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Need motivation? Sign up for a race.

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As part of my renewed interest in getting healthy, I have started to read Runners World again.  Since I’ve mostly not been running the last 4 years, I’ve also mostly not been reading Runners World.  As I was perusing the new March 2017 issue, one of the columns really spoke to me.  It is called The Race to Run by Jonathan Beverly, as part of the These Running Times column.  It doesn’t seem RW publishes current articles on their website so I can’t link to it directly, but if you subscribe to the magazine, look it up.

It is mostly a statement on using a race as motivation to train, and without a race on the calendar the frequency and intensity of training can drop off.  The analogy he uses is of a college course and a final, with the race being the final, and the training for the race all of the coursework that goes into preparing for the final.  Once you know the final (or race) is on the calendar, then it becomes more motivating to put in the work.

In terms of where I am today, I also connect this to the bike rides I am doing in my gym.  In my current mostly pathetic state of training, I find myself doing periodic rides on the stationary bike at the gym, which I really hate.  I enjoying riding outside and running outside, and can do both for long stretches enjoying the scenery and watching life pass by.  But doing the same things in the gym, to me at least, are extremely tedious and mind numbing.  My gym has two Expresso stationary bikes, which have a video screen and different courses to pick from that you virtually ride, so that at least it feels like you are riding somewhere, and making it less mind numbing.  I still don’t really like to do this, but I try to make it a point to start each of my workouts with an Expresso ride.

For 2017, Expresso has been publicizing a ‘ride of the week’, where they select a particular course each week to ride and the rider gets entered into a challenge to see how they did among all the other riders of the same course.  While not a ‘race’ in the strict sense of the word, it is a competition, which for me is close enough, and now I find myself motivated to get to the gym and get my rides in.  The course changes on a weekly basis, which keeps it fresh and different, but over the course of the week I can do 2 or 3 rides on the course working to improve my time and work my way up the leaderboard.  Who knows how long I’ll keep this up, but since it keeps me motivated, it keeps me happy.

I also wrote a bit myself on the topic of races back in January 2011, where I said:

My marathons were both disappointing.  I technically have excuses for both of them (hot weather), but the results were not what I wanted.  It is all about setting the correct expectations though, and I really think that mentally I’m OK with not setting a goal of 4:30 in the marathon going forward.  As it was stated in the Phineas and Ferb episode my kid was watching this morning, “the joy is in the journey.”  That really struck a chord with me.  It is not so much the results in the race that matter to me.  Sure, a PR or excellent race is welcome, and will make me feel good, but the true joy for me is in the process of preparing for the race.  It is the training to get my body to perform the effort needed.  It is the planning of the trip to an out of town race.  It is the anticipation leading up to the race.  It is being a part of the race, toeing the start line.  These are the things that make me happy, and not so much that I finished in 4:29 vs 4:49, etc.  I’ll cover my plans for 2011 in a separate post, but you’ll see from some of my plans, that it is more about participating and less about the time I finish with.

I hope to be healthy enough later in the year to be racing again, and I am looking forward to signing up for more races, so that it ensures I am motivated to put in the training, which is really what is needed to be healthy!

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