Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why do you train?

It is the age old question that often pops up several times a season..... in the beginning when you are trying to set the middle when you've hit a slump and just can't seem to get past sub-XX....or in the end during your goal race when you've come face to face with the wall.

At last night's HH, during the dwindling hours, this topic again came up. A fellow runner-ette who recently switched to a more challenging group was pondering said question. We all agreed that clearly there was some new motivation or unmet need that enticed her to switch groups. Yet she was still searching for the reason to specifically, not walk during any part of the long runs.

It was interesting to hear everyone's opinions and ideas. And naturally, it made me think of my own reasons for training and racing.

For me, it isn't just one thing. Some days, some reasons are stronger than others...but they are all in there, swirling around together, providing the impetus to keep moving, move faster, or to try harder.

In no particular order here are some of my reasons:

- I like how training makes my body look and feel. I feel strong. I feel healthy. Weirdly, it makes me feel like in the event of some sort of natural disaster, I'd be able to take care of my kids, my know, like Katrina or something. I'd be able to haul my kids to the roof, or climb the tallest tree and hold them tight for hours and hours, or pull them in raft for miles. That kind of thing. Some weird darwinistic episode where only the strongest survive. (I read a lot of fiction... The Stand, by Stephen of my all time favs)

- I train hard because I feel like my family makes tradeoffs for me so that I can spend the hours that I do away from them. So, if I'm going to be away from them, it better be for a worthwhile cause, you know? If I'm doing Mesa hill repeats instead of playing Twister with the boys, I'd better be going hard..the whole time...otherwise I feel like I've devalued their time which is, of course, very precious to me. (I'm sure that is a lot of Catholic guilt rolling around in there...but it is what it is...)

- I don't want to disappoint my coaches or my teammates. Even though running and triathlon are individual sports, I whole heartedly embrace the team elements of it all. I LOVE being a part of a team. And yes, I want my coach to be proud of me. I know I shouldn't need external validation...blah, blah, blah..but I do. SO THERE.

- I train hard because I can. More and more I hear about people my age, friends, family members being diagnosed with cancer, suffering from heart conditions, kidney problems, back problems that prohibit them from running again, etc. Who knows how long I'm going to be able to do what I do? I want to take advantage of every day that I just never know. Pessimistic view? maybe....but I don't want to regret not doing it when I had the chance...

- I train because it is cheaper than therapy. Seriously. Sometimes a good long run can do wonders for your state of mind. Clear your head. Give you an opportunity to think about things. Give you some space to blow off some frustration..productively. This is my 5th triathlon season and my 6th serious running season. During this time, I've had 6...yes, SIX miscarriages. Many, many a day I would've just stayed in bed, wallowing in the inability of my body to do something it is supposedly designed to do....but instead got up and embraced what it COULD do. Pounding my frustration into the ground one step at a time, sweating and crying out feelings....all the while making room for hope, renewal, strength, fortitude.

- I'm a competitor. At the end of the day, I love to compete. I like to compete against myself and I like to compete against others who I feel share the same drive and desire to excel. I LOVE having a nemesis. I want to be able to beat my nemesis on her best day. I like seeing the numbers and surpasing them. I want to go faster. I want to go longer. I love that there are common goals that are like standards in our sports -- like qualifying for Boston or completing an Ironman. It reminds me of educational standards...bachelors..masters degrees, etc. When you say you have a Masters, people know what it takes to accomplish that and appreciate what you've done. Again, I know I shouldn't need external validation...but I like it. so there. call me shallow or whatever, but it is what it is. hmpf.

- I love the racing high. It is a great drug. There is nothing like the rush of lining up at the start, feeling your heart pounding and getting ready to go out there and give it your all. Runner's high? I totally get it. I love it. Can't get enough of it. I guess it's the endorphins?? Whatever it is.....I absolutely love the feeling it gives me. I want it. Need it. :)

As usual, more than you probably wanted to know...but there you have it.

So, why do you train?


MikeW said...

So I can eat queso and not feel too bad about it.
Because it's fun
Because it's addictive
Because the cool kids do it
Because I feel alive
Because it makes my time onthe couch feel well deserved
Because I want to
Because there's no better feeling on earth than the feeling of accomplishment, and I get to feel that 6 or 7 times a week!

Erin said...

I think the feeling of accomplishment we had immediately falling over after our last plank last night (and prior 2+ hours on the bike) sums it up for me.

Thanks for sharing. You are definitely an inspiration to more people than you could imagine.

Shorey said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with needing or wanting external validation. I need it all the time, and it's the reason why some training groups don't work for me as well as others. We are social creatures, and the friendships I've made through all this training are fantastic. That's one of my big reasons. I also suspect that without training I'd be HUGE. But I agree with Mike & Erin - accomplishment is always a win.

holly said...

Thanks for sharing. You're an inspiration.

Thank you.

Driver said...

Those are some great reasons...thanks for making me take a step back and look at why I run!!

And sorry I had to run to work the other week, double or nothing!!