I can’t speak to what will best inspire a person to run consistently and with effort. I can only speak to what inspires me. I don’t know how others work, but when I get into something it’s usually all or none. It’s not necessarily a deliberate and forced action, but rather the expected product of my level of excitement in anything I do…at least anything I do that I enjoy. Not much is half-assed.
Granted, there is something about running that feels extremely inherent in me, so I can get by even without a lot of acknowledged inspirations, but more so, I’ve realized that my disposition to obsession makes it so I actually find inspiration in so many places. I know people that try and find inspiration in losing weight. Others find it the social camraderie. All of these are valid reasons, but it seems to me that I can draw on so many more inspirations if I feel the need. And believe me, as much as I love to run, sometimes I need the inspiration.
I remember this specifically about this past winter, when I was having one of the most difficult times of my life. Despite coming off a great 1/2 marathon (the first I won outright) I soon came down with a debilitating stomach flu, then a cold, then another cold, then the ability to see my son became an obstacle, then I was laid off – unable to find a job for months, then my sisters cancer took a serious turn for the worst, and to top it all off a good friend died unexpectedly. I specifically remember avoiding simple 10 mile runs because I could not fathom the idea of putting the mental effort into running that long in the cold. With everything going on, I just couldn’t focus on running. I had no inspiration. Everything seemed trivial in relation to what I was dealing with. Fortunately, after some time and some healing, I started to find little things here and there – a coming race, warmer weather, new routes, etc. And although I wasn’t feeling my strongest, I was soon back at it, running consistently throughout the week and building fitness once again. I can’t imagine getting out of that period without a myriad of inspirations to draw from.
Right now I have so much inspiration that I feel like I’m going to boil over. Of course the hope to run fast at Chicago drives me incessantly, but there is so much more. There is the dedication to see how much faster I can become over time. There are the websites I look at everyday. The books I read. The music I listen to. The interviews with elite athletes I watch on the internet. The magazines I read. The friends I run with/after/ahead of. The conversations I have at work. The near celebrity status the kids at school hold me up to. The desire for a crowded trophy shelf. The legacy I want to leave for my son. The gift certificates for new shoes. The post run showers. The expectation to run for my sponsor. The desire to run as a vegan. The sound and feel of packed dirt under my feet.
There is so much I simply can’t list them all. I don’t know what gets other people out the door, but my list is exhausting to consider. I don’t know if this is part of what makes a runner competitive, or achieve at a higher level, but it certainly plays a part in my performances. I don’t know what inspires you, but whatever you do, find inspiration wherever you can.
Speaking of inspiration….the ability to eat larger amounts of chocolate cake than the normal person is quite inspiring. This here is a Vegan Mocha Strawberry Cake with Coffee Icing I made for my girlfriend’s birthday. It was quite inspiring.
12 miles. I wasn’t planning on it, but I felt so good going out today that I did a progression run, picking up the pace every once in awhile until I was about 1/2 marathon race at the end. It felt superhuman.
Breakfast – Cream of Wheat, coffee
Lunch – Veggie burger on whole wheat bread, Grilled portabella mushroom, Pasta w/ veggies, Berry medley, Lemonade
Dinner – Pasta w/ veggies
Snacks – Lemonade, Cake (see above), Leftover noodles with coconut sauce.