Thursday, May 13, 2010

Curiosity and Motivation

Usually the song goes at the end, but try playing this song as you read the article and see if it helps..

hf - lovely allen (great song for going fast ;)

As much as we wish we were limitless fountains of energy, passion, and motivation, we are human beings with imperfections and weaknesses. Everyday we have perceptions of workouts and races at hand and our ability to handle them. Though we don't know it, there's a unique "best possible time" for each and every one of these unique workouts and races. We may train for what we consider a perfect time on a course, but the number may be much higher or lower depending on how healthy you are on the start line, and the conditions of the course. This challenge to discover our best time is what competing is all about.

Throughout the years I've started to consider this to be my true gauge of performance. Though there will always be qualifying times, the only qualifying time that should ever truly matter is the one in your heart. It should be the feeling that whatever you were gifted with, you used it to the best of your ability in the most honorable way. If you know you squandered a gift, it's okay to feel bad about it.. But if you ran the best you could on a bad day (even if it was much slower than you wanted), there is never anything wrong with that!

More often than not, we're going to read race reports, browse result pages, and calculate splits to see who ran what, and how much faster we have to go achieve a dream time. However, should we really ever slow down in a race if we feel good and are in control of a sustainable pace, but a split is "too fast". Or, should we ever speed up if we're running the best paced race we can, but the splits are too slow? All too often, this shift robs a runner of several minutes (even hours) because the body eventually slows and takes time to recover and get back in a groove.

I feel like this is the mental aspect of running that hangs people up the most and keeps runners from reaching successively better "best possible times". The number isn't the issue as much as the internal honesty. The feeling that you knew what you had to do, and you ran an all out race as best as you could leads to a consistent growth in performance and an avoidance of mental barriers.

(no one behind you matters, it's only you and the clock)

The common theme to perpetuate this attainment of best possible times, is curiosity. No matter how sharp a coach is or how well you know your body, the actual best possible time is never known until you go out and try. No one can claim a PR by doing a similar workout or trying to extrapolate pace other distance. You must go out and earn it, and to do so, you must have the motivation to find out what is really out there.

Curiosity and a love for the sport are beautiful things behind some of the greatest athletic feats of all time. Roger Bannister just wanted to see if he could break 4 minutes in the mile; Geb just wanted to see if he could run a marathon a little bit faster than 2:04. Their curiosity wasn't the only element in those performances, but it did provide a lot of motivation throughout years of training and suffering.

An accomplishment can be short lived, but curiosity can last a life time. I think the need to know what I can do is my real driving force. Though it may not be all that important to everyone, next time you go out, try asking the question to yourself, and see what happens.. ;)

Fig a: World Marathon Record Progression:

Fig b: Scott Jurek's American 24 hour record


Rod Bien said...

First time checking out your blog. Nice writing. Adding you on my list and look forward to watching you kick some butt this summer.

Dominic Grossman said...

I dig your blog too, that picture never stops inspiring me.. We have some good times ahead this summer.