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Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

I could blame it on my focus on getting my personal training and boot camp business up and running.

I could blame it on my studies for a nutrition certification.

I could blame it on the weird pain I’ve been suffering through in my left foot.

I’m sure if I really thought about it, I could find a lot of reasons.

But if I’m going to be honest with myself (and with you), I have to simply admit, I haven’t been motivated.

I have a half-marathon next weekend, a full marathon and a 100-miler in October.

Bay State (the marathon) was supposed to be my attempt to return to Boston.  Ghost Train (the 100-miler) was supposed to be my attempt to go sub-24 hours.

After watching my social media feed back in April, as many of you ran a glorious Boston Marathon, I got excited.  I got psyched.  I was pumped at the prospect of running a competitive (for me) marathon and getting myself back to the starting line in Hopkinton.  With the added 10 minutes allotted to me because of my impending age bracket change, I knew I had it in the bag.

I bought new shoes (Go Mebs).

I announced my plans.

I pulled out my calendar and worked my way back from October to determine my base building runs and then my Bay State specific runs.

I planned it out.

My early morning runs.

My late night runs.

I was going back to Boston…

.

.

.

…and then I wasn’t.

My calendar began to fill.  Early morning runs became a problem.  With 6AM clients, 4 to 5 days a week, I was already getting up at 4:30AM to prepare.  Late night runs became a problem for the same reason.  You can’t give your clients your best on only 4 hours of sleep.  I was studying at night.  My feet were (are) suffering from an undetermined ailment.  The list could go on and on.

Honestly though, those are just excuses.  The fact is, as excited as I initially was to run both Bay State and Ghost Train, that motivation abandoned me at the first hurdle I faced.  Perhaps I really didn’t want to run, I merely wished I could.  We make priorities in life in part because there are only 24 hours in a day.  We make choices.  Maybe it a day was 30 hours, I would have found the time…maybe…probably, the results would have been the same.

At this point, if it isn’t obvious, I will not be running Bay State in an attempt to qualify for Boston.  I may still run it, depending on my feet, but it will be simply to enjoy a long run through the town of Lowell, MA.  Ghost Train is out of the question.  Attempting to run 100 miles on zero training would be foolish.  As for Boston 13.1, which happens next weekend, I am not sure.  Like Bay State, we’ll see how the feet hold up over the next week.

 

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Time & Money

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There are a lot of empty excuses out there for not taking care of yourself.

I’m not good at taking responsibility…

I don’t know what’s in the food I eat…

I don’t like the taste of water…

Then there’s the excuse about Time and Money.

It takes too much time…

It costs too much…

A lot of people will frown upon those last two excuses.  I used to be one of those people.  My response was, “you can make the time” and “can you put a price on your health and well-being?”  I was taken aback when several people, including my father, pointed out that saying things like “make the time” and “it’s cheaper than being unhealthy” were narrow-minded, insensitive and, to put it not so nicely, ignorant.

No matter how the economy is doing, there are people who struggle simply to put food on the dinner table and clothes on the backs of their families; this while working 12, 14, 16 hour days.

Yes, your health is important.  True, if being fit is an overwhelming priority, you will make time for it.  No doubt that being healthy is less expensive over the long haul than being sick – but here’s the question, at what cost?  I love how many of the “experts” out there will whip people they see on the street over and over again about their unhealthy life-style, how they’re killing themselves and their kids, how cancer is a choice and blah, blah, blah, and as it ultimately turns out, they, the “experts”, have never had to take care of anyone other than themselves – they have no family; they have no real responsibility other than to themselves and their business.

Yes, family health matters, but you want to know what matters more?  Children spending quality time with mom and dad; children going to bed with a belly full of food; children having clothes and shoes that fit to wear to school; children having an environment where they feel safe – these things take both Time AND Money.

