Having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now?

The other day, I ended my post with ‘the best approach to running a marathon lies in having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now”. I had no time to develop the idea so I’ll try to do it today.
having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now”
I could have written “choosing a motivation” because, as recreational runners, we don’t have to run. If we run marathons, it’s because we want to run marathons. And if we want to run them, it’s because we have a motivation.
Nobody obliges us to run so, once we have decided to run, we are free to decide why we run. It’s up to us to decide what makes us move, what makes us register and train for another marathon. It’s up to us to choose our motivation.
“having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now”
Here is my point: there are many possible motivations “available” to run a marathon but not all of them are compatible with the pleasure we get from running.
For instance, if we are happy because we feel our overall fitness is improving, because we enjoy our interval training sessions in the stadium, then a motivation orientated towards performance is compatible with our joy of running. And aiming at a new PB for our next marathon is a “good” motivation.
On the contrary, there are months when we dread all the interval sessions we start because we are afraid of injuries or because we are slower than before and the only time when we feel happy during these sessions is the moment when they finally end and we head off to the shower. In this case, even if we still have many weeks to get ready before our next marathon, do you think that training with a new PB objective as our only motivation for next marathon is compatible with our pleasure of running?
“having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now”
Pleasure is personal. What makes us happy matters, not what pleases our coach, our training mates, our neighbor or our job colleague. This is not a praise of selfishness because what brings us true joy will also please the people we really care about. And their pleasure will increase ours.
“having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now
Years pass and change us. Our motivations and our sources of pleasure too. Hence the need for adaptation…
(c) jacsonquerubin / flickr

Master quote

Anybody can be a runner… We were meant to move. We were meant to run. It’s the easiest sport.
Bill Rodgers

Bill Rogers at Boston marathon 1980

The best approach to running a marathon?

On Sunday I enjoyed the opportunity to run a few kilometers with a “Legend” of long distance trail running: Scott Jurek. In the evening, I spent a moment visiting his official website, interested by great reports and beautiful pics. But also, hoping to “learn” something and enrich my approach to running.

Of course this guy is a champion and I’m not (and notwithstanding all the respect I owe you, I guess you are not either if you read this humble blog…). Of course this champion is an ultra-distance runner and I’m not (but, related to my usual training mileage, a marathon is already an ultra-distance race for me!).

However, I guess I got something. Something obvious but something we (I guess that I’m not the only one…) might sometimes lose sight of during our marathon quest: PLEASURE.

Scott Jurek runs for his living. It’s his job, his “office”. It’s not a hobby as it is for most of us. Of course, it brings him many advantages that we’ll never enjoy in terms of time availability and material support. But I guess it also comes with a lot of “external” pressure for results, kind of pressure that can easily alter freedom and pleasure to run. However it doesn’t seem so for Scott Jurek. While smiling and talking to us on Sunday, or reporting about his races on his website, he shines with a true joy of running.

As “recreational” runners, we are blessed because we don’t have to endure “external” pressure. The only pressure we must carry is the one we choose to put on ourselves: our motivation.

So, here is my point: I believe the best approach to running a marathon lies in having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now.

I’ll write more about this idea soon 🙂

(c) vo2.fr

A few miles with Scott Jurek!

Yep! Surprise run with a Legend this morning! 🙂

This morning was my weekly long run and I had planned not to start too early because of the cold. But yesterday evening, one of my friends dropped me an email telling me that he was hesitating to go running with Scott Jurek or to start with me later.

“- He is in town these days and a little run with him is organized tomorrow at 9.00am, starting behind the casino… do you know this guy?

– What? Scott Jurek is here and you’re hesitating between Him and me? Let’s go! We won’t run the whole session with Him but we’ll do the first miles on the tarmac along the lake together before they head to the snowy paths of the mountain”.

And that’s exactly what we did.

I’m not a trail runner but I had really enjoyed reading “Born to Run“. So meeting one of the heroes of this book was great. Exchanging a few words with Scott and seeing his smily and humble attitude was really motivating!

OK, now I go swimming. For those of you interested, Scott Jurek is cross-country skiing this afternoon…

(c) christian

Bored while running?

There are very different kinds of runners (you already know that!). I mean we are very different. And I don’t speak about our speed or mileage, but more about our thoughts while running.

The other day, I’ve come across a nice post about running on a treadmill. The author is really performant in freeing her imagination to escape from boredom. Something I almost never do.

But then, how comes that I don’t get bored when running while I’m often so impatient in everyday life? Where is my mind then?

Is it still at work? Busy trying to solve issues from the office?… I guess not. Or if it does, I’m not even conscious about it.

Is it enjoying every bit of the environment I’m running in? The colors of the lake? The people I come across?… I never run on a treadmill and I’m lucky to live in a great place (when it’s not totally frozen!) so it could be. But no, it isn’t. Sometimes, at the end of a run, I don’t even remember where I’ve been or whom I’ve met.

Is it already visualizing the next marathon to come? Trying to repeat my runner partition and to internalize sensations?…
Could be but then it would mean that I’m always on track for a future race. And that’s not true.

So, why on earth am I not bored when I run? Where is my mind then?

With the risk of looking like an “ego maniac” guy, here is the answer: my mind is focused on… me, or more exactly on my running technique. Constantly checking if I keep my strides short and frequent, my knees always bent, my upper body relaxed… And when my mind gets tired and starts to wander around, my technique starts to fall apart. Believe me: it’s exhausting!

What about you? Where is your mind when you run?

(c) solea20 / flickr


You’re right: it’s beautiful…
… but give us a few degrees more please. It’s freezing cold out here!

(c) Michael Böhler

(c) Paul Maisonneuve

oh! oh! we have a problem…

(c) Philippe Kupper

Barcelona, I already miss you…

If it’s not about speed, then what?

The other day, I was wondering about my competitive state of mind and I ended up thinking that I could only lose this race against my past. At least, this was my temporary conclusion.

But if running races are not about speed, then what are they about? Aren’t they about pushing ourselves to and beyond our limits? Aren’t they about capitilazing on the competition (and competitors) energy to experience sensations we would never have reached alone during our training?

For sure they are. Races and finish times are powerful magnets. Even now, when I’m not so young and confident, I’m still terribly attracted by these personal challenges of (relative) speed.

But another inner voice* also tells me to move to something else. There must be a less risky approach of races. Less risky but still satisfying for my performance orientated state of mind.

(c) thomas_sly / flickr

* Well… I wish I was inspired by an inner voice but I’m afraid I was more by my painful experience