I read that to get though tough times on a race, you should be really clear on your “why”…
I thought that I would examine the question this off-season… and the answer surprised me.
What I thought the answer was…
“To be fit and healthy, inspiring others to do the same”
Unfortunately, this never ever entered my mind at the hard part of a race… I think it is, at the best, the reason why I train.
To be honest it just sounds too good to be true. During a race I feel immensely grateful. However, I am sure that my “age group” performance is one of thousands.
So what’s the clue?
During most races, I have a period where I get emotional, having a small chat with myself and feeling like having a good cry… thinking about this moment gave me a sign of the underlying truth.
And the real “Why”?
When I was in an abusive relationship at 40, I was reminded regularly that I was old and fat.
At the time I was 117kg. Now I am seven years older and I am able to live a fit life keeping my family safe.
When I am tired and emotional in a long race, I feel a massive feeling of love and gratitude. Both for being alive and for the people who support me, it feels amazing.
On some races, I don’t connect with this place and I find my ability to let go and run fast is compromised. For me to achieve a good time, I need to let go on the run and trust in my training. The races where I am cautious and don’t let go are never my best memories.
When I reach the point of suffering, I can connect with the me before all the problems. Somehow I don’t feel anger, but just really happy that I managed to turn things round… and grateful for being lucky enough to have the chance to do these things.
So I guess my real “Why” is to run free in the moment trusting in myself and feeling grateful for being alive.
I like to watch people come in at the end of an Ironman distance event and when I finish I head out to support. Not at the red carpet though… I like to go a few kilometres away, where finishing is not guaranteed.
That’s where you see people handling their motivation versus the increasing pain. I clap, shout and try to lift whoever is passing to let go and run home. I also think that when you look in someone’s face at this point you can see a truth normally hidden in everyday life.
You do not know what their “why” is, but you know that they will be thinking of it as they put one foot in front of another. Whatever is happening on the track at this point will be them, learning how to handle pain, gratitude, loss and love. That is an amazing thing to witness and connect with.
So for me, when times get tough on the next race, I will try to examine my “why” sooner… maybe the act of looking for it will help me let go and run free.