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No matter if the goal race is as a finisher or a DNF, motivation, or lack thereof, is something that all runners face when completing any training cycle. As a runner myself, I truly understand the motivational struggle and is something I’m especially focused on right now in my training.

I ended my running season last year with a DNF at a proud 131 miles at Bigfoot 200. After months of careful recovery and rehab, I twisted my ankle on the subway in New York on New Year’s Day which made me unable to run for the entire month of January! Then on February 1st, I returned to my running coach Dana Katz after a 5-month hiatus only to find out I’m on the waitlist for my goal race for this season, Vol State 500k. This isn’t even including all the other major life issues leading up to Bigfoot 200 to today that constantly tested my motivation and dedication to this sport.

 

 

Having a few years under my belt as an ultra runner, I really feel like I’ve utilized the skills I’ve learned about myself on how to continually find motivation. Knowing yourself is so key and sometimes easier said than done which is why we have friends, trail buddies, crew and pacers to help us out from time to time. Plus practice helps.

In some ways, I feel lucky because I have found a rhythm to my year. I know that when I have the most availability for training and races.  Having this kind of structure allows me to maintain a realistic training plan with an accurate amount of recovery/rest. My type A personality also loves a predictable schedule. Well, some predictability. I know I’m not the only one that has missed races due to life complications
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Since I have a little bit more awareness around my training schedule lately, I’ve been able to record data about myself over the past few years and these are the things I’ve learned about myself:
  • Focusing on things other than running throughout the year like strength training, recovery periods, other sports, travel and even work obligations really help balance out my calendar and feel like I’ve always got something to look forward to.
  • I really like anticipation, so for me knowing that there is a future race before the current race is complete continues that drive and dedication to the sport.
  • I do need breaks from intense coaching/training for my overall well-being. Over-training makes my brain lead to hurt and heartbreak. Knowing this about myself really helps me to be gentle to my well-being and apply the brakes appropriately.
  • I need to cross train, not only for the diversity of my physical body but also my mental and spiritual body. There are too many benefits to cross training to list!
  • Keep fun in mind. * talking, writing, watching, dreaming etc… anything about running fuels my passionate fire for the sport is especially motivating for me. Especially when I’m feeling low. * recovery is key.
  • Having a Plan B prepared for when a race is canceled or waitlisted. I like to know that my training efforts are going to go somewhere even if I can’t make it to my goal event.
  • Eating a healthy whole food vegan diet, even during the off-season, helps not only with my physical health but also my emotional and mental health. Plus I don’t feel so sluggish when the season starts to pick back up again.
  • Keeping stress low. I think we all know the benefits of a low-stress lifestyle so I put forth the effort of living one.
  • Always finding time to get enough sleep. It’s the only way the brain can detox and stay functional. If my brain doesn’t work, I don’t really work well and when I’m working well it feels good to stay on track with your goals.
  • Cannabis also helps and knowing what strains and when to consume in the cycle of training. I’ve definitely had to learn that over time and seems like it can vary.
  • Learning to navigate the waves of emotions with a better presence of mind and to remember that they are only temporary. I do have to remind myself of this one from time to time and when I do, I find it exceptionally motivating.
My personal experience with ultra running has honestly given me a lot more motivation than any other activity I’ve ever had in my life. It’s not my most challenging endeavor considering my lifestyle choices, however, ultra running is the one activity I know I will find complete pleasure practicing for life.