“Comfort kills ambition. Get uncomfortable and get used to it in your pursuit of your goals and dreams.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Motivation is generally not a problem for me when I am staring down a big goal but setting goals has been a little more challenging of late. So far, in this new COVID-19 existence I have waved off treadmill marathons, 24-hour virtual events, the push-up challenge, TikTok dance things, and a Quarantine Backyard Ultra that seemed like it would never end. I still had fall race goals I was planning to run and my motivation was steady. It wasn’t until I realized that almost all running events were going to be canceled through September that I found myself falling into a goal hole and waning motivation.
Enter the 4x4x48. When I first read about it seemed ridiculous. And of course, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Run 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours? Such small chunks of running– let’s do it! (Glossing over the middle of the night runs and need for 3:30 am wake up calls!)
Although the 4x4x48 challenge is old news to some, it has become my newfound motivation, like a song that I can’t get out of my head. It isn’t so much to see if I can run 48 miles on a weekend but rather to nudge me from my quarantine routine of safeguarding my training for anticipated races that likely won’t happen. It’s to fling the doors wide open and spend some time being uncomfortable. To do something ridiculous to inspire my running again. And most importantly it is an opportunity to suck friends into this run, because who wants to suffer alone?
Sometimes it seems like this running compulsion is pretty crazy. Leave a comfortable couch, go do something that leaves you breathless, sweaty, and sore, something that is hard, something that may take a lot of time and could result in injury? Running IS hard and it can be wet and freezing or hot and humid and not all runs end in a runner’s high. But I always, eventually – if not immediately after a run when I’m thawing out my toes – remember my goals, and the reason I go out in the first place. That’s the driver. As ultra-runners we lean hard into this sport. Because we will remember all those cold, wet runs; the runs we didn’t want to do; the runs we did but felt they sucked; the runs we did over family vacations; the runs we finished in the pitch dark; the runs we did at 3:00 am; the runs we did over and over and over again on the same loop when we’re staring straight at our goal.
Finding Your Motivation
So now what? With races canceled for the foreseeable future and access to many trails closed, where do you find your running motivation? Are you working on your FKT for the neighborhood loop? Maybe you’re running a virtual race? Are you setting some 2021 goals and dreaming big? Don’t slip into a goal hole, finding your motivation can come from so many places:
- Looking back on your accomplishments and remembering what you are capable of
- Remembering the energy that carried you across a finish line of a tough race
- Thinking about your first ridiculous-sounding race and how you felt working towards it
- Reflecting how your running has motivated others
- Listening to the inner voice that won’t quit calling you to something great
Setting Your Goal
It’s time to start a frenzied brainstorm, with internet rabbit holes, actual paper and pen, an open mind, and no bad ideas. Storm while running, storm on a Zoom call with friends or storm while kneading your latest attempt at sourdough. Find a goal that is ridiculous and uncomfortable and most importantly will cause your friends to get FOMO at just the thought of your idea and join in from 6 feet away. Motivation is contagious, right? Find the thing that inspires you and start training for your newest event, The Ridiculous Uncomfortable. Lift others up to your goal as a way of lifting yourself. It won’t be easy, and that is the point. It should be hard, you will need others, you will need snacks and you will need the will to push through. It will be worth it.
See you on the trails (or in the neighborhood in the middle of the night, again at 4:00 am and every four hours for the next few days!)