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What threatens your motivation?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Currently, I am on the verge of dropping out of the running scene, stopping running altogether actually. Several things are threatening my motivation and I thought it would be interesting to hear if anybody else wrestles to stay motivated in this sport. Here are my reasons for contemplating dropping out. Not necessarily in order of importance.
1) Pain. My hips KILL. This come and goes but is currently coming like gangbusters. Can't quite figure it out. I wince in pain rising from seating later in the day.
2) Too much time. There are other things I need to do with my time that are important that I'm not doing generally because I sleep in due to being tired from running. This gets to the third point.
3) Relative insignificance. The weekend after completing VT50 last year I attended a conference my organization puts on every year. My colleagues were speaking to a crowd of 1500 people on their most recent book. I realized what they had used their previous year for, and what I had done. I had run around the woods for a year, they had accomplished important things. I quit running for the winter as a result, that and the fact I couldn't walk right for a month after the race due to pain in my feet (Morton's Nueroma).
4) Overkill. I originally started running cause, for one reason, my blood pressure was too high from having a gut and drinking too much. I was a powerlifter, so I was strong, but my CV system was no good. Running definitely took care of that. But, I can lift and do high intensity aerobic stuff and stay fit. I don't need ultrarunning for that.
5) Overkill. I tend to obsess about my hobbies. They become part of my identity, and I tend to burnout on them. Surfing and lifting have stayed with me my whole life, but I'm always on a quest for fun and get wrapped up in my hobbies.

Here are the draws:
1) I love being out in the woods. I've been a backpacker for most of my life and this combines that love and gets me outside.
2) Keeps me svelte. Coupled with pullups,dips, leg raises and back extensions a few times a week, I have total fitness and a body like a model.
3) Runs that border on the euphoric due to a combination of the beauty around me, the right pace, and gratitude in being there.
4) The hope of running in more beautiful places. Last year I ran in the New River Gorge in WV for four hours. It was the highlight of my year last year, and all year I've been looking forward to going back in Aug. this year. I want to run Hardrock at some point just to be out there and experience the course. I once backpacked through the WindRiver range in Wyoming, part of where David Horton is running the Continental Divide trail. It was gorgeous. I want to stay fit enough to be able to do long adventure run/camping trips like that.
5) A correlate to 4: I love adventure. Ultrarunning is an adventure. We get to do mini adventures every long run. I'm surrounded by good trails and parks and can explore and run all around me.

So, that's some of my pros and cons and the things that threaten to derail my running goals. I run more for the experience than any extrinsic goal (this or that race, competition, etc..). Lately, my experiences running haven't been good ones. Last year I almost quit training due to 15 miles shin splits on a long run, which was recurring. This year, 12 miles of hip pain was almost enough to make me call it quits. When pain sets in, all those reasons to quit running become stronger in my mind, the arguments tend to take on more validity, and it becomes harder to remember why I should run.

You may disagree with me or not on specific points, especially on the meaningless of running, but I'm not interested in hearing arguments. I would be interested in hearing from you all if you struggle to keep ultrarunning, have you quit and comeback, how do you stay motivated now, what things lead you to think about quitting running, etc...

Thanks everybody! Let's hear from ya...
post #2 of 28
I agree with you about the time thing. Between work, training and sleeping, alot of my other goals don't get the attention they need. For this reason, I've decided to back off on the ultra's in 2009 and get to work on some things I've been ignoring. That's not to say I won't run, in fact, I'll take it as an opportunity to run some shorter races, like a fast Escarpment, and maybe a Boston qualifier.

As far as the obssession thing, that's the way it's gotta be if you're gonna do the ultra thing. And if your running holds some kind of meaning for you, that's what matters. Don't expect to change the world by running ultra's, 'cause it ain't gonna happen. Most people couldn't care less how far you can run, and if you're in it for approval, you'll more than likely be let down.

You can stay very fit by running 20 miles a week, stay clear of injuries, and have plenty of time for a meaningful life.

Finally, and this is the end of my little rant, I think alot of us ultra runners feel like we've got to prove something. "Look how tough I am", or "See me, I'm sooooo fast". That's a pretty unfulfilling way to walk through life. The point is, none of us need to prove a thing, so do what is best for you, and be happy.
post #3 of 28
Buddo- you love running and you love trail running, but when you increase your training time and your mileage, you are sacrificing time and you often come up injured. What about focussing on shorter length trail races? It's the best of both worlds and in the general area (PA, VA, MD, DE) there are a whole boat load of shorter trial races like Half Wit, Double Trouble, Evansburg Challenge, etc. This way you can still enjoy your running and have goal races and mini adventures, but without sacrificing the time you would rather spend doing other things and spending with your family?

