My most recent running interval session was hard 800m repeats with very little rest. Often during such tough workouts, I say to myself at least once, why am I still putting myself through training that hurts so much?! Then I remind myself to refocus and just get through it one interval at a time. I also think about how satisfying the nice leisurely paced cool down jog will be if I hit all my pace times or even better! When I have temporary moments of self-doubt about why I continue to train and race or on the days when others make me feel like an oddball and say, ‘when are you going to slow down?!’, I remind myself of all the reasons that keep me pushing the pace….
1. Life is too short! When I was twenty it felt like I had an eternity of years ahead of me to train and compete. As the years roll by faster and faster, especially since my children have come along, I take being healthy, injury-free and simply having the time and support to get out and train and enter races less and less for granted. I do it because I can! And I will continue to keep fitness a priority at some level as long as my body allows me too!
2. I really do love it (most of the time!) After 25 years of year round training and competing I can admit how much I truly enjoy the athletic lifestyle! With the odd time off from injury and breaks from hard training during pregnancy, I’ve realized that I do enjoy pushing hard and testing myself in competitive races! For me personally, just going easy all the time can’t compete with the endorphin-high following a hard training session or race! Also, nothing compares to those moments of total absorption I experience while riding sweet single track on a mountain bike, during a run that feels effortless, or a swim where I feel like everything clicks!
3. I like doing something that scares me at least once per week! Training and regularly pushing my mental and physical limits is thrilling and makes me feel more alive! Coach Cal regularly throws workouts at me that make me wonder how I’m going to get through them. I may fear the intensity level or the length of the workout, but once I break it down and get through them it feels amazing and they are always money in the confidence bank! The same goes for things like riding a scary technical trail on my mountain bike, open water swimming in new conditions, entering a new race, conquering a new race distance, or getting in shape again after a baby. Every new barrier that is pushed is a motivational growth-spurt! So just go for it, what is the worst that can happen?!
4. The social bonds of sweating together! Some of my best friendships have developed through running, cycling, and now “triathloning” together with others. There is something about running, cycling, skiing, or racing along side others that forges bonds of friendship quickly! As a busy mom, it also kills two birds with one stone – socializing and working out at the same time! While at least half of my training is done solo if I didn’t have at least a few social training sessions per week my motivation would drop pretty quickly!
5. The satisfaction of setting and meeting goals! Improving is always fun! Even though my speed and endurance will eventually diminish over time, I still get excited by working on improving my swim technique, technical skills on my bike, flexibility for running, and ways to train, eat, and recover better. I’m lucky to have a coach that is creative and keeps training fun with lots of variety and new ideas. For those of us that compete, time spent racing is only a small percentage of our time spent in any given sport. Enjoying the daily training performance victories are just as important as meeting race day goals for long term motivation!
6. Role modeling an active lifestyle to my kids. Being a role model is a bonus motivation for me to stay active. My husband and I want to be able to be active alongside our kids in whatever activities they enjoy growing up. I also admire my parents physical fitness levels now in their mid-sixties, an age where taking care of yourself over time really starts to pay big dividends! I love the fact that I can still go for a mountain bike ride with my dad now, and he really doesn’t slow me down much at all! All my favorite coaches have been people who compete themselves, have trained with their athletes and so have motivated me through their role modeling.