Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Finding Motivation Outside of the Numbers

I had a pretty impressive streak going. It began in June of 2011 and last until October of 2014.

40 months long. Three years and four months.

Oh the streak? What was it?

Only running at least 100 miles a month. With most being at a minimum of 125 miles.

But after my last marathon in October, things changed. Depending on how you look at it, the change could be viewed either good or bad. At the time, I struggled to see the good in it. Yet, having four months to process everything, the change was good.

Very good.

Following my marathon on Oct. 25, I took a couple weeks to recover. I wanted to ease back into things because the Carolina Marathon was a rough one for me. I was drained. Motivation was lacking. My joy for running had been zapped.

Like any other Idiot, I got talked into signing up for my first 50K. This had been a goal for me, and with my fitness level already at a good level thanks to the marathon, running a 50K less than 7-8 weeks away from the day I signed up did not seem like a big deal.

I signed up for the 50K on Nov. 15, and the next day I had an unwelcome guest show up. PF.

That's right. Plantar Fascitis. The dreaded PF.

One week back into regular running following my marathon as right as I began to focus on conquering a 50K, and I get hit with PF. Not the most encouraging news one would want to receive.

Fortunately, I began working Jeff, a coach at PRS Fit, at the beginning of November. I can not stress how much of a blessing it was to have a coach during this time. Left to my own devices, the road back would not have gone as smoothly or as well.

What's the point in running if you're not going to have fun.
Jeff did a fabulous job of giving me workouts to keep my fitness up, strengthen my body overall but especially my foot, calves and hamstrings. I didn't run for three weeks. Yet, I did not feel I lost a step. In fact, my running felt stronger.

Granted PF flared up from time to time following long or hard runs. But with stretching, ice and yoga, the pain was manageable.

With all this going on, I managed just over 40 miles in November and 97 in December. The Pistol Ultra 50K came and went at the building in January, but I only logged 80-plus miles that month. My foot was doing much better in February, but weather and work really put a damper on running, leaving me with only 84 miles for the month.

But finally, the month of March allowed me to focus more on running and I was able to log 128.7 miles.

As happy as I am I got back over the century mark, that isn't what I am happiest about. In fact, it's not even close.

Through this process, I rejuvenated my love for running.

Toward the end of my marathon training last fall and even during that particular marathon, I was struggling to enjoy running. It had become a chore. I had become too focused on the numbers and not appreciating running.

Having to take a break from running and then slowly easing back into it made me realize how lucky I am that I get to run. I have been given the ability to run, but in the pursuit of numbers, I had lost sight of that.

No longer am I overly concerned about monthly and yearly mileage totals. Yes, I'm still going to keep track of them. (I'm a numbers guy. I can't totally abandon them.) But I'm not going to be obsessing over them.

In the past, I used to set yearly total goals, and I would drive myself crazy toward the end of the year trying to figure how I could make sure I would hit that number.

People use monthly and yearly mileage totals as goals and motivators to get and keep them running. I most certainly did. However, somewhere along the way, it became too much. At times, it seemed I only ran to meet my 'quota,' if you will.

So, where do I find motivation now, you ask?

In various things, but mostly I find motivation in preparing for races. The past couple months have been fun for me because I helped trained a friend to run her first half marathon. Nothing will help reignite your passion for running like helping someone - especially a newbie, reach one of their goals.

Right now, my motivation is PR'ing my next race. I've got a half marathon coming up on April 25, and everything is falling into place at the right time to give me the hopes a PR. Don't want to jinx myself, but I'm feeling pretty good about this.

Beyond that, I'm looking forward to a fall marathon. Still haven't settle on which one I'm going to run, but it's either going to be one I've never done or one I'd like to crush my course PR on. Either way, there's pretty of motivation to be found.

In addition, the fall marathon will be a tuneup for me as I prepare for my second ultra. I'm going back to the Pistol Ultra at the first of the year, and I'm looking to up my game. Shooting for a new distance excites me.

The combination of all this has made running fun for me again. I love seeing what I'm able to do. The only limitations I see are the ones I put there, and I'm trying to remove those as I go along.

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