Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Team Evotri Q&A: What Motivates You?

In addition to the race reports, check-ins, long form essays, and interviews, we're adding something new to Evotri.com, the Team Question. We'll ask a simple question, collect responses from every team member and  share them here. Feel free to join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Without further ado, our first question is, "What is your motivation to train?"

stu on treadmill
Torture Stu
Stu: This may seems strange but I love training in "not perfect." For example, I love to run in rain, cold, extreme hot, or snow. If there is torrential rain in the forecast, I will try to train right in the the middle of it. If the forecast is for -10°F, I'm in! Running in a snowstorm is amazing. I also love to run on the treadmill, with low light, no TV and no music. I call it the "Torture Stu" run. Later in the season when I start to hit the hurt locker, I think back to those workouts in "not so perfect of conditions." All of the above are times I figure others are NOT working out, so I gain an advantage and this motivates me. Anyone can run on a 75°F calm summer day. It's the crazy, off the wall days I love the most. I really think this quote from Muhammad Ali says it all, "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."

JP: I do it for a ton of different reasons- some healthy, some not so healthy.  I am going to be 100% honest because introspection is, in my opinion, only a valuable exercise if you can be vulnerable and open.

What got me in the door? One of the reasons I started endurance sports was essentially an eating disorder and distorted body image.  I was a chubby freshman in high school and felt incredibly self conscious. I grapple with this today and that still drives me to stick with the sport because it shapes my body the way I want it to be shaped. Vain and sad but true. The other reason was my sister's success at running.  She was basically shredding every race she entered and getting incredibly fast. I couldn't be slower than my little sister and I couldn't get faster without training my ass off.  I also figured if she was so go, I might be ok too.  So I headed out the door for my little two mile jaunts in the dark.  I ran at night as it was really peaceful and no one could see me.

What made me stay? Several things:
  • Endurance sport allows you to get deep into your own head.  It allows for a lot of alone time which, as more of an introvert, I really love. 
  • I like how racing for me is like holding a mirror up and seeing what my guts look like.  I found out early that I looked pretty pathetic and cowardly when the mirror was held up.  I didn't like that so it's been a project of weeding out mental weakness race by race. I like the mind game of racing a lot.
  • The feeling of floating when you are super fit and you feel like you can push as hard as you want.  You feel invincible.  If I could bottle that, I wouldn't be living in a 900 sq ft apartment.
  • Being outside. God made a good thing and it's cool to be out in it.
Matt's view
Matt: After a PR at Ironman Austin 70.3 last fall,  I got lazy throughout the winter. Especially with my swimming and biking, but I was running injury free for the first time consistently and was loving it, so I continued to rack up the miles.  At the turn of the new year I re-focused my energy back to triathlons, all with the goal of bringing peak fitness into the American Triple T in “Bigfoot Country”, Ohio. A weekend jam packed with triathlons, ice baths, and less than ideal hotel bed comfort. JP and I are competing as a team throughout the grueling three-day, four-triathlon event. My training has been more consistent than ever, with the help of a proper training schedule and structure from my good buddy and coach at HUB Endurance, Andy Sweet. I have noticed a major boost in fitness across all disciplines. My bike power continues to improve, my swim is and always seems to stay in good form regardless if I train it or not, and lastly my run, which has become the backbone of my tri-racing the past year.

Michelle: I had to think about this question for about five minutes. It was that easy. But, getting it down on paper has taken about five days! Three simple things come to mind:
  1. GET INTO MY PANTS! Eating is a fabulous thing and I highly recommend it. Eating daily dessert, bagels laden with peanut butter and jelly, pastas and cream sauce are some things I don't so much recommend. Unfortunately, I love them all. Some days I literally train just to consume the calories that I've shoveled or will be shoveling into my gut. Not the best or smartest reason to get motivated to train, but it's TRUE! 
  2. CHECK IT OFF MY LIST I've said this before. I'm a list girl; live by and love my lists! If it's on my list, it has to get done. It's really that simple. I don't over think it or let my head get in the way. Just do it! Nike would be proud!
  3. WINNING! Yes, I said that. Call me a beyotch if you like. But, it is true. I want to win when I race. How am I going to win? Train. And train consistently. LOOKING at the treadmill or the trainer isn't going to make that happen. If I'm not training for a reason, there is no reason to train. (Wow, I'm impressed! That sounded pretty profound!)

Sarah reading the hours away.

Sarah:  My overarching motivation to train and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle is to be there for my family as long as possible. It’s no secret that many of my family members were dealt some bad cardiac genes. Many of them are overweight. I have had cholesterol  numbers that have bordered on high for the past 15 years. Training and exercise in general have made me a more confident, focused, and patient person (and mother!).  I am a naturally high-strung person, and getting in a good workout calms my body and mind in ways that I can’t always articulate. My secondary reasons for training are that it makes me a better person, it helps me to set a good example for my family, friends, and patients, and it gives me the stamina to chase after a toddler on a daily basis. The above reasons don’t always get me out of bed when my alarm goes off in the morning, though, or get me out the door once Henry’s in bed for the night. Signing up for races is one of the easiest ways to motivate myself. If all else fails, I rely on my husband, a fellow triathlete, to keep me motivated. I’ll ask him the night before to kick me out of bed when my alarm goes off in the morning, or if I tell him I’m going out for a run or to the basement for a ride, he’ll point out if I’m stalling.

