Motivation is a word that gets thrown around quite a bit? I am motivated to run. I am not motivated to run. Where did my motivation go? I am a very self-motivated person and a lot of that comes from my competitiveness. I am always trying to improve my standing against myself. Last month I had 5 sales this month I want 6. It is almost never-ending regardless of what I am talking about. I know it drives my wife crazy and it is also how I can relate to a guy like Roger Clemens (competitor not drug user) when reports are that he brushed his wife back in a wiffle ball game. I get it….I may not do it but I get it.
Right now I am in the midst of peak training for Ironman Arizona and getting up in the morning is getting harder and harder. The workouts are getting harder and they are getting longer. The mental push to sustain this lifestyle through peak training can be hard. Who am I kidding? It is downright crazy someday. There are days when that alarm goes off and all I want to do is say F U World I am laying here, but then one of two things happens. Karen finally gets angry that I have hit the snooze button for the 10th time and tells me to get up or I turned the alarm off and she pushes me out of the bed and tells me to get going.
At that point I am walking around the bedroom and the bathroom like a drunk on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. I have no clue what time it is or where I am at but I know some form of exercise is coming. As I get on the trainer for the 3rd time this week (this is true) or I pack my swim bag for 4000+ yards of swimming I start talking to myself about what I am going to do. For example, today’s workout was 1:30 on the trainer with 8x5min at Anaerobic Threshold with 1 min Recovery followed by 30 minutes of running at a steady anaerobic threshold. HOLY SHIT! Uhh…..Coach I’d like to make it to Arizona ALIVE!
Once I got on the bike I started pedaling and my legs felt alright but I was just warming up and after 20 minutes I would start my sets. I got engrossed in a terrible movie and when the sets started I hardly noticed the pain in my legs, that is until the last 3 sets. It was at that point that I could have punched babies and started thinking about the run. 30 minutes anaerobic threshold just means run really fast for as long as you can, but wait it says steady. Ok, so pull back a bit so that you stay steady but wait that wouldn’t be AT. My motivation for this run was starting to slip.
At first I wanted to tie my record for running 4 miles off the bike in 30 minutes that I had set over two years ago and had not matched until yesterday when I ran 4.14 miles off the bike (yesterday’s set was a steady 1 hour at Half-Ironman pace or 20+ mph). I had my motivation for this run but then my legs started to really hurt. Combination of a year-long of Ironman training, 5am start and just the volume from last week (23 hours of training.) I was done and if I ran a 9 minute per mile pace I would know that it would hurt and that it would be pushing it at that point.
Thing is I had sent a text to my coach a few weeks ago when she asked me how I was feeling. I told her that I felt good (not great) and that I came to a realization. It was going to hurt no matter what pace I went at and this was for swim, bike or run. So why not just do it as fast as you can and the pain would go away faster. Logical wouldn’t you say?
So when I started running I decided I was going to run not only hard but run a harder course than I ran yesterday. I was going to prove I had a lot left in my tank to not only do the interval set, but also capture the 4 mile flag. I was determined and I was going to do it. All the sudden, Mr Motivation was back and all it took was a memory. A memory lit my competitive fire inside me and off I went. I hit that first mile at 7:26 and I thought that this was going to be a close call since I know that 7:30/mile would equal 4 miles in 30 minutes. Second mile was 7:27 and I actually felt good even though I was breathing so heavy. I was pumping my arms and legs going up every hill I could find. This was not going to be a 4 mile run around a track. My thought at this point was that if the training was extremely hard than the race would be cake.
When I saw the 30:00 on the Garmin and I hit stop I could not remember if I had heard 4 beeps from the tell all machine. I looked down and the number was 3.93 miles. I fell just shy of hitting that 4 mile mark on a much harder course. I was not happy and when I went into the garage to gather all my gear from the trainer ride I had the following thought:
Dad – I am sorry that I could not get to 4 miles today but rest assured that on November 18 I will run as hard as I possibly can to make you proud.
The motivation to get up every morning stopped being about me. It stopped being about getting to 4 miles in 30 minutes. It stopped about being a 2x Ironman in the same year. It was now bigger than anything I could imagine. I have about 30 days until the cannon goes off in Tempe, Arizona and I now know what will not just get me to the starting line but to the finish line.
The motivation will change between today and that day but in the end when I reflect on Ironman Arizona I will know what the underlying motivation truly was.
I also want to say Thank You to my wife, Karen, for putting up with peak training AGAIN. I know it is not easy on you or the family but I want you to know I appreciate your ability to allow me to get out every morning to do what I do. Without you this doesn’t happen (and some mornings that is a literal statement.)