So though I agree that people will often use Time and Money as empty excuses to avoid the perceived hard work of becoming fit and healthy, I believe we in the health & fitness profession need to think a little more sensitively about those who are struggling simply to get by – offer real solutions (like family walks) as opposed to generalized judgements (like “if you care, you will make the time and spend more wisely.”).

Not everyone is as fortunate or as well off as many seem to assume they are.

My one piece of advice to those struggling to feel better overall?  Start small – whether that’s a promise to yourself to drink more water or take the stairs instead of the elevator (don’t start with 20 flights!!!) or eat out one meal less per week or play tag with your kids…whatever it is, start small.  Give yourself a true opportunity to succeed and then, after a few weeks of that, fold something else in and then another and then another and then another…before you know it, a year or two will have gone by and you won’t recognize yourself or your family from a year before.

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boise-meridian-idaho-cold-weather-car-start

From October 7th to December 31st of last year I ran a total of seven times.  Granted, some of those runs were 20+ mile runs, but that’s seven runs in eighty-six days.  That’s just over one run every two weeks.

Not a lot of running.

***

A day or two before New Year’s my buddy Doug posted a link on Facebook to a Crow Athletics Streak Challenge – run or walk at least one mile every day for one hundred days.  I have never been a fan of streaking, that is, the concept of running as many consecutive days as possible.  I’m a firm believer in the necessity of rest and I have a hard time believing that one can run and rest simultaneously.

But this piqued my interest – not because of its uniqueness, people streak all the time, but simply because of the personal nature of its timing.  I struggled off and on with motivation for almost all of 2012.  Even while I was training for Sugarloaf last winter, it was still a fight to get myself out the door.  I yearned for that time, not so long ago considering I’ve only been running for four years, when my legs were out the door before I was even aware of it.  2010 was a banner year for me.  I ran four marathons over the course of eight months; I pushed myself harder with each race, training with an eagerness that was fueled by hunger.

After qualifying for and then running Boston 2011, that drive slowly began to shrink.  I continued to enter races – Around the Lake (July 2011), the Vermont 50 (September 2011), NYCM (November 2011), but the training, the motivation continued to dwindle.  After being left out of Boston 2012 by a mere 30 seconds, I rallied briefly last Winter in an attempt to qualify for Boston 2013, but despite my decent training cycle, my lack of miles over the previous 12 months caught up with me.  At mile 20 of Sugarloaf 2012, on pace for around a 3:13 finish, the wheels came off the bus and I finished with a respectable, but non-BQ time of 3:23.

Despite the fact that 3:23 was my second best marathon time ever, my mojo was officially DOA.  I found other ways to encourage others to run.  I recruited and ran runners in at the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon in September (running a total of twenty some odd miles…barefoot), I pulled off what would have been a fun, silly stunt for New York 2012 by getting Katy Perry to donate 25 blue wigs to Team Up with Autism Speaks runners, but even in doing so, I hardly ran.  Yes, I ran some in October to help #teamLuau beat #teamBecca on the Gorilla Suit throwdown, but I was also helped tremendously by other runners and biker donating their miles.  I was still having fun running, but I just wasn’t doing a lot of it.

***

But then I saw Doug’s post.

Run at least one mile (or more) for one hundred days.

***

God, I hate streaking.

***

Hmmm.

I ran six miles on the first of the year.  It was like starting a cold engine.  I had run once in December (on my birthday) – 4.3 miles to celebrate turning 43.  Before that I had run 30 days earlier on Thanksgiving – 3.1 miles in a personal Turkey Trot.

My legs were not ready for my New Year’s run.

But I did it.

The following day I put in 6 more.

***

I am NOT streaking!!!

***

On the 3rd, I put in a quick 4-spot, feeling good about my 7:30 pace.  During my run I began to think about a promise Doug and I made a while back – to attempt a sub-10 hour Vermont 50 this year.  I ran an 11:04 on essentially no training in 2011. Sub-10 was going to take some work.  As I hit the 2-mile mark in my run and turned for home, I realized that that work started with building a base.  Before I really started to train this summer, I would have to put some miles behind me.  It didn’t matter how long my runs were this winter, I was just going to have to run…a lot!