I find ultrarunning balances out the stress of my life and work/owning my business, etc. BUT there is little else in my life outside of work and running. I do not have children and all of my friends i either work with or run with, so i am really not missing out on other social activities. It is very easy for my husband and i to run ultras and travel because we have no children or dogs or other responsibilities. I could not imagine doing this and having children. I also work with two incredible massage therapist and weekly massage sessions keep me pretty pain free as well as regular acupuncture sessions. I also do a lot of cross training which cuts down on injuries and overtraining.

Just keep searching for the right balance for you.
post #4 of 28
I may be in trouble... I already spend more time running (or planning races, etc.) than is probably wise, given my other goals and interests, and I'm doing my first ultra in a month.

No doubt, but for me, if I didn't have something exciting to train for at 50ish mpw, the unhappy fact is I would be too lazy to get out the door for those 20 mpw. I can't run without a goal (beyond just staying reasonably fit).
post #5 of 28
Ah yes, the quandry I experience on a lot of my long runs. I have two young children and a husband whose hobby takes up just as much time, so it takes some talking myself into getting up at 4am on the weekends to get the runs in.

Same thing for me: it's time-consuming, it's hard, my hips hurt, I'm slow, etc., etc. Sometimes I really question why I'm out there. Or why I don't train for a shorter distance.

But alway, ALWAYS, after a really long run, I feel so good about what I've accomplished. And there are those runs where the trail just stays with me and it's all I can think about is when I can get back out there again. Times when I've been on a really nasty, rocky trail that was so hard and I'm such a no talent to be out there walking those climbs, but I can't get that trail out of my head. So while I wonder how long I can keep training like this, I know that I will always be running trails but it may be 10-15 miles, instead of 20 or 30. As Merigayle said, you just have to find that balance.

As for your #3, that's something I've struggled with as well. I really enjoy reading other runners' experiences, how they did this in that race, and here I get timed out on a 50-miler. I have to be really careful in comparing myself to others because there's always someone who can run faster or farther.

You're not alone, I have my doubts constantly. Fortunately, the draw of the trail outweighs my doubts.

Great post!
post #6 of 28
This year I have had every reason in the world to lose my motivation for running. We had a terrible winter in Ottawa with record snowfall. I'm approaching the end of my PhD and I'm busier that I've even been. My marriage was on the rocks and we finally split last month. And I'm moving across the province in August. For all those reasons my training was very poor this year. January was decent and I had a couple of nice night runs in the spring when the snow melted. But other than that my training was worse than it has ever been.

Despite all that, I've still been motivated to race. I ran a fun 52km race in April, and set a 3.5 hour PR at 100 miles in May. Both races I entered with shamefully low training mileage. The key was readjusting my expectations of myself. Actually, I pretty much eliminated any expectations. I love running intrinsically so much that I entered those races just to have fun. People often sandbag their stated goals and claim to be running just for fun, when really they have a goal somewhere in the back of their mind. I found that I was able to let that go. I think I had to, given how little I had trained (before the 100 miler I calculated that I had run less this year than the amount run by the beginner half marathon training group at the Running Room).

Hmm, so where am I going with this? I guess I just want to say that training for and racing ultras are different things, as long as you're willing to set your goals appropriately. My PR was a nice surprise but I'm probably not going to set any other records this year. But I do get to have fun at races and I've left myself enough time to deal with all the other stuff.
post #7 of 28
As someone who has participated in many all-encompassing activities (read: obsessive) over the years....mountainbike racing....climbing....skiiing...music...I strongly believe that when the motivation wears thin, taking a break is a good thing.

I run because I enjoy being in the woods. The day that I stop enjoying it, is the day that I will drop it for another interest. Whether I come back to it or not is not on my radar. I will do what I do.
I have found that taking a prolonged break from an activity is good for the soul....when you get back to it, you appreciate it more & often you will find improvements (this certainly held true for rock climbing). I do find that my own motivation dwindles...typically around November when the weather sucks, racing is over, & the days are short. I don't fight it & I'll take a micro-break....sometimes a couple of weeks, & even as much as a month or two. No running at all. When tha New Year comes, I am amped & ready.

Selfishly speaking Mark, it would totally suck to not have you around here...but it would be understandable. You still good for a run sometime this summer?
post #8 of 28
Thanks muddy. I'll still be around the site and I'm definitely up for a run this summer. Just give me a shout when you're in town.
post #9 of 28
Ok, since I try to talk myself out of competing/running all of the time this may help you or not.

I will run a fun marathon in Vegas/Rachel in the dead of summer, yeah call me stoopid or whatever, it sounds like too much fun.
I do not run 50 milers as of yet, but I do have my 1st 50K at the end of this year and 2 marathons and a couple of trail runs to keep me busy. I have 3 kids, husband and 4 cats, so go figure on time management. Plus I work pretty much F/T. I run for mental health and being fit. There is no other reason really.

