Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Serious Runner?

Sometimes motivation comes from the unlikeliest of places. I never thought that I'd find my greatest running motivation in months at work. I've been coasting along with my running since the Cape Cod Marathon in October. I pushed myself just enough for 6 weeks to train for the Hyannis Half a few weeks ago. Afterward I went back to running when I felt like it for how long I wanted to.

Then a few days ago a man who delivers our aprons and coats at work came in and took me from my comfort zone with some well placed ignorance. He was there to collect donations for his daughter's running of the Boston Marathon. My friend of 20 years, Maui, mentioned to this man that I was also a runner. The man, most likely over 70, asked me how much I ran per day. He mentioned his daughter ran 15 miles per day. It made me wonder why if she was such a great runner she needed sponsorship to get into Boston. That's a thought for another day. Anyway, I mentioned that I have tried to stick to 20-30 miles per week unless I'm training for a race. Then he said the following:

'Oh so then you're not that serious of a runner.'

Not serious?

I had a fire in my eyes as if he had just insulted my family, or my manhood. I seethed as I thought of all of my races I had run in just 2 years, all of the miles of training. I had more fire as I thought of all of the injuries I had accrued over the same period of time. Only a serious runner would have kept going. Someone who was not serious would have felt the pain of the first pulled muscle and gone back to the elliptical machine at the gym. How do I know that? Because I did that very thing when I first tried running over 5 years ago. Long story short, I ran 3-4 miles with no prior experience, and no stretching, and pulled almost every muscle in both legs. The next day I was back to my elliptical at my gym not to give running another thought for almost 3 years.

So, yeah, I've been a non-serious runner before, and I consider myself pretty serious now.

Anyway, the man seemed to notice the anger he had caused and quickly took his donation sheet and vacated my area. In reality he was probably just not thinking when he doubted my dedication to running. In my mind though it was a slap in my face for all I had done and done to myself through running. Injuries yes, but also a huge swell of self-confidence, a loss of 40 lbs, these things came from running.
My reaction was to forget skipping working out because I was and go run 8 miles.  That wasn't enough though. I followed it up by running over 14 miles the next day on the hilly east end of the Cape Cod Rail Trail. That run being the longest since the marathon, oh and my body felt it too, I wanted to stop and lie down at times. Anytime I felt like stopping because I was tired I just thought of that man saying I wasn't serious and it kept me going. Thank you sir for your words of doubt, you snapped me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I'll see your daughter at the Boston marathon next year but without needing charitable sponsorship to get there.

Have any of you found motivation in an odd situation like this one? If a non-runner doubts your dedication, or whether you're a serious runner, does it bother you the way it did me? What in your minds makes you a 'serious' runner? Is it a number of races? Miles? Running with injuries, or being injured but not quitting?