People ask me what my motivation is to run ultra marathons. Often it’s hard to articulate. I’ve spent years thinking about it.
Why do I do this?
Why do I want to put myself through so much voluntary suffering?
Yet, every time I take a break from running I miss it. Anxiety comes over me like I am missing a piece of myself.
Has running become a part of my identity? Generally, I don’t like to think any “thing” I do as a part of my identity. What if a day comes when I can’t run anymore? What if a day comes when I can’t write anymore? What would I do then? How would I handle losing a piece of myself?
What you do isn’t who you are. Who you are is how you interact with others.
“Happiness is only real when shared.” - Chris McCandless
There is a selfish aspect to the reason why I run. I do it as a channel to improve myself. There is this mental frequency that seems impossible to tap into any other way.
Train For The Other People In Your Life
Whether it’s running, weight lifting or any other form of physical fitness find a reason to do it for the other people in your life.
Maybe you’re 22 years old and are doing it so you can be there for your unborn child when they are an adult.
Maybe you’re 52 years old and doing it to set an example for all the people in your life that it’s not too late to get fit.
Not only will it make you feel better about yourself but it will make the people around you better as well. If there are any people in your life that try to drag you down, then it’s a sign you should cut them out. If you can’t cut them out if they are family, then put your foot on the gas even harder.
Lead by example, not by your words.
“There are a lot of people with a crap ton of knowledge gained from books but don’t even know will work when needed in the real world. The idea of getting knowledge is to put it into practice. Be a practitioner not a theorist!” - David Goggins
Train With Your Future Self In Mind
At one of my previous jobs, we used to have a giant 14” wide bowl that could hold 100 pieces of candy for anyone to grab. We had about 20 people coming into our office on a daily basis. Every other day I would walk by the bowl it would be empty, then filled, then empty, then filled.
I was astounded. As someone who hasn’t eaten candy since I was 12 years old, I couldn’t believe how many grown adults couldn’t resist the bowl.
The same people in the office that were eating 10-15 pieces of candy every day would complain how they’re struggling to lose weight or even worse, and blamed it on their genetics.
I don’t know what their mindset is when they’re reaching for the candy bowl but I suspect it’s a mindset that this tiny piece doesn’t count. It’s a mulligan.
There are no mulligans in life. Every action has a reaction.
It’s easy to think a small piece of candy isn’t going to have consequences. A tootsie roll only has about 26 calories in it. If you’re eating four of those a day, 4 x 26 = 104. 104 x 5 days (workdays) = 520. 520 x 50 weeks (assume 2 weeks for vacation) = 26,000 calories.
26,000 calories over the course of the year that they didn’t need. That’s about 7.5 lbs of calories. Little actions do have their consequences.
Even the smallest workout can keep up momentum and make a difference.
Even running that extra mile can add up to greater things.
Writing an extra 200 words over a year can lead to almost a books worth of content.
Train To Inspire
Do you view yourself as someone who can be inspirational? If you don’t, this may be even more powerful. Imagine if you someone who is viewed by others as a normal person who decided to not be normal anymore?
What if you went from struggling to make it through a 5K to running a marathon?
What if you went from someone who was viewed as a loser to someone who redeemed themselves?
What if you could do that? It’s not going to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. Every day will be a challenge. Some days will be worse than others but when you make it through the other side, you will find a meaning that you never thought you could find.