Community//

Motivation in Endurance Journeys

Is the "wanting to do it" enough to motivate

Why is it some people embark on crazy physical endurance journeys and others don’t. How come so many endurance athletes feel the need to raise awareness or funds for a good cause on these endurance challenges? Isn’t the wanting to do it enough to motivate?

I just had a phone call with my oldest brother, who is a successful family- and business man. Smart guy, trains when life permits, has run a very fast 10k and travels the world. But he would not consider running 100k. I would, I am. “Why do you need to motivate your run? It feels like you need to add a logical reason and cause for running 100k. It feels like the awareness and fundraising for Endometriosis has been applied afterwards. The human being bases most decisions on emotion. Isn’t that enough to run 100k?” That is a very good question.

“Isn’t wanting to run 100k enough to pull it off, he asked. I went quiet, then I went a bit defensive (I’m the little sister) and then I started thinking. What a great subject. To me its a no brainer, but not to him. So these are my thoughts. I am no expert, I can only speak for myself.

“With every decision you take, every judgement you make, there is a battle in your mind – a battle between intuition and logic.-Toby Macdonald”

I am the first to admit, I base decisions on emotion. Primarily. I think many of us do. I’m curious to know if endurance athletes are found in both or dominant in the one.

(That’s a separate post) Luckily I am married to a man that is very logical and he reminds me of the logical in all the emotional. He would never run 100k if it wasn’t a life or death situation! And I have logical brothers (ha!) I have that part too, it just takes longer for my brain to reach those thoughts. This has been my downfall in many occasions but also my success. Especially in training & racing. Training teaches me to filter the emotional and racing taught me to turn it into power. In other words, my gut feeling fuels me. I allow and accept the emotional, then move on quick. Is that resilience? Is this common for endurance junkies?

My brother would never run 100k, unless it was to save somebodies life. Are you crazy? 100k. For fun? Willingly?

Why is it some people embark on these types of journeys. And others don’t? I don’t have the answers but I can speak for myself:

WHAT IS MY WHY?

– I am crazy enough to think I can

– Why not?

– It makes me feel alive

– I love challenges, especially where mind meets body. Or maybe because mind meets body.

– The feeling of satisfaction in dreaming, creating and completing this challenge. I created this journey, it wasn’t given to me. There is a lot of satisfaction in that.

100k feels like the easier part (I know, you are probably smiling now, especially if you have run 100k) Getting to that start line is my greater challenge. The journey to reach that start line. THAT’S the challenge.

WHAT IS MY MOTIVATION?

Motivation (noun) – a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.

It’s easy. My motivation is feeding all the above. What is your why? Answers to my why motivate me in this endurance journey. The satisfaction of feeling capable. The feeling of being capable is a very powerful self worth builder. Something I notice in raising and guiding my children. Throughout my whole life I have been told I’m impatient and impulsive. Running 100k you need everything but impatient and impulsive. What if I could turn the power and energy that impatient and impulsive gives me to an asset rather than a not so charming character trait.

“Motivation is the desire to do things.”

INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC

There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

The intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual. Desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, they’re interesting, or part of something important. Dan Pink talks in a TED Talk about the puzzle of motivation and mentions these three things about intrinsic motivation:

Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives.

Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters.

Purpose: the yearning to do what we do.

Urge, desire, yearning. Makes me think of the word PASSION.

Passion is a strong human drive.

The extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from outside an individual. The motivating factors are external, outside and rewards. These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide.

MIXING MOTIVATION IN ENDURANCE 

So learning about these two motivation types, I think when doing any endurance challenge you need both. Endurance athletes can be rather ego people. I am talking for myself. This does not have to be a bad thing! Sometimes people confuse determination and ego. I think its a very fine line. You have to be ego to pull it off. The training, the planning, the commitment and all that comes with living this life style. Yes, it is a life style. Determination. Ego. I am saying this in a humble way. But important to the equation, maybe this explains why endurance athletes have a need to do it for a cause. A nice mix between the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. This could explain why I have chosen to run for a cause and raise funds.

WHY FOR A CAUSE?

I have run many kilometers (but never 100k) and I know that when you’re out there and especially on your own wondering what was I thinking you need reminders. Something to hang onto, even if it’s a thin thin line. What is your primal power? The one thing you know will get you through when push comes to shove. For me its our children. They remind me about the wonders and miracles of life, that anything is possible. The love for your children is so overwhelming and so powerful. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. If I can raise awareness about Endometriosis its a way of passing on the miracles I have been blessed with. The need of passing on. To show gratitude.

To add to my challenge (as if 100k wasn’t enough) 12 weeks into my training I decided to raise 100 000 euros in funds for Endometriosis. This is where my conversation started with my brother. Why now? Isn’t wanting to run 100k enough? Apparently not.

JOURNEYS ARE PROCESSES

Well, this is the thing with journeys. They are processes. Micro & macro. Inner & outer. Stepping into week 12/24 training I needed and wanted more meaning. Purpose. But also more confident in my pursuit to pull this off. I think confidence is a key. I know I can do this. Call me crazy, that’s ok. If I can arrive at that start line, run 100km, not only raise awareness but also 100 000 euros to help research – that puts purpose and meaning to my ego.

I would like to be a voice and proof that despite this diagnosis there is hope and happy endings. But more so that YOU can create that contentment and no matter what is thrown your way you can turn it into something positive. If I could, so can you.

THE LOVE FOR ENDURANCE SPORTS

There is a lot of magic in pushing limits and boundaries. Going back to my brother and our conversation. I kept thinking, he has not experienced sports endurance, that feeling of pushing beyond physical limits with the mind. So how could he understand this journey? I am talking really physically pushing. He has another type of endurance. Never compare. But I think those who haven’t been there find it hard to grasp. I have raced plenty of mountain marathons, the one marathon where I pushed beyond the possible was in Trangrancanaria 2015. I learned a lot then. Before, during and after.

LET’S SUM IT UP

– Isn’t the wanting to do a challenge enough to motivate? Yes & No.

– What is your why? If you know the answers to your why, this can feed your motivation.

– There are two types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic – know them and know what works for you.

– The satisfaction of feeling capable, a powerful tool in self worth growth.

– The human being bases most decisions on emotion, some more than others. Are you a logical or emotional in your decisions?

– Motivation is the desire to do things. Determination and ego help us make those desires happen. Action, in other words.

– Journeys are processes. Micro & macro. Inner & outer. One journey can contain so many smaller ones. Overwhelming!

– When push comes to shove you need reminders. Something to hang onto, even if it’s a thin thin line. What is your primal power? The one thing you know will get you through when push comes to shove. And push will come to shove in endurance!

– Doing it for a cause adds purpose and meaning to the ego.

CLOSING WORDS

I am grateful towards those who question my challenge. It makes me grow and become more confident in this challenge Endurance sports is a slippery slope. Once you travel that lane, it’s hard to stop. I guess some people are prone. Some people have the need. Others don’t. Obviously I have the need, how about you?

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

How to make anxiety help instead of hinder

by Kayla Ferguson
Well-Being//

The Surprising Reason Why White-Collar Professionals Love Endurance Sports

by Brad Stulberg
Well-Being//

How to Get Started Running for Your Mental Health

by Sasha Elizabeth Wolff

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.