elated to find out that she has been inspired by my blog to start training for her first 5k! How awesome is that?! She said that knowing it’s not easy for me either has helped her to be more accepting that it’s not easy for her. So my whining and complaining about how hard it is has actually been useful! Wahoo! Just knowing that I am doing something to motivate anyone out there to get up and do something is enough to keep me going.
So, with some self-reflecting this week I have come to the conclusion that I am motivated by races, people challenging my abilities, and knowing that I am inspiring others to set and reach new goals. But there are lots of other little things that help me stay on track. Reading motivational books and blogs helps me. I love Kristin Armstrong’s writings! Searching Pinterest for inspirational quotes sometimes gets me excited for a run. And sometimes I just need to recruit friends to run with (or to call me out for not running!).
What motivates you? Think about it. Figure it out. Then use it to your advantage. The more tools you have in your tool box, the more likely you are to succeed. Set yourself up for success!
Sparkle. Pounce. Boom.