Suffering & Motivation

“The explicit goal of training is discomfort.”

I happened upon an article in Runner’s World a few months ago about running & motivation and within it, the author was asking the 64 million dollar question: how does one motivate to run harder, faster, longer? If only there was a simple answer to that one!

Truth is, in order to protect your body, your brain will never allow you to go at a full 100% effort, so motivation then is truly perception and as the above quote implies, you must push yourself to an uncomfortable place if you want to improve your stride. But how do we get ourselves there? As runners, we tend to adopt just one type of suffering as we train- adding distance *or* speed. Now that begs the question (one that I have been wrestling with for the past few weeks)- do you really want to do what it takes, feel as uncomfortable as possible, to achieve improvement? Can one really endure the leg-burning-lung-searing effort it takes to get faster? Can you add on those miles and still feel good about it?

For me, the answer is usually, “Yes!” and on some days, “No!” and then even on some race days, “HELL NO!”

So given that perspective, I have been thinking a lot about my personal goals and asking myself if I can truly do the work, really push myself to the uncomfortable place, in order to be a better runner? And, you know, I just don’t know! But now I DO know that therein lies improvement so if my 9:00 mile stays there, I know exactly why. Now, will I be happy with my performance as 9:00/mile runner forever? Hmmmmm… well, if I don’t do the work then I guess I have to be, right?

What do you think about this notion of suffering & improvement? How do you mentally prepare for discomfort of speed and/or distance? What are your personal goals and how do you motivate yourself to get there?

I've got the suffering part down!

3 thoughts on “Suffering & Motivation

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

    My wife was really motivated when she and her sister were on the same running schedule. As for other tips, well you got me. I still have no idea how she trained over the summer, aside from getting up super early to beat the heat.

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  2. Pingback: Today’s Reason: Speed (or lack thereof) | running4thereason

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