Help! I Feel My Motivation Leaving

With it being the most depressing day of the year this past weekend, maybe it’s no surprise my motivation hit a low — prompting a long email to Coach Mario with analogies about how my motivation was still being revived from its near death and is now a small, weak little bird that needs to be nurtured to grow strong.

Last week was busy and after the mile repeats from hell and TRX on Thursday, I had a hard weekend too. Friday was an hour run with some fartleks at 5K pace (which is like 6:00-6:07 for me – which is really goal 5K pace). I dragged my legs around the sanitary district ponds for seven miles and tried not to throw up on any birds in the wildlife sanctuary. Saturday, Floyd and I took it easy, watched TV, made cookies, and re-read Ender’s Game, because why not.

The whole point was to run marathon race pace on tired legs on Sunday. I had the tired part down, no problem. It was the other part I was worried about. So, I rode my bike around China Camp and then headed out for a run that was supposed to start easy and descend until I was running marathon pace (7:00-7:10) for the last 30 minutes.

Apparently, I haven’t run off the bike since whenever I did that sprint triathlon last summer, because with my legs feeling all jello-y I didn’t realize I was running quickly. And, since I don’t like to slow down once I’m running a certain speed for a whole host of psychological reasons, it got sort of stupid fast and then I just hung on. Suffice it to say that 6:50 is not my marathon pace.

While I was happy to (sort of) nail another workout, I could also feel myself coming unraveled around the edges, which was a little annoying, because I’ve been running fast — if fast isn’t enough to keep me heading out the door, then what is? Since I do all my workouts by myself more or less, this left a whole lot of “me time” to examine why I just wanted to lay on the couch and watch TV.

How to stay motivated?

I don’t know if other people struggle as much with motivation as I do. I certainly got the impression from the cadre of girls I knew in triathlon that they always felt awesome! and grateful! and just happy to be out here! and you have to stay positive!

Maybe they really did. Maybe by saying that they made it true. Maybe the lack of that is what separates me from being really good. I have heard over and over again that the best athletes don’t have to be pushed or motivated, you just have to hold them back. But, if, as an athlete, you know that to be true, can you simply will it into being?

I’m not unmotivated, per se. If you piss me off, I almost certainly am going to want to beat you. It’s more that I just start to drag my feet on my way out the door. And, that slowly has been getting worse and worse.

Floyd likes to head-butt.
Floyd likes to head-butt.

Almost every morning, Steve gets up before I do and lets Floyd the Cat out. And, then, whenever I’m ready to get up, I just push the bedroom door open and Floyd runs in and jumps up on the bed and wants to nose me and headbutt me and lay on my face. He pretty much won’t get up for 15-20 minutes, until eventually I’m like: ‘Floyd, we’ve got to get to work. We have a lot to do today.’

But, who wouldn’t rather stay in bed with the cat?

To stay “motivated” – if we want to call it that – training has to stay ‘fun.’ And, I am incapable of lying to myself, so don’t try. For me fun is:

– long runs on trails
– long rides out to Stinson or West Marin
– with friends – though I suppose I need to get friends first
– strength classes, because they’re always entertaining and there’s other people
– hard workouts with people

The common theme here is: I need to get some people to train with. So, the invitation is now open. Who lives near here, is about the same speed, wants to do whatever is on my training plan for the day, fit around my schedule?

Yesterday, I went on a ride with Ilyce and we stopped to eat lunch at Good Earth. (Apparently, saying you ‘used the Good Earth hot food bar’ is not the right expression, by the way.) And, then I went to Nate’s strength training class with the high school mountain bike team. I totally owned those high school boys too. That was fun.

Mile Repeats

Yesterday, I did mile repeats. As a staple of any running program, it’s not like I’ve never done them before. But, oh man, did I not want to do them yesterday.

In part, I was in a bad mood because of the whole Southwest screwing me thing and I don’t like doing hard workouts in strange places. It feels too much like diving into something you can’t see the bottom of. In part, I went a little nuts at the 24 Hour Fitness in Mesa over the weekend and overcooked my quads doing backsquats. In part, I had a lot of work to do and just wanted to curl up on the couch and finish my book before my Nook ran out of battery. But, mostly, it just sounded really hard.

It’s difficult to explain how much I didn’t train hard last year. I have tried, but people don’t believe me or they think it still sounds like a lot. And they’re sort of right. I ran plenty, but the big difference was I didn’t run much of it very quickly. I think I went to the track one time in 2012. And, I did mile efforts on the road maybe three times? But, never more than three mile repeats. That’s a 5K, I figured, that’s enough.

Training for the last 8 weeks has already been way harder than any preparation last year and Mario keeps promising that we’ll really get into serious marathon training soon. Uh..

So, I wasn’t excited yesterday about five mile repeats up and down a long stretch of bike path/sidewalk next to the canal. Does that sound appealing to anyone in the whole world? No. But, I did them anyway.

I was supposed to hit 6:35s, but I’m weirdly obsessive about not going over whatever my goal interval time is. For some reason, interval times feel like a maximum upper limit cap and if I get too close to that number I’ll be in the red zone and that’s bad and makes me a terrible person, obviously.

I’m crazy, but it means I really felt the need to run them in 6:30, which was fine for the first two. After the first two, though, I had to beg a Mediterranean deli to let me use their bathroom, which I may or may not have accidentally broken/tried to fix after it broke. And, from there, it just got ugly.

I ran two more in the low 6:30s, but felt like I was tearing my stomach in half. It was one mile from one end of the path to the other, with a little bridge/car crossing almost exactly half way. That meant, the entire time, I could see how far it was and how long it was taking to get to what didn’t look like it should take that long. I suppose that’s good practice for the stupid Kaiser Half Marathon, where it’s three miles out and then three miles back on the Great Highway. But, the last mile repeat, I just didn’t think I was going to make it. I thought about just running a half. I thought ‘it’s ok if you run this one in 6:35.’ I thought I wonder if I’ll throw up before I finish or after. Mostly, I just thought: come on, come on, two more minutes, a minute and a half, come on, 45 seconds, come on, hard as you can for 45 seconds, come on.

I made in 6:36, which naturally I consider a massive failure. But, close enough.

And, then, I had to football shuffle all the way home after a long break for some dry heaving, because anything faster made me feel sick.