Creating motivation

I just got back from my first ten-mile run since the injury. Since I took the Richmond marathon off my list of things to do this year, I've lacked motivation. It's nice to think it might be back.

I started this whole exercise thing ten months ago in order to get my head straight. My marriage had crumbled and it didn't look like all the King's horses wanted anything to do with the salvage project. To distract myself, I went to Gold's and signed up with no idea of what I wanted to do, or how I was going to do it. Somehow, I fell into a pattern where I was running and working out five or six times a day.

That pattern more or less continued unabated until my injury in late August, where I sat out for ten days out of fear of doing serious damage to my knee. Admittedly, I've had a hard time sticking with lifting weights at the gym, only because it's been hard to get organized enough to fit into my schedule, which seems to operate according to some sort of video-game logic, getting increasingly more difficult with each passing level. Two weeks ago I went three times, but last week I wasn't available to sneak away from work.

Why is the motivation fading? I don't seem to be as focused on exercise as I was, and that could just be because I've been distracted by work, which is pretty exciting now that some of my stories are ending up in the Daily Progress. I've also been playing guitar and singing for about two or three hours a week, and I'm at a point where I want to begin taking it seriously.

But, the most important reason is that the pain of my marriage breaking up is beginning to fade. In December, that particular nuclear explosion somehow got poured into my body, giving me this intense desire to push myself past the blast.

The radiation's faded quite a bit, and the sun shines again. But, what does that mean for exercise?

I skipped Thursday so I could go see a show. Okay, listen to a show. I took my kids to the downtown mall so we could stand outside the Pavilion so I could hear the Decemberists. Friday was just molten-lava-rock crazy busy with work at Charlottesville Tomorrow and then at Court Square Tavern. Well, the tavern was slow, but it's hard to run on the days when I'm there.

Yesterday, however, I just wanted to be lazy and have a day off. I had to go in to work to finish up a story. I was supposed to go to Blacksburg to see the Tech game, but I decided to save money and avoid pneumonia. I could have gone to the gym or ran, but... I didn't. It was raining, and I was lazy. I admit this.

Because I felt fine. Well-adjusted. More or less happy. No emotional pain to mitigate.

This morning, I felt the same way. Content. Happy that things seem to be okay. With no major running goal on the horizon, it's a little easier to slack off.

I got up at 9:00, and had the same feeling of sluggishness I've since Thursday. I didn't really know if it was worth while to go for a run. I didn't feel like doing it. Couldn't get motivated. 9:00 AM became 9:30 AM, 9:30 became 10:00 AM. I tidied the house to prepare for my kids to arrive. I procrastinated by listening to some of the songlets I wrote two nights ago. Finally, I realized I just had to get out there.

So, I went out. No real destination or length in mind, but I decided to go out on my 7-mile course which takes me from my house to Belmont via the UVA hospital and the downtown Mall. Blissful beautiful Sunday morning in early fall. The smells of the earth are not the smells of the earth when I first left the confines of the treadmill at Gold's Gym. The landscape is winding down after a long summer's day, about to slumber through the winter.

I felt the same way after mile two. Once again, I'd run my first two miles way too fast at an 8:30 pace. I didn't know how far I wanted to go, but I knew I needed to go slow if I wanted to cross ten miles. Of course, I didn't slow down. I picked up the pace, and when I got to West Main Street, I was conditioned and able to run at a comfortably pace for a long run.

There's so much I don't know about running. Another reason I slowed down the training is because I need the money that comes from working at Court Square Tavern on Friday nights, which meant I had to move my long run to Sunday.

I just know that I love it. As I ran up Old Preston onto the Mall, I realized that I've found something that will become increasingly important to me over time, and I can do it on my terms. For my own motivation. These days, I have to motivate myself to run because of the feeling that I'm fully living my life by not neglecting my body. I think back to when I was 200 pounds and I didn't exercise, and how sluggish I felt. How polluted my body would feel. I'm not ashamed of who I was, but I don't want to be like that again.

Is that enough motivation? I'm not sure. I want to be able to call myself an athlete. I think that might be motivation enough.

I want to be athlete because I want the stamina to do other things I really want to do. I want to one day act in a play. I want to front a band again. I want to meet other runners. I want to be able to eat as much as I want and not worry about getting fat. I want to be happy. I want to feel like I can accomplish a goal.

So, on that note, I feel like a runner again after the injury. And, I have a plan of sorts. My goal now is to run the Richmond half-marathon on November 14, as well as two other races. I'm going to volunteer to be a captain for the Men's 4-miler and Charlottesville 10-miler training programs. I'm going to run either the Shamrock at Virginia Beach next March or the next Charlottesville marathon. I'm going to learn how to get faster, how to stay injury-free.

So, this week's exercise schedule, written publicly to hopefully hold myself to it:

Monday: Gym
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: Gym AM, 4 mile run in the PM
Thursday: 4 mile run in the AM
Friday: Gym AM
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Long run

Wish me luck!

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