If you are truly fried and tired of Ultras/marathons, then go for shorter distances. Do not quit. It is like quitting a very good anti-depressant due to the endorphinal surge you get each and every time you run.
post #10 of 28
I didn't think running had to be justified via pros and cons. For a running fool like me, any distance is wonderful. You might be having to re-think things because of injury, so a stronger base and running injury-free would improve your outlook. As to the relative importance of achievements in career versus avocation, I'm sure we've all faced it at some point. My contention is that it's the same old stuff each day. Unless of course, your giving up running results in winning a Nobel Prize.

Hope you make the right choice.
post #11 of 28
I run because its fun... when I stop having fun... then and only then is my motivation to continue running compromised.
post #12 of 28
I run 3 days or 4 days a week MAX,I average 25 MPW. I could care less what my times are (granted to run a 7 hr 50 miler you need to train you butt off), I just like to go as I feel. So far this year 4 ultras, and 33 total. I havn't run 50 MPW in 25 years.

Summary if you do several long days or race every other month (acts as a base) you can do up to 50 miles no problem.

I have been on this sort of training about 10 years since I started Ultras, with zero real injuries.

In my wednesday running group there are 2 guys that run twice a week but still are capable of doing 50 trail miles,despite being 60 and 65 years old.Granted they both used to run 100"s and silver buckled at Western 7 times between the 2.

Its just a matter of are you willing to "run" 50 miles in 10-11 hours.
post #13 of 28
A part of what you are experiencing is "burnout".

I caught it in 2007, but refused to realize it until it was too late. I had a terrible year trying to figure out if I wanted to continue road racing / trail racing. I knew I couldn't have the best of both worlds. Financially it didn't make sense, and being away from my wife(Pam) as much as I was in 2006 racing all over the place didn't make sense anymore. Some can do it!!! So, I quit the road and focused entirely on trail running and I'm that much happier for it. When I go out the door now, I don't have to say, "I wonder where I'm going to run today?" I already know. And head for my favorite trail.
post #14 of 28
I don’t think you’ll find anyone hear who will say give up running but do what is best for yourself, one comment that always sticks in mind is when I was describing training and running Ultra’s to someone they replied by saying wow isn’t there something more productive you could be doing with your time. I simply said sure but what are you doing at 5:30 in the morning sleeping? My life is a bit crazy already with three young children so running is my only personal time away from household responsibilities and work, I treasure the moment and have trouble just tapering for a race but I do have low mileage months where I focus on speed work and months where I'm just not that motivated. Sounds like you have the passion for running, take it slow, rest those injuries & see where the road takes you.

Happy trails….
post #15 of 28
My point when I brought up my training was just to suggest that you can do longer races if you like on low training.

I guess why is the choice being obsessed by running or being completly sedentary?
post #16 of 28
I understand your questions about this sport. I run because I always need a goal in my life and running marathons and ultras (well, i've only done 2 ultras) is a great way to set goals and feel good about finishing. Many times my training suffers because of "life" but that's okay with me. I've never yet gone into a race (or run) feeling completely prepared. I go with the flow too much to ever be good at this sport....but I do love running - I love the feeling of being in the woods, the feeling of doing something that most people can (will) never do and I like being around other people motivated enough to run long distances. I'm inspired to run by many of the people reading and posting here. I hope I never experience burn out enough to quit. When I start to feel that way, I just read a few posts here. Good luck. alison
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
Interesting responses. A few of you seem to have struggled in this regard, and to some this thinking seems foreign. I feel like I need to justify my running because it's just a hobby and, philosophically, the unexamined life is not worth living. "Know thyself"-Socrates.Family and service to others is more important to me so how much time I put in to my hobby shouldn't be excessive. Queston is, what is excessive. 10 hrs a week? 6? I will never be sedentary as I feel I have a responsibility to take care of my body, and I enjoy exercising and fitness.
It's hard to believe I'm burned out, as I only started retraining again in March after laying off all winter. My miles are only around 30-35 right now. The fun factor definitely disappears at times. I arise at 3:30 to do my long runs on Saturday morning and sometimes that's not fun, but usually pain is the biggest impediment to fun that makes me question why I'm doing this. I dunno. We'll see. I'm thinking of doing two ten milers, one T and one Th, then my long run on Sat of 15-20+, depending on my proximity to races. That equals out to 8 hrs or so. If I were lifting weights, powerlifting, that would eat 6-7 hours a week so they're close. Cross training on top of running takes that number to 10 hrs a week. I'll just keep searching for the balance. Anybody else struggle to stay motivated? How about you longtimers? Ever quit and come back to ultrarunning after a long layoff?
post #18 of 28
Okay- I guess I'm a longtimer running, if not ultra running. When I was in college in the 70's (yeah everyone had mustaches and funny hair and clothes), I would run for awhile and then lay off for months at a time. Then I decided to run a marathon so I trained for about 3 months, ran the race in October and took the winter off. It went like this for about 4 years, before I decided to run every day and then I just did. There have been years that I just did about 1500 miles and others 3000 plus, a big range of time commitment and fitness level. Work has taken up my time, small children, family issues. It's all part of life. Through it all, running has been a constant and a mental and physical benefit. It's a hobby that feeds out obsessive sides, provides fitness and a community of support, allows us to set and strive for goals. I love the feeling of being at the pre-race briefing at a 100 miler and seeing all the other runners. I feel a part of that.