Sara: My motivation to train is to be the best version of me possible.  What that means is there are a few versions of me:  stressed out me who yells at everything and throws stuff, super chill but sluggish me who bonds with the couch, overwhelmed me who tries to do way too many things, and then zen me who knows the world around me is going at 110 miles per hour but doesn't seem to care.  I'd like to be zen me as much as I can, which is why I try to do at least a little something every day.  I want my kids to continue to see me living an active, physical, healthy life.  I love that they imitate my "exercises" and try to do planks and downward dogs and pedal as fast as their little legs can go on their two-wheelers.  Zen me knows that to teach full-time while raising two preschoolers and be a good wife, mother, and friend is a balancing act like no other, so in order to do that, I need to sweat it out a little bit every day.  I love to push myself in the pool in the early hours of the morning and get to work feeling a little tired but like I can conquer the day.  I enjoy breaking up a marathon grading session with a quick ride outside.  And of course, I love to go out on date night and have a delicious Hoegaarden and a big fat burger knowing that those 12 miles I ran in the morning with my girl friends as the sun came up balances all--well, at least most-- of that out.  The races are just the icing on the cake, and to me I love to look at races as almost a celebration of all the work and early mornings and quick but purposeful training sessions that I squeezed in to get to that starting line.

Rob's CD0.1 on the trainer.
RobbyB: When I first got into triathlon, there was "the finish line." The finish line represented my motivation to race for 140.6 miles, swim/bike/run for months on end, endure countless hours of pain, and to tell friends, family, and others, "I can't, I have to train." That all ended once I crossed that line. From that point forward it quickly went to "Now what?" followed by "I can't go back. I can't be like I was. This is too much fun." And so my motivation at this point has been to prevent the past from catching up to me. The past me would not be a good dad, he would not be a good person, and especially not a good example to others. I lace up the shoes, straddle the bike, and jump into cold water because it allows me to get out and share good times with others, hopefully encouraging them to do the same.

Chris: It's sometimes disheartening to me that most people don't "get" great literature and poetry. I don't mean "get" in the cold, analytical, academic-sense. We academics have done more harm than good in terms of helping society as a whole gain a better appreciation for a poem or a play or a novel. Many academics that study literature -as opposed to those who create it- focus on ever-narrower ways of interpreting and dissecting poetry and prose. Yes, knowing how to do a post-modern, feminist analysis of a piece of literature can increase appreciation among a certain literati-geek subset of people, but that sort of thing is only further off-putting for the average Joe.

The real, deep, value of literature and poetry lies in its unique ability to help us to make sense of ourselves and our interactions with others. Being human is a singular experience- we can never really know what is like to be someone else, but a poem, song, or novel can help bridge that gap to the "other".

I often turn to literature and poetry to help me understand the big questions in life. Understanding what motivates me to participate in endurance sports month after month and year after year and now decade after decade is certainly one of those big questions. Anyone that has followed my blog for a few years will have noticed a pattern that my more philosophical posts that try to get at the concept of "The Goal is the Journey" usually lead with (or contain) a quote from outside the sporting world. That is the sense-making ability of literature in action. The question at hand: "What motivates you?" is fundamental to both success and longevity in sport. Continue reading Chris' thoughts on his blog...

Tracy: Training motivation has been a long evolving process for me. When I first started, I needed rigid structure in my life, which training for three sports at the same time pretty much guaranteed. The comfort the structure provided was cathartic, and first served as the motivation I needed to continue, but after Ironman, things shifted. I didn't need that rabid structure anymore, so my motivation for training became more about quiet time in the day, usually waaaaay before the rest of the world woke up. I suppose my motivation to train now leans toward the latter, but with the added endeavor of also trying to keep up with my kids! For the first time in my life, I completely understand the extra long exhale my dad would make getting up from the couch, or why he braced a forearm on one knee when he'd bend down to pick something up--when your kids are a certain age, and you're super busy with work and family, exercise can sometimes fall by the wayside. Let me tell you what, if it does, the years and the miles catch up to you in a hurry. So, these days, with a 24-7 schedule and ALL the mom activities that go along with it, my motivation for training is to stop the world for an hour each day, as well as to assure myself that I keep pace once it starts up again.

Charlie: I think my biggest motivation to train has to do with health. My family has a very strong history of heart disease, and exercise is at the foundation of preventing or treating the risk factors. I love to eat good food, and working in the health care field, I see the broad spectrum of disease caused by too many calories in and not enough calories out. Exercise is also a great stress reliever for me - I feel better, I have more energy, and I sleep better when I'm exercising. Ultimately, I'm hoping to set a good example of a balanced, healthy lifestyle for my daughters and, by taking care of myself now, improve the quality of my life in later years.