These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.
I still remember one of my first conversations with “Berg.” That was our term of endearment for Bob Rothenberg, head track and cross country coach at Brown University. It was the fall of 1986 and I had just arrived on campus eager, like all of my teammates, to run. Berg said, for us, running was "like brushing your teeth." That made sense to me. We had developed a useful habit. No one had to wake up, scratch his head and ask himself: "Should I run today?" About a quarter century later, I still run with about the same regularity as I brush my teeth, but I think of the comparison differently.
What would it take to skip brushing your teeth for one day? Say something happens to your toothbrush -— the dog chews it or it falls in the toilet. Or you are separated from your toothbrush by a night away (at the home of an unexpected liaison, for example) or, more likely, shipwrecked and marooned on a deserted island. Sure, you would go to some amount of trouble to salvage your routine. You could root around for an unused toothbrush under the sink. You could run out to the corner mart for a replacement. In desperation, you might even rub your teeth with your finger (like that is going to help!).
In comparison, there are many things that can cause athletes to skip a run. There are all the other things you could do with that time and energy: school work, professional work, writing, visiting with family and friends, watching kids play soccer. And then there's injury, which I estimate to be the most likely cause for first skipping, and then stopping, your daily runs. Come to think of it, we are at the mercy of a lot of worldly forces, and many of them push directly against our efforts to run. You will find yourself distracted by these forces. How you respond will determine the value you place on the pursuit of running excellence. I suspect that if you are a runner, you will dismiss these distractions. I'll explain how:
You have to cause your run.
The problem, in case you avoided philosophy class in college, is the work of those pesky worldly forces. Think of them as sirens, calling out the runner in you to certain death; they sing to you to take it easy, relax, catch the show with your wife and kick back on the beach with a mixed drink. Or, more insidiously, they whisper for you to be more productive with your time, work extra hours for that promotion and maintain your home. They are likely real people. When I started running ultras, my grandmother sat me down and talked to me earnestly about how excessive running was harming my health.
You can't just hope to ignore the temptation of worldly forces, though. The well established running routine of the most dedicated athlete is caused by forces just as grounded. When training for high school cross country, I made sure to run through neighborhoods and past the homes of girls I liked. I lapped up their animated disbelief at my running prowess like a puppy dog. We may run for prestige, health or social reasons. And these are good reasons. They just aren't very reliable causes of your pursuit of running. The girls grow up and get married. Young guns emerge to steal your thunder. Your joints start to hurt because of running. Your new friends don't run. You've submitted to the natural forces around you, so you skip a run, then several runs in a row and then too many to get back into it easily. The habit has been broken.
If you want to avoid the inevitable ebb and flow of the currents in which you are buoyed, you will have to anchor yourself. You will have to determine your position, no matter what. Set a course from which you cannot be swayed. World be damned! It may sound extreme, but I believe we all employ this kind of willfulness in pursuit of our goals. Ironically, when we are most fixed in our trajectory, we are most free because we are beyond the influence of material forces. An inversion of perspective occurs in the minds of accomplished athletes. Negative forces become positive. We welcome the burn from intervals that used to make us wince and slow down. We took on the project of getting fit for the target races of that season and embraced the work without question.
One example: I don't like running long races in hot conditions. It makes me sick. I should be repelled from these races in the same way that we are repelled from a particular food that we associate with nausea and vomiting. Yet each of the three times I have registered for the Western States 100, I spend the month of May gleefully overheating myself. I drive with the heat on, run at midday with layers of clothing and seek out the sun whenever I can. The twisted thing is, it feels good! The normal linkage between worldly causes and my behavior had been broken and re-configured to suit my purpose. I caused my run.
The distractions will inevitably find you. They may creep up on you along with your family and professional responsibilities. If you value continued running, you will have to steel yourself with a conviction to pursue your course no matter, and in spite of, any adverse circumstances. Just don't forget to pack your toothbrush.
Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.