I've been trying to figure out how to put my current thoughts about motivation into words, so bear with me as I attempt to make some sense of it.
We sometimes are asked, "What motivates you to (be a student/save money/skip dessert/exercise instead of visiting with friends/et al)?" I would guess that most people have one big answer (to get a better job/to go on a dream vacation/to make my body healthy/to make my body stronger/et al), but I'm discovering that others are found along the way.
In my 20s and 30s I'd lose weight to have a more attractive body, but at 40 I'm losing weight because I want the second half of my life to be the best it can be. I see people just 10 years older than me struggling to do the most basic things, and I don't want to be like that. I want to be like Carol, a woman in her 50s who used to run every day on campus, or my 60-year-old doctor who runs 4 times a week "because [he] still can." I don't want to hire someone to help me get dressed or use the bathroom because I chose to watch T.V. instead of stretching and strengthening my muscles. As a nursing home volunteer, I saw so many healthy people who needed help because they had given up, and as you get older, there's no going back once you've given up. It's too late. Your body will never be the same.
As I mentioned though, we discover new things that motivate us to keep going. When losing weight it's seeing smaller numbers on the scale or fitting into smaller clothes. It's also when you see evidence that your body is getting stronger and able to do new things. This has been the real outcome of completing the Spartan Sprint. I have never been athletic, never been good at sports. Because of this, my confidence dropped and I've spent my life avoiding sports because I didn't want to embarrass myself or frustrate other people because I couldn't do as well as them. So for me, simply participating in the SR was a huge deal, but making it through to the end was surreal.
I took a step back this past week to really look at what I did. My conclusion is that, if I can do this, then I really can do just about anything I set my mind to because I just did what serious athletes do. Does that make me an athlete? Wait, did I just use "me" and "athlete" in the same sentence? I wouldn't consider myself an athlete yet, but this experience has motivated me to push myself to become one.
I've registered for two more races, both in October: The Super Spartan (8+ miles) and the Spartan Beast (13+ miles). Now that I know what to expect from the race, I am going to push myself hard for the next 6 months with diet and exercise to be as strong and prepared as I can be. I am motivated to do the best I can at these races.
When I approach the starting line, I am going to feel like an athlete. When I cross the finish line, I will know that the second half of my life is going to be even better than the first half.
By the way, in case you were wondering, here are the obstacles from the race:
- At least 15 pits filled with water to move through
- 7 barbed wire obstacles
- 3 obstacles that involved carrying heavy logs
- 2 cargo nets to climb over (10' and 20' heights)
- 2 lakes/ponds to swim across
- 1 log to balance on and walk on to cross a deep ravine
- 1 tunnel filled with sludge to crawl through
- 1 bonfire to jump over
- 2 hurdles to climb over (5' and 8' heights)
- 8+ bales of hay to climb over
- 5+ piles of fallen trees to climb over
- 1 rope climb
- 1 rope climb with wooden frame
- 1 wooden structure to crawl under
- plus a couple more . . .
- TOTAL: 50+