Prior to becoming hooked on endurance sports, I had an interesting journey of “motivation ups and downs” leading me to where I am today. Around four or five years ago, my workout routine lacked any real consistency and my nutrition wasn’t all that great. I was a skinny guy, like I have always been, but that does not mean I was the healthiest fellow. I consider myself a “goal-oriented” person and at the time, needed a goal, not only for the challenge, but also in the interest of taking on a new hobby. So I, along with a close friend, signed up for a half marathon.
I know what most of the audience out there is thinking – running is evil, only meant for punishment! Well, that may be true, but we all have a little bit of craziness within ourselves and mine is released through running. And remember, this was before I discovered my affinity for endurance sports so training for that race was an absolute game changer, both physically and mentally. Physically, it was about devoting time and energy to run and follow a detailed running program. Mentally, it was about setting a goal and somehow staying motivated throughout the training process. Coincidentally enough, I discovered getting in to good shape brought a new passion to my life: running.
Once the half marathon was complete, I had another burning question – what’s next?? After experiencing the high of the journey and accomplishment of that race, I couldn’t stop there. That’s when I was approached to do a triathlon. You know, swimming, biking and running, all thrown together in to one race. The challenge wasn’t just any triathlon. No no no! It was for a half ironman. For those unfamiliar, this race distance is made up of a 1.2-mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike ride and then you polish it off with a tall, cool 13.1-mile run. Add it all up and you have 70.3 miles (hence why these races are called Ironman 70.3 races. See, the more you know!). The race was 10 months later. I committed and away we went!
Training for a long-course triathlon is no joke. You need to put the hours in. Dedication and time management is so paramount. You have to possess a singular focus on that goal. Early morning swims; long weekend bike rides; hard running on tired legs. Another huge challenge is learning what works for you and what doesn’t, both physically and mentally. Physically, I found out adding too much training volume when your body isn’t strong enough to handle it, doesn’t work. About halfway through my training, I development knee tendonitis, which I can tell you is not something you want to experience. It never really occurred to me that you can get injured through swimming, biking or running. Oh yes you can. Overuse injuries run rampant in the endurance community. Not only have I dealt with knee issues the past few years, I have also been hit with injuries to my back (oh my back!) and ankles (stress fracture).
This is what led me to our favorite gym on the east side: Results Fitness. Committing to a regular strength routine has been huge for me. Coaches Josh and Matt have done an incredible job working on my muscle imbalances and focusing on the improvement of my overall functional strength. I wouldn’t be able to have consistent training without it. Huge shout out to those guys!
So, you may be asking yourself, how does this apply to me? I can tell you one thing, the amount of training and daunting races I do is not required to establish a rewarding and healthy lifestyle. It really is all about finding your “race” and working towards that goal. That can be weight loss, building muscle or getting active. What I enjoy most about training is the journey towards a goal, not necessarily the goal itself. Attaining the goal is “graduation”. The journey and the constant opportunity to improve is what motivates me. Every day I drop a penny in to proverbial piggy bank of fitness. Another aspect that cannot be overlooked, which quite possibly could be the most prominent motivation, is the relationships you build along the way. I have made several life-long friendships participating and training for these races. I challenge them and they challenge me. They also hold me accountable to getting in my workouts, like waking up at 4:30am to drag myself out the door to meet them for an open water swim for instance. I think this same type of thing definitely holds true to all else that gets you active and like fellow Results Fitness member Dan shared here, it most certainly holds true at RF!
When it comes down to it, exercising can be extremely fun and rewarding with the right outlook. I legitimately enjoy going out for a bike ride or a run. The fitness gained is merely a bonus. The people you meet and the places you go (I am a sucker for out of town races) have added to my life in ways I did not foresee. A few years ago, I never would have believed I’d be training for an Ironman. Which leads me to this point: whenever I am asked what distance these races are made up of, the most common responses I get is “what is wrong with you??” or “I could never do that”. Well, you know what? Yes you absolutely can! Triathlons, marathons, 5Ks, tough mudders, bodybuilding competitions or whatever you set your mind to are full of people just like you and me. It doesn’t come easy but isn’t that the point? All you need to do is commit and put in the work. Just imagine what you can accomplish if you sprinkle some motivation on your morning avocado toast (that is also my secret, avocado toast).
Looking back, deciding to challenge myself to that half marathon was one of the most impactful decisions I have ever made. It has truly added to my life in a way I never thought possible. I am lucky to have found it.
To date, I have completed 4 half ironmans (with a 5th planned for October 2018), numerous other shorter distance triathlons and trail running races. I have recently made my largest commitment to date: a full ironman in 2019. Yes, that is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. 140.6 miles. It is quite the challenge, but I have built up to it and now is the time.
Regardless of who you are, where you’re starting from or what you want to accomplish, it’s about discovering and sustaining motivation that will fuel your journey. Like Conor pointed out, motivation is more than just crossing the proverbial finish line. It’s about the meaningful and significant impact each new challenge and experience adds to your life.
Are you wondering how you can discover and channel your own, internal motivation that will transcend you down a path of further greatness? We know it’s in you– let’s find it together!