This is an excellent question, and I am not sure I really know the answer, but I'll use this post to reflect on the past 2 years and hopefully we'll have an answer at the end :) Actually, I do know the answer, but I don't think it's what anyone wants to hear because it's not an easy fix. It all boils down to intrinsic motivation. Find what makes you tick and harness it. So here's a recap of how I found mine.
It all started in late January/early February of 2008 when I had finally had enough of being fat and chose to do something about it. How fitting that I should post this pretty much 2 years later. For those keeping track, that basically means that I went from 0 to marathon in 2 years! Wow!
I believe the key for me was that I started with small steps. I didn't jump into this full force trying to run a mile or anything. In fact, running didn't come into the picture until much later. I started simply with workout DVDs, doing 10 minutes of kickboxing 3 times a week. Eventually, I moved up to 30 minutes 3 times a week. Then I registered for a 2 mile race to keep me motivated, which I planned to walk, so I started walking before or after work, and sometimes to work, on a regular basis.
Completing that race and sprinting across the finish line was the turning point for me. It was at that moment that I understood why my dad raced for all those years. It was thrilling to have strangers cheering you on as you gave it your all to make it across the mat. I resolved right then and there that I would become a runner like my dad. The following week I began the Couch to 5K Program.
It has not been an easy journey, but I used what I knew drives me to get through it and keep me going.
- Set small attainable goals -- instead of setting a big goal that would take months or years to achieve, I set something challenging yet doable in a short period of time. I love making lists and crossing items off, so seeing constant success gave me the confidence to set my sights higher. This worked both for losing weight and eventually training for the marathon.
- Registered for races -- I registered for, and completed, races before I even finished C25K. I hate wasting money, so you better believe that if I registered and paid money for it, I'd be there. I didn't need to run the entire thing, but it was great seeing my times improve from one race to the other and being able to run more at each one. It also helped having a goal to shoot for so I would keep up with my training.
- Blog -- I believe this blog has been a huge helped in keeping me going. Knowing that there are people out there rooting for me is a huge motivator.
- Inspiring others -- After I finished C25K and lost a ton of weight, people started asking me how I did it. I told them my story and many took up running too using C25K. Having others look up to me for inspiration is also a source of motivation because I feel like if I quit I let them down too.
- Group training -- I joined various running groups, training programs, and meetups. I met a lot of amazing people that inspired me. It also helped diversify my training so I never got bored. Organizing group training sessions also helped keep me accountable because if others were depending on me to show up I had to be there :)
Running opened the door to a whole near world for me where I could achieve anything if I set my mind to it. Without that first minute of running during week 1 of C25K, I would have never found the confidence I needed to train for a half marathon, triathlon, and now the marathon. I'm already looking ahead to the next challenge, because I know the marathon is not the end of the road for me. There will be many more marathons and even bigger challenges ahead. I'm excited for the possibilities!