Saturday, October 8, 2011

Is My Mojo leaking?

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I usually do all my running early in the morning. Like before work. Like before the sun comes up. Like before whatever the Army "does before 9AM what most of us do all day" does. My radio alarm is set for 4:30, so I usually hop out of bed, shut it off, and grab the running clothes I had put out the night before. Get dressed, brush my teeth, shave, and just like that, I hit the road. Well, one morning this week, I woke up before the alarm at 4:25, so I decided to get up, sit on the side of the bed in the dark for the five minutes waiting for the radio to go off. And just like that, I succumbed. The alarm went on. I turned off the alarm. And I climbed back into bed.

#1) What the heck happened?, and #2) do you know how terribly guilty and worthless I felt the rest of the day? I mean, skip an evening run and you only have a couple of hours to mope around. But, I had ALL DAY!

Motivation. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. Over the long running haul, it’s the reason we keep going, through thick and thin, fatigue and frustration. I don't exactly know why, but I'm usually motivated to get up and going. Oh, I don't mean that crazy "oh boy, I'm so glad I woke up so I can go for a run" feeling, but the "this is me and it's time to get me going for today" feeling. Motivation comes to us in different forms and from different places. It is intellectual and emotional. It is in our head and in our hearts. Without it, we would never be able to meet our daily runs with any consistency so important to any endurance-based lifestyle. With it we are colorful players on the field, ready to take on the greatest opponents our minds and bodies can throw at us and that's what progresses us through the many stages of running.

But where does it come from? Motivation. Are we born with an innate supply of it and some of us just learn to channel it through different pathways? Do we learn to "become" motivated through life's experience? Some are motivated athletically, some are motivated educationally, and others find their own spark. This may well be forever unknown. What is known, however, is that motivation comes in different forms. Intellectual motivation, for example, is different than emotional motivation.

Like everything linked to the mind, intellectual motivation comes to us through rational thought. The desire to win trophies, gain kudos from friends and peers, run longer miles, or just simply to be "known" as an athlete. These are all intellectual "motives" to which we often succumb. They are motives of the ego. But are these motives long lasting? Will they get you though the most grueling and challenging times? For a time for sure...sometimes for decades apparently. But lately it has me wondering. Oh, not just because I succummed to a single run sitting on the side of the bed. But as my progression as a runner wains, these intellectual motivations have got to be losing their edge to get my engine started every early morning to run. It's just like sugar, it'll get you high one moment, and leave you low the next.

Emotional motivation is different. It runs through your body. It comes from your gut, enters the spine, then without warning seeps through your skin. Before you recognize it, it will give you goose bumps. Wherever it starts and ends, you can feel it. And what's best, it doesn't even have to make sense! THIS is what I never want to lose and what had me bummed out about this one particular morning.

Over the past few years, due to a mechanical glitch that I can't seem to shake, my marathon and ultra running have taken a huge hit. I can't plan races. I can't glide through long distances in training. The running "me" has to be somebody I don't necessarily want to be, but am stuck with it. But, I love to run and just because I can't be that old AL, I don't want to lose that motivation to get out there day after day, even if it's slow, even if it's short. Running becomes a habit, but lose the spark too often, and THAT becomes a habit. OK, it wasn't the first morning I bailed on a run, and for sure won't be the last, but this one just seemed too easy and this one had me wondering if I had a leak in my mojo.

As I write this, I'm in Boston, visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and TWO grandchildren. Adam was two years old this week, and Emma was 5 weeks old yesterday, and I am really into this Grandpa thing...yep,it's motivation to keep moving. And this morning, I stepped out the door and went for an 11 mile run on the Boston Marathon course, and that's a big personal motivation boost because every time I've been on this course (both racing and just running), I feel the enrgy from it. I'll never be able to do the BM again, but don't tell me I can't hear the crowds when I'm running down the empty streets. That's when I say "I love to run". Yep, motivation is inside me, but sometimes I guess I just need a recharge and the aftermath of this time sitting on the side of the bed was just the dolt-slap on the back of the head that I needed. Time to plug that leak

That's all this week. Time to go rock Emma or run after Adam. Haven't figured out how to do both at the same time, but I'm working on it. I'll be back in Birmingham next week, so let's all go for a run and I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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