On the runDisney site they have a place where you can tell them why you run and maybe they will tell your inspirational story on their site or on facebook or twitter (https://www.rundisney.com/why-do-you-run/) . It is an interesting thing to think about – for many runners that have done more than one marathon I get the feeling it is a question they don’t ask themselves very often – they just run, it is part of who they are. For first time long distance runners this is maybe more clear as they had to have a reason to start training for one of these events and that reason will be more in the front of their minds.
So I thought about why I run – I have completed 7 full marathons at this point – 4 of them at Disney World with 3 of those as part of a Goofy Race and a Half Challenge and when I tried to come up with why I have done what I have and why I continue to run I couldn’t come up with a quick off the cuff answer that really seemed right. I knew at that point that I had to sit down and write out my thoughts and try to really understand my motivation – going into a 4th Goofy Race and a Half Challenge I am going to want to know the answer to this question when I am getting out of bed at 6am on a Sunday to go run in the cold and the snow for another training run.
In the end what I wrote was too long for the character limitations of the form on the runDisney site so I shortened it quite a bit for them and I would think it lost some of its depth and maybe impact as well. Because of that I thought I would post the full extent of what I originally wrote in hopes that maybe someone will read it and get something out of it.
Why do I run?
That is a good question – it is one I have tried to answer for myself before (like while standing, freezing on the highway in snow and freezing rain waiting for the 2010 Donald Half Marathon to start), but the answers I have come up with before always seem to be missing something.
Some of the recurring answers that always pop to mind are things like:
Lose weight / get in better shape – that is one of the reasons I did originally start running several years ago, to augment the weight lifting I was doing, but it really doesn’t explain why I keep doing marathons and Goofy Challenges.
The competition – I do find I run faster on race day for sure, but I learned long ago that with weight training and long distance running, it isn’t about what the other guy can do but what you did this week, versus the last.
Goal setting and finishing what I started – there is something there – I am a bit of a planner and I love seeing the plan through and making it happen but I could get that same satisfaction out of planning and executing things that take less time and effort as well.
Because it surprises people or they don’t think I can do it – I don’t like to be underestimated so I am sure there is ego that plays into this. And frankly my running does surprise people – 6’2” and anywhere between 215 and 260 pounds depending on what marathon or race I was running at the time. But again there are easier ways to surprise people than running marathons and the desire to surprise someone isn’t likely to drive you to run 26.2 or 39.3 miles more than once.
To see how much better I can get – This will be in there for sure but I don’t think that truly captures where I am mentally when I run or when I am getting myself psyched up to do a long training session.
Family – the extra energy I have now that I have lost around 40 pounds and showing the kids a better role model and showing the importance of exercise is massive but is it what drives me? It isn’t why I got into running in the first place as I hadn’t even met my wife when I started training for my first race but it is part of what keeps me going now. But I’m not sure just showing the significant benefits of exercise to the family is the whole picture either.
Don’t limit yourself – this is huge – and it’s not just an ego thing like just seeing how much better I can be or if I did better than person X, this is something internal. Most of us have some kind of limits placed on us whether it is by our jobs or other people but I think I have finally come to understand that the worst limits placed on us we put on ourselves. And I want to bust through those mental barriers.
I have battled a weight problem on and off for years and had it mostly tackled a few years back before I met my wife and we had kids but as time progressed and the lack of sleep accumulated the weight issue came back. I kept running trying to get the weight to come off and in that period I ran the Disney World full marathon in 2008 and the Goofy Challenge in 2010 and 2012 but never really accomplished my goals with those races. That is the training never really led to weight loss and I was very frustrated with my lack of progress.
So when my wife and I finally decided I should try the 2013 Goofy Challenge I knew something had to change. So I looked again at everything I had been doing and realized that I was just going through the motions – I wasn’t properly training or really focusing on what I should be doing and just in general not respecting the distance or myself the way I should.
This is when it finally clicked for me that I was the one placing the limits on the running and progress I should have been making. At that point the marathon training really started to click and the weight loss started to occur. And I have been able to continue that – since the 2013 Goofy Challenge I have continued to improve and gotten my half and full marathon times (and weight too) down to the rough neighborhood of where they were about a decade ago. At this point I think most would wind down and not keep putting themselves through the training but I keep going because stopping feels like I would be limiting myself (not that I’m not tempted some days).
I was hesitant about doing the 2014 Goofy Challenge as well as it might have been a bit better financially to take a year break from it but that also felt like I would be limiting myself – mostly because it would be almost a year between full marathons (last was Manitoba Marathon in June 2013 and next planned would be June 2014)and it would be too easy to get complacent and limit myself again.
So if you combine all the above, what I get is a way to show my kids, even though I have never won a race in my life and I am unlikely to ever do so, I still keep going because quite frankly I want to and I won’t let my ego or internal doubt tell me I shouldn’t.
And I think that is why I started blogging about my training and weight loss at here biggoofyrunner.com – I wanted to remind myself of how far I have come, how I have gotten past barriers that I had placed before and that I have goals I am shooting for. The blog then becomes a way for me to show my kids that I do what I do for a reason and that if they work hard and keep their goals in mind they can too and that sometimes to reach your goals it takes time. In the end, the blog also allows me to share that thought and my progress with others and if anyone hits my site looking for some inspiration to break out of a rut maybe they will find it and break through their own barriers.
So with just a bit less than 4 months to go to the next Goofy Challenge I am down 35-40 pounds from my weight for the 2012 Goofy Challenge and my full marathon time is down about an hour and half as well.
Looking forward to see what barriers I breach for the 2014 Goofy Challenge.