***

The following day I went out for 4 miles and came home having run 6.  My legs were tired from 4 consecutive days of running, but just like starting your car on a cold winter day, my engine, my drive, was warming up.

***

I wanna run tomorrow!  But am I streaking?  I don’t know!

***

I put in a short 3-miler because of time constraints, but the point was I ran.  Then yesterday, before going on an all-day road trip, I got up early to put in a few miles.  I was planning on 4 or 5 miles and came home having run 7.  I will be squeezing in a short run at lunch today.

Am I streaking?  I really don’t know.  But the turning of the calendar and the concept of this challenge, if nothing else, has at least turned the engine over.  I still believe in rest days, but I also, as a trainer-in-training, believe that we have to do what we can to find our motivation.  Sometimes that motivation is a size 6 dress (well, not for me); sometimes that motivation is an old pair of jeans; sometimes that motivation is a number on the scale; sometimes that motivation is being able to play with your children…sometimes, that motivation is something as silly as a streak.

What are YOU using as motivation this January to get your body moving?

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Totem

I got lucky in March of 2010.

I was fortunate enough to land an Invitational Entry into the Boston Marathon.  A teacher at my daughter’s school had a brother who was in charge of the chip timers that year and he was given several entries to do with what he wanted.  He originally gave one to one of his employees, but she ended up injuring herself.  He gave it to his sister who had heard I was on a quest to get to Boston.  After initially hesitating because I wanted to get there by qualifying, I came to my senses and happily took the gift from the running gods.  How cool would it be to BQ at Boston?

I missed running a BQ in that race but had an incredible time nonetheless.

After the race, the wife handed me half of a magnetic oval with a “B” on it.

“Now that you’ve completed the Boston marathon, you get this,” she said, “when you qualify for Boston, you’ll get to put this on the car.” She handed me the other half of the oval, which had a “Q” on it.

That “Q” lived on my treadmill for the next six months as I trained for the Smuttynose Marathon.  It came to symbolize my motivation, a totem if you will of my desire to qualify for the grand daddy of all marathons.  Every time I felt myself drag or drift, I would look at that “Q” and I would find a renewed source of energy.  For most of us, achievement only comes through hard work and my qualifying for Boston was no different.  We find motivation where we can, but in this Age of Veruca “I Want It Now” Salt, it’s easy to get side-tracked, distracted or even discouraged from our goals.

I have found that creating a physical home for my motivation helps tremendously.

So, how does that help you?

Well, let’s first ask what it is you are trying to accomplish?  If it’s qualify for Boston, I highly recommend the homemade BQ oval or an oval with 26.2 on one side and a BQ on the other.

But what if it’s simply to cover 26.2 miles?  Have you run a half marathon yet?  Then go grab one of those 26.2 ovals, cut it in half, stick half on your vehicle and put the other half on your fridge.  Not a runner?  More interested in losing a few pounds or maybe just redistributing your weight?  Find an old outfit (a pair of jeans, a bikini, a fitted shirt) that you used to wear and instead of hiding it away in shame, put it in a place where you will see it every morning as you get dressed and every night as you get ready for bed.  If you don’t have that outfit anymore, find a picture of something you want to wear in three months and pin it to your dresser, your refrigerator, your desk, your dashboard – make it the screensaver on your phone as a reminder to make smart choices.  If your goal is more abstract that fitting into an outfit, maybe something like finding inner peace, then find a physical manifestation of that inner peace and carry it with you.

The point is to have a touchstone or totem, something physical to bring you back from the edge when you are slipping and back to YOUR reality, back to the reality that you envision for yourself.

Will the totem guarantee success? No.  There are no true 100% guarantees other than taxes and death – but having a physical source for motivation will carry you through many of the times you find yourself struggling.

Do you already have a totem that you use?  I would love to hear what different people use to keep themselves motivated.

