True motivation comes from within.
I've often considered myself to be a person that looks externally for motivation, affirmation and validation. I was a very good student throughout my entire educational experience and my usual answer to the question "why do you work so hard?" was that I wanted to make my parents happy & proud. I am also an improvisor now, which means I am constantly reacting to outside stimuli: my scene partner(s), the audience, etc.
The more experiences I have, though, the more important I realize it is for me to internalize and look within for my reasons to do what I do, no matter how big or small. This blog is an example of that. I've only told about a handful of people that I am doing my 30 posts in 30 day challenge this year, because the real challenge is for myself, not because I am looking to get a lot of readers. Losing weight these past two years is another example. This was the first time I didn't have some deep lingering doubt that I would fail. I just looked at it as something I needed to do, and realized that I was the one and only person responsible for my success.
And now....running. Running is something I never thought I would do or enjoy. After I graduated from high school and no longer had to take part in the presidential fitness test (even the memory of those days makes me shudder), I thought for sure I would never run again. And yet after I started going to the gym and had been for a few months, I first dared to step on to a treadmill and try to run.
It was pretty terrible. I had no sense of pace and could barely breath and just felt awful about the whole thing. And for reasons I can't explain, I kept at it. I just knew that I wanted to get better at it. The same mix of frustration and motivation and desire to improve that was there when I started playing guitar or started TaeKwon-Do (both things I struggled with at the start) was coming from within while I was on that treadmill. I never thought I would feel that way about running. There was no coach with a timer and clipboard telling me I needed to do this for class, no one watching or judging or making me do it. I just wanted to do it. For me.
I improved a bit. It was slow going. I noticed I didn't have to walk as long in between my run breaks before I noticed any improvement in my running. I don't know if everyone else feels the same way, but I tend to feel awful while I am running. Even now. I feel achey and out of breath. But more and more I feel amazing when I am done. My body feels strong and powerful and I have a lot of energy when I start my morning with a run. Maybe as some point I will actually enjoy the running part of running (I can report in after I finish my 40 miles this month), but not yet.
As I've said, I work better with deadlines. I said in the spring that I wanted to do a 5K in the fall. And after making half-assed plans quite a few times, my friend Julia (who is amazing at so many things, including having run the Hartford Marathon last month) and I finally picked a 5K and went today. The Freedom Run.
Last Saturday I realized it was going to be cold and that I had never run outside before (at least not since high school). So I went to EMS and after wandering lost and confused about the store, a kindly saleswomen pointed me in the direction of some warm, breathable, wicking clothes. Having no experience and no opinion, I just bought what she suggested. On Sunday, after sky diving, I put on my gear (the pants are the most comfortable pants IN THE WORLD) and headed to my old high school track to attempt running outside before my 5K.
I figured since I had already gone sky diving that morning, it was already a pretty successful day so I didn't need to run that much. I would just do a mile to make sure I could breath in the cold and that my clothes were comfy enough to run in, and then I would head home. I ended up doing 3.5 miles. Again, I don't know where it came from. No one was there to watch or to judge me, but something inside made me want to finish that first mile...and then run even more.
|Before our 5K|
I sent ridiculous emails with all the questions I was worrying about to Julia. When should we get there? When should we register? What should I eat the day of? How much music should I prepare? As my usual panicky self, I insisted we get there far too early. We registered and got our numbers and shirts (which was super exciting for me) and spent the time chatting, walking and stretching.
I used Julia like a sounding board for my ricidulous worries. All I could think was, "I'm fat, I can't do this." "I have chronically sprained ankles, I can't do this." When I started bemoaning the fact that I had a blister on the arch of my foot, Julia just laughed at me and said "You are just looking for things to worry about". I agreed she was right and shut up. Considering I had run the equivalent of a 5K a few times before this, I really have no idea why I was worrying.
The start seemed to happen pretty quickly. We all (I think about 400 runners were there) moved forward in a herd. Julia laughed and said "This is my favorite part." as we all bunched up. Soon the runners were spread out and we had our pace set pretty well. We passed a bag piper and Julia noted how its not the most inspiringly music to run to, though it does feel like a salute. For most of the run, Julia talked while I gave mostly monosyllabic responses (which is exactly how I predicted the run to her before we started). She told me about the book she was reading and previous races. She checked in often about how I was doing and our pace, and said encouraging things and made me laugh. All in all she was a joy to run with. We laughed together as the man in front of us (who I had been using to pace myself) gave an encouraging butt slap to his female running partner.
|Happy 5K Finishers!|
Julia and I held hands as we bursted past the finish line. I heard the announcer say "Steeeeeeeephanie RICE!" which was absolutely awesome. I did not know they announced the names when you finish. We got some water, Julia patted me on the back and said "You did it!". And now, just like Julia and Laura said I would, I am wondering why I was so worried. It was easier then I thought it would be and I feel great having done it. I am already thinking of how I'll need to sign up for another in the spring and see if I can beat my time (36:47).