Why I am running this weekend (and it's not just for the sticker)!

The last few days before a big race I always experience a roller coaster of emotions.

First I start to feel excited and get rushes of adrenalin every time I even think about the upcoming race. I swear the slightest reminder of the race totally distracts me and all I can think about is running for like an hour!

Then I start to feel nervous and worried that I am not ready. I begin to question every single training plan decision that I have made up until that point. Was my longest run long enough? Should have I started training sooner? Should I run slower? Or faster? Maybe I should sneak just one more short run in tonight? The self-doubt goes on and on.

I also start to feel sad that I am not going to be training anymore. What goal can I POSSIBLY accomplish now that I have run a full marathon? This one sounds weird and caught me off guard the first time I experienced it. If you have trained for a race before then you understand the strange "Now what?" feeling you get a few days after the big race is over. No more training plans to diligently follow, no one asks you how your training is going, and after a few days even the soreness goes away. It's kind of an isolated feeling that is hard to explain.

Here's where motivation comes in.

As I struggle with the management of these emotions, I always focus on my motivation for running. When I get too excited, too nervous or start to get sad, I always think about why I run. For me, running a marathon is not easy (I like to think that it isn't easy for many people, but who knows!). I would never be able to run 26.2 miles if I didn't strategically plan for months ahead of time, spreading out long and short runs, gradually increasing distances, and practicing mental toughness.
It is HARD work for me.

So for all of this to come to fruition, I need motivation. This year I have more motivation than I have ever had before. I am running for two big reasons:
  1. I hate cancer. I am running because I can, and that is not something everyone can say. Earlier this year I lost a friend to brain cancer. Recently another friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and she is fighting hard. When I get tired of running this weekend I am going to look down at the rubber bracelets I am wearing in their honor during the race. I CAN run, so, I WILL finish.
  2. My kids. I want my three children to see that they have a strong mama. A mom who isn't a natural athlete, who didn't play traditional sports in high school, and who didn't even start running until her thirties. But, I want my kids to see that with dedication and hard work, all things are possible.
My struggles with running are usually in my head (literally). Rarely does my body give out before my brain does. I like to say that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to getting by the mental block that 26.2 miles creates.

I hope in managing these emotions and focusing on my motivation that this weekend will be another incredible goal I will accomplish.

What emotions do you struggle with? What motivates you to run? Comment below!

(this was originally published on the IMD Des Moines Marathon blog)

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