My friend Rob Denault (admitting that Rob is a friend – wow that’s a first) wrote a blog recently that I really liked (oh boy – two shocking statements in one sentence, this post is off to a WILD start). Jokes aside, Rob wrote about his motivation for being an elite athlete (click here to read) and summed it up by saying his goal is to “empty the tank.” His blog prompted me to reflect on my own answer to the question:
“Why am I doing this running thing?
This question has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially early in the track season when I haven’t found my racing legs and don’t have any results to show for months of training, I have doubts and occasionally worry that I’m wasting my time.
As a results-driven person, it’s difficult to focus and work really hard on something without concrete feedback that you’re making the right decisions. I like feeling accomplished and knowing where I stand. School gives you grades, work gives you projects/deals, and running gives you races. “Gives” might be too generous a word, but whether these are accurate measures of achievement or not, they’re established metrics that I’m used to.
I’m also used to working hard and succeeding. Running scares me because I don’t have any guarantees that I’m going to succeed. I know, I know, you can never truly have guarantees – but when you’re getting marks back/feedback on projects, outcomes seem more predicable then when you’re standing on the start line and have no idea what the next few moments will bring.
Similar to Rob’s “empty the tank” mantra I feel like I need to follow through on what I’m passionate about. It’s remarkably rare to find something that you’re genuinely excited about. Something you’re so invested in that you don’t have to try to find motivation to care about it because you just do.When you find something that makes you give a crap you should stick it out.
It could be a job, school, activity, or person – it could be anything. I love Mike Manson’s article (click to read) about how people are obsessed with searching for their passions, but real passion doesn’t need to be hunted for because you’re already doing it. He argues that the things you’re passionate about are what already fill your thoughts and hours, they don’t seem like chores, and you might not even notice you’re skilled at it them because it’s your second nature.
I want running to be that thing I am so good at. While I don’t know if I’ll ever make the Olympics, or run a two-minute 800m, or be a Senior National Champion, I do know that I love to imagine it. I know I want to do it everyday and I know I need to follow that feeling. Saying it’s your goal to make the Olympics is respected/”understood” by people – which seems weird because so few people can actually relate to that. But it’s more relatable than saying “I’m really passionate about running two laps on a rubberized surface”. Additionally, running creates the opportunity for me to travel to new places and spend time with some pretty awesome people. So why not keep running?
It’s rare that something grabs your attention and holds on, making you feel alive and giving you purpose. I might be changing my tune when I have more responsibilities… But for now I intend to make the most of every authentic interest I
find already have.
PS Thanks for reading!