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If you can close your eyes and see the person you want to be, you can be it.

That was one of my posts the other day on Twitter and Facebook.  It came to me after watching two inspirational videos about two gentlemen who transformed themselves over the course of a year.  I hash-tagged my posts with #starttoday, hoping that somewhere, somehow, someone would be inspired to #starttoday and begin their personal transformation.  At first, my thinking was “if you want to lose weight, go out and run!” but as I sat thinking about the videos with the song “Fix You” running through my head (the soundtrack to both videos), I realized that these videos represented so much more and that the concept of #starttoday was about more than just throwing on some running shoes and going.

#starttoday is about doing something, anything to start yourself on the path of transformation – for some that mean dropping some pounds and gaining cardiovascular health.  Yes, #starttoday can mean throwing on your dusty running shoes and putting in a few miles but, it can also mean getting off of the couch, heading to the kitchen and today, just TODAY choosing to grab an apple instead of a bag of Doritos.  #starttoday can mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.  #starttoday can mean taking the dog around the block instead of to just the corner.  #starttoday can simply mean purposely changing your mindset – that this week, this day, this hour, this minute I will choose to live well; I will choose activity over inactivity; I will choose to eat healthful foods instead of junk; I will embrace the light that is life instead of the darkness.

Our bodies were designed, whether by God or by Nature, to move.  Today’s society inadvertently conspires to keep us still, idle – whether it be the TV, the computer, or the smartphone, when we are engaged with these devices we tend to stop moving.

Technology is not a bad thing.  It is a wonderful, beautiful thing that has helped bring the world together and can be used to make life easier.  We should not however mistake ease of life with complacency.  Contentment has its place, it is what we all strive for, but it cannot (and ultimately does not) come at the cost of our health.

In 2010 66% of the population of the United States was overweight, half of which was obese and we spent 2.6 trillion dollars on health care related issues.

That’s $2,600,000,000,000.00.

THAT is a lot of zeroes.  That’s close to $1,000 per person.  Would you rather be spending $1,000 on health care issue that were preventable or on items your family could use or want?  $1,000 per person pumped back into the economy could go a long way toward bringing America’s health back to where it once was – but that recovery starts with you, and your friends, and your neighbors.  I know that it’s not that simple.  Getting healthy is not that simple.  The numbers ($2.6 trillion, ~$1,000 per person) are not that simple. But we must start somewhere; we must start some time.

What better time to start than now?

Make a promise and #starttoday.

And then when you wake up tomorrow morning, do it again.

You can do it.

I dare anybody who loves running NOT to cry at 3:50 of this video.

***

Don’t wait.  Take a walk…play with your kids…jump…run…dance…make love…swim…bike…have a water balloon fight…

…and if you still don’t know how to start, just ask.

#starttoday

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On Saturday afternoon, after getting the refrigerator working again and half fixing a half-broken washing machine, I finally got out for a run. The temperatures were in the low 40’s but the 20 to 40 mph winds were making it feel much, much colder. Over the course of 8 miles I felt like I was running into the wind almost the whole time, which was quite a feat considering I was running an out & back route.

My plan was that I really didn’t have one. A few weeks ago I decided that I was simply going to run miles when I could before beginning a 12-week program for Sugarloaf.  This past Monday was the beginning of that program.

As I started my run, I thought of Sugarloaf and what it would take to re-qualify for Boston.

A sub-3:15 marathon – sub-7:25 per mile pace…for 26.2 miles. I haven’t run that pace consistently in so long…how the hell am I going to do this…

As I ran past 1 mile, I looked down at my watch – hmmm…7:34 – that’s not so bad – I kept moving at a pace that felt comfortable, focusing on my form, not really paying attention to pace.  I looked at my watch as I passed mile 2 – 7:30.

I decided to have some fun and push the pace a little, just to see what I had in my legs.

