Drive

What is the driving force that motivates you to do what you do? In other words, WHY do you ski? (or run, bike, swim…insert your sport of choice)

No, really. Think about it.

It’s a much harder question than it sounds.

In our SMS girls team meeting last night, Annie P asked us all this question. We had already shared our goals for the summer and the year, and then we started figuring out how to help each other on a daily basis. This was a great question for her to ask, because if you know what motivates someone, you can figure out how to encourage them and help them reach those goals.

The SMS girls on a roll (photo by Pat)
The SMS girls on a roll (photo by Pat)

I opened my mouth, ready to give my answer, and then realized I needed to think a little longer. I knew what doesn’t motivate me, but what IS it that enables me to get out in the rain and go training, to push hard during intervals even when nobody is around and the coaches won’t know whether I finished my set or not?

Some are motivated by medals, some by money. Others get out the door in pursuit of a fit body or a rush of adrenaline. Some are motivated by achieving a personal best, while others are out to beat everyone else. One person might be motivated by a challenge, another by setting new records. It all depends on what works for you! For example, medals don’t motivate me. If I’m doing hard intervals and a coach yells out “do you want that Gold?!?!?”…that does nothing for me. But last spring when we were doing hard double poling intervals and one of my big goals was to make the team sprint team at Worlds, Matt yelled out “think about what team you want to be on!!!” and I somehow found another gear that I didn’t know I had.

My parents still tease me by saying “I do it mine-self!”, which was my favorite saying as a toddler. I always wanted to do everything by myself. Somewhere in my infant mind I was all about being a strong, independent woman, thank you so very much. The mere offer of help from someone was an insult, a challenge, a suggestion that I wasn’t capable of doing it. So even if it was ridiculous, I would do it all by myself. So I guess you could say that I was motivated by the idea of being self-sufficient and strong.

My Dad wrapping me up after I nearly went hypothermic doing a distance challenge swim in Lake Superior. Stubborn from a young age!
My Dad wrapping me up after I nearly went hypothermic doing a distance swim Challenge in Lake Superior. Stubborn from a young age!

These days I’m motivated by something else.

I’m driven by the idea of doing something really, really hard, and pushing myself past my previous threshold. I like going after challenging intervals and races and knowing that most people in the world can’t, or won’t, push themselves to that elusive edge. I’m motivated by that feeling after a race when you know that you couldn’t have given anything more, and that win, lose or draw, you found your limits and then found the will to push past them. So when the going gets tough in a race, I just think “how do I want to feel when I’m standing on the finish line? Will I be proud of what I’m doing right now?”

This works well for me in training. But it can also be dangerous, because I have the tendency to overtrain in search of that elusive “runner’s high”.  It’s important for me to recognize this and designate workouts where I can turn lose and ones where I will keep it dialed in tight.

Mostly conscious after a treadmill test - another instance where it's you against yourself (photo by Liz)
Mostly conscious after a treadmill test – another instance where it’s you against yourself (photo by Liz)

I did this one workout last summer that was designed to let me find that feeling, really dig deep into my own mind and see what I found there. It was a simple setup: 4 minute L4 intervals (so 5km-10km race pace) where I started from the same spot every time and marked the finish spot on my first interval. I then proceeded to keep doing intervals until I couldn’t make it to that same finishing point anymore. That was a brutal workout, and here’s why: I could stop any time I wanted to. I could dog it and pretend to get tired when the pain became too much, when it got hard to breath and haul myself up the hill one more time. Nobody would know but me. But I wanted to know that I truly gave it everything, so even when I was on my hands and knees dry heaving after 4 minutes, I’d get up and keep going, pushing harder. Cork would look at me and say “you done?” and I’d say “just one more”.

To tell you the truth, I don’t remember how many intervals I ended up doing, and it doesn’t matter, because the point was that I did way more than I thought I was capable of doing. I only did that workout once last summer, because it’s extremely expensive in terms of physical and mental energy and it would be easy to overtrain if I did it often. But it made me feel like such a badass, and it let me tap into that feeling that motivates me and gets me fired up. 

So think about it, and figure out what it is that gets you out the door every day. Knowing that is important, and sharing it with people you trust is important, too. If they know what your goals are and what gets you fired up about achieving them, then they can help you take that next step forward!

Training with my SMST2 teammates with the mountain in the background (photo by Pat)
Training with my SMST2 teammates with the mountain in the background (photo by Pat)

In other SMS team news, we have had a great week of training! We did some fast double poling intervals, and Pat’s been doing an awesome job getting us lots of video footage to look over and learn from afterwards.

Analyzing video Pat sent us after our workout
Analyzing video Pat sent us after our workout

We also did a threshold workout with the SMS juniors, where they could hop in behind us and mimic our technique, work on drafting, and stay with us as long as they wanted then circle back around and hop in the next interval. I loved it, especially because with the high school boys following me it was added incentive to keep using my best technique – I didn’t want to set a bad example!

Me leading Russell and Ben during a L3 workout at Ball Mountain (photo by Pat)
Me leading Russell and Ben during a L3 workout at Ball Mountain (photo by Pat)

We’ve got a few more key workouts coming up this week, and I’m pumped for them. And now I know exactly what to yell to my teammates to keep them fired up. 🙂

Andy and I showing off our T2 Foundation hats - and our extremely bright roller ski clothes!
Andy and I showing off our T2 Foundation hats – and our extremely bright roller ski clothes!
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