But yeah, it takes up leisure time, lots of time. If I didn't run, I would have much more free time. My yard would look better; my car would be cleaner. I might be better at my job, more accomplished. I might write that great novel that's in my head or give more to the community. It might well be better for the world. But I'm sure I would not be happier. But I do tell people who inquire about the time and commitment that running ultras is definitely not for everyone. Plenty of people can live happy productive lives without running a step or in keeping their exercise on the moderate side. It just serves my needs and interests to run far.

So, I understand the need to quit and attend to other aspects of your life and I can envision many doing this and returning to ultra running, and my own running has ebbed and flowed somewhat, but at this point in my life, I love it. It gets me out of bed in the morning, even pre-dawn, with a smile and anticipation of enjoyment.

I wish you well in your choices. Good post.
post #19 of 28
If you have killing pain you're probably not having fun and having fun is the big motivator, at least for me.

I've never got burned out on endurance sports after over 20 years I think because I do something different every day as a multi-sport person: paddling, biking, swimming, triathlon, running, xc skiing etc. (jack of all trades and master of none!). Also I've been lucky to avoid chronic injuries.

Adding in kids and professional career and do-it-yourself projects means a very busy schedule, but those things force me from overtraining and burnout.
post #20 of 28
For me, the social aspect is the biggest motivator to keep running ultras. I know, if I stopped going to races, I would miss all the great people I have met over the 3 years since I started running. Sometimes I think even if I didn't run anymore, I would still go to races as a volunteer just because they are so fun and I love the people. I can see how, if someone didn't have a lot of friends at races, then it would be hard to keep motivated. My advice is, if you keep running, try to make some friends in the ultra community. Join a running club, if one is in your area. If you are in New England, the GAC is a great one. Ultra people are super and usually extremely friendly. Having friends and knowing people at races makes going to ultras a lot more fun, and it will give you a reason to keep wanting to train.
post #21 of 28
Dude, you did the VT50 in sandals. How can you possible be wondering why your hips hurt. You need to lose the minimalist approach and get on the bandwagon or do like you say and stop running. Some people may be able to do that shit but most can't. I'm not trying to harsh on you. Get yourself a good pair of shoes give your body a rest and go at it again and see how you feel.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Tell me how you really feel dude.
I thought about that too. I did some reading on hip pain. One noted cause is overpronation. So, on Saturday, I wore my normal shoes, my old runing shoes with the elevated heels. I rolled my ankle within the first mile, and had to be careful the rest of the run, but my hips felt good. However, I was using a hydration packpack instead of my two bottle hip belt thing so not sure which was the source of relief. Got some nice blisters though as my feet slid around inside my coffins.
There's warrant to what you're saying, and I'm actually doing just what you're suggesting. I'm resting now, and will try to build up a little more slowly in the coming cycle. Well, resting is relative. I squatted, deadlifted, cleaned, and chinned in the gym today. I guess I should say I've taken a few days off from running.
post #23 of 28
The correct shoes are a hit or miss thing. I went through a few hundred dollars worth of Salamon, North Face and InoV8's before settling into Brooks Cascadia 3's. Where do you run? Aren't you from the Eastern PA area? Again dude, I was in no way trying to harsh on you, just trying to help.
post #24 of 28
Your for sure wearing the wrong shoes if you describe them as "my feet slid around inside my coffins". I really think your just on the wrong track searching for the right path.
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hey, I know you're not being mean. No worries.
I live in Amber, outside Philly. I train mostly in the Wissahickon Gorge, part of the Fairmount Park System. I also run the Green Ribbon trail quite a bit. Sometimes on my lunch break I run in Tyler State Park in Richboro. The Wiss is pretty rocky with lots of ups and down (go figure, it's a gorge). I had my eye on LaSportiva Fireblades. I tried on a pair of Casscadia's. They fit like slippers. Felt like I had sponges on my feet though. My "normal" shoes are New Balance 850's, trail runners. It's hard for me to find shoes that fit just right as I have high volume feet, leading to a tight-across-the-middle fit. When I find one that's comfortable in that spot, it's usually too long. If I shorten the size, its' too tight width wise. Will keep looking. Thanks for your comments. I really think it's mostly an overtraining thing, too much too fast, and if I back off and rebuild I might have more success. I'm not certain by any means.
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