Miles 3 and 4 went by in a snappy 7:18 and 7:29.  Somewhere before reaching the turn around I started to tire.  As good as it felt to be running sub-7:30’s, I didn’t feel particularly strong.  I thought about the fact that at Sugarloaf, I would have to run faster than this for over 6 times the distance.

I began to reevaluate the very idea of attempting a BQ and a 5-minute PR in May.  Was I crazy?  Was I fooling myself?  At this point I just wanted to jog it back home at a slow pace and mope.

For no apparent reason I decided to push the pace for 2 more miles.  I wasn’t sure what I had in me, but I figured let’s just run this one out.

I looked at my watch at mile 5 – 7:16.  My fastest mile of the day.  Mile 6 came even faster at 7:06.  At this point however, I felt spent.  I was happy I was able to close strong, but a bit disheartened that I felt so tired.

2 miles from home, it was time to jog it in.  I covered the next 1/2 mile at 8:30 pace – a comfortable pace for me.  I started to relax and felt my breath coming back to me.

My mind drifted.  I let my body just roll along.  My watch beeped at the next 1/2 mile interval – 3:37.

3:37?  That’s 7:14 pace!

I went with it – trying not to exert too much, just letting gravity and momentum do their job – next 1/2 mile? 3:32 (7:04 pace).

As I made the final turns for home I felt a burst of energy run through me and decided I needed to finish this run strong (despite the fact that the last 1/2 mile is uphill).

I covered the last 1/2 mile at 6:58 pace and felt great – spent, but great.

Suddenly Sugarloaf didn’t feel so daunting anymore.  Suddenly I remembered that I just might have it in me to hit my BQ, despite the fact that I will need a nearly 5-minute PR.  Suddenly, the spark was back.

Now all I needed was a plan…

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4:10 AM – the alarm on my phone goes off – a mix of a loud snoring sound and the phone vibrating on my nightstand.

4:10 AM.

Ugh.

Am I really gonna do this?  Do I really WANT to do this?

10 miles?  Really?  It’s 30° outside.

It’s cold.

It’s dark.

I could just hit the snooze…or better yet, just go back to sleep until 6:45.

Sleep is good right?  We all need sleep, don’t we?  Maybe I’ll just close my eyes…

***

I’d rather be sleeping….but then who’s gonna run these miles?
– My post on Facebook at 4:12AM

***

As I covered my 10 miles during the predawn hours this morning, I realized just how good I felt being out there on the road.

Yes, it was early.
Yes, it was dark.
Yes, it was cold.

But I felt great.  Despite my apathy at 4:10AM when the alarm went off, throughout my run I. Felt. Great!

I talk a lot on this blog about inertia.  It is one of the strongest fundamental principles of physics – a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  I believe it also is a fundamental principle of the human condition.  One of the most difficult things for us as humans to do is to change our inertia – couch potatoes rarely get off of the couch.  Compulsive exercisers rarely stop – for fear that they might not get going again.

The key, for those of us in the middle, is to understand that inertia is real and that to go from rest to motion, we must go through what I like to call the “Toughest Ten Minutes of the Day”.  It’s those ten minutes of putting on the shorts and shoes, walking out the door and moving that in all likelihood is the hardest part of your workout…unless maybe you’re doing hill sprints, but that’s a different kind of tough.  No matter what your workout is going to be, no matter how physically demanding, the key is overcoming the mental hurdle – the anticipation of the pain or burn, the expectation of the cold air, the knowledge that this could take a couple of hours, the call of your pillow, comforter or couch.

That ten minutes before your run can be the most difficult part of your workout.  Unlike a job you may not like, you are not getting paid to run.  Unlike a class you are dreading, you are not paying to attend.  In both cases you have the extra motivation of dollars to show up.  Unless you are Ryan Hall, Kara Goucher or the like, you are not getting paid to run.  The motivation has to come from within. You have to fight that feeling that maybe I’ll just sit here instead for this workout.

I promise you, if you can overcome those toughest ten minutes of the day, whether in the predawn hours, midday or late at night, the payoff is well worth it.

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