Mission Motivation, Part 1

With my final race of the year behind me, it’s time for me to focus my energies on building myself through my offseason – all three weeks of it – before re-training for my half at Virginia Beach’s ShamrockFest.

I have spent considerable time in the weight room and fitness center either at my gym in Center City or at my hotel in Dupont Circle and have kept up with the local running clubs in both areas. Hoping to see results soon from weighttraining, for sure. I have my training plans pretty much done for the spring, knowing for sure that I’m set for VAB and Odyssey half marathons, the latter being at home in Philly, quite a relief, because at some point, I imagine other local runners label me a rebel for not running in Philly despite living here.

At our recent runners’ tweetup at Marathon Grill prior to the Philly Marathon, a fellow runner advised me on training via my heart rate and knowing better how to push or hold back based on my HR. I’m definitely going to look into it and see how it may work out.

However, on the mental side, I still have the challenge of keeping myself disciplined, but also my boyfriend Jeff motivated to run in an effort to hold running as an activity that will keep us together. I had sat down with him I believe Friday evening and at Saturday’s tweetup and gotten some information that gives me an idea of how easy or hard it will be in my mission.

I think this is going to be harder for me than I expected.

Let’s lay out why. First I list my goals working with him.

Mission goals (realistic):

1 Maintain running as an activity that keeps us (or helps to do so) together.
2 Schedules permitting, run a 5k, 5-mile or 10k race together.

Mission goals (pipe dream):

3 Schedule permitting, train and run the ODDyssey Half Marathon alongside Jeff in Philly’s Fairmount Park 22 May 2011.

#1 is the one I’d like to tackle the most. #2 will be icing on the cake.

#3 is a pipe dream, but I’m just putting it down here anyway. I would be beyond thrilled if #3 were to ever happen. (Later in this post, I explain why it’s a pipe dream.)

Now, I look at what I know of Jeff’s running history.

(This based on what I recall him telling me; if inaccurate, I imagine he will correct me and I’ll update accordingly)

– Ran as a member of the cross-country (XC) team in high school.
– 5k PR recently (post HS) under 22 minutes; did tell me that getting on the men’s HS team required 19 or lower.
– Longest race distance run: The Crim 10 miler race in Michigan
– Given the above, would have considered and most likely gone running Philly’s 10-miler Broad Street Run with me (except fate dictating my friend to pick the “wrong” date for her wedding)
– Really hates running by himself and enjoys running with a partner or group
– Finally because of his experience with the XC team, I get the impression that hardcore runners (that obsess with times, who is better than whom) scare him from running and he prefers a much more casual approach to running.
– I also get the impression that he associates the half marathon (or greater) distance with aforementioned “hardcore” runners.
– As stated before, he has been intimidated and/or put off by my dedication (and perceived “hardcore-ness”) to running, possibly a behaviour he associates with those that scared him away. This is likely – I don’t put people down or try to boast about times, but I do show an outward enthusiasm and seemingly random “passion” for what I do, and this probably similar for those people.
– Jeff’s dad is a triathlete and has run/competed in countless races, including a half-Ironman
– Currently keeps active when possible, favourite activity is cycling

My schedule will be a major wild card in whether we CAN run together, thus affecting his motivation if we cannot due to me being out of town.

– Offseason training (6-7x per week) for 3-4 weeks, flexible runs nearly any day possible.
– 80-90% travel through end of January, back to sub-25% afterwards, albeit no effect on my ability to train/run individually.
– December through March – 2-3x a week we can possibly run together, as I work later the other days I run, as a result I run way too early in the morning for Jeff

Now the good news here is that I’m NOT starting from scratch. He should know the proper way to train, stretch etc. He’s done this before and so we won’t have any of the “running 101” approaches or his fears of being physically able to perform the tasks. He does keep active when able and willing. And he does have the interest in doing something if he’s got a partner.

Biggest challenge here will be my approach and his resulting attitude due to my approach. Biggest hurdle – in addition to my schedule – is getting him to trust me that I’m not pushing him over the edge. He did mention that as I trained for the Amish Half, I (or my enthusiasm) didn’t “motivate” him, so I’m trying to think how I should motivate him without coming off like his former XC teammates. This might sound weird given our relationship, but considering I’m going to psych myself up as I get closer to ShamrockFest (20 March), I don’t want him thinking that’s going to rub off as I run with him.

I’m going to have to pick his brain more.

I wonder if his father’s motivated him in the past…or heaven forbid it’s been the opposite. Lord, I hope not.

At the same time, the main reason I want to pick a decent 5-10k race in the area is so that he can experience the excitement of race day again with me by his side after putting in the hard work and the time set aside. There are loads of casual runners who run 5ks, I’d imagine this can’t be too intimidating of a scenario. Heck even at the Rothman 5-miler on Saturday, there were loads of people running their first 5-miler, and even at just south of 46 minutes and PRing by 4:4x to boot on my end, I finished in the top-third of the entire pack of 3000 runners. Age group? Top half for sure. I kid you not.

Surely finding a non-intimidating scenario here can’t be too difficult.

Of course, I also have to kill my temptation to get him to run the Odyssey Half (Philadelphia’s spring distance race) with me in Fairmount Park 22 May. I’d love more than anything to motivate him to 13.1 and run the half with him, but I’m pretty sure he’d balk if I made that a goal. At least, based on what he told me, that’s my assumption.

Yet would he be willing to run it with me and make this a fun event? People dress up at this half so maybe we can laugh our way to the finish line…together.

“Running 13.1 doesn’t make one a freak! I can’t tell you how many people just throw themselves in a marathon race and just it for the sheer experience and then never run again!” I want to say. “I run for myself, I’m not going to make you into a monster! I mean, 13.1 is just 3.1 more miles of us running together…we can do this together.”

Jeff, if you’re reading this and if I’m wrong PLEASE TELL ME ASAP!!!! Pretty please!

Bah, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Guess I’ll pull my mind out of the clouds and back to Earth.

Given a 10k or shorter distance, I am also going to assume that even in his present state, he will be able to pull a faster pace than I will be doing so; in a 10k or less, the fastest I can pull are 8:30s so if anything I imagine he would be pushing me. If he’s not in shape as I may have thought (let’s be honest here, the rigours of medical school can wreak havoc on a person) I’m thinking 9:30s at the absolute worst. If slower, no big deal. I just need to know what he paces, so I can work with him a bit more easily.

I’m thinking about his experience running the Crim 10-miler race. If I recall right, he enjoyed running the Crim because it was a beautiful (albeit hilly) course. Broad Street on the other hand I do recall him saying staring City Hall halfway through, downhill route southbound would make the race seem longer than it really is. But then again, I think he didn’t like running the Crim because he ran by himself. I think.

If I could get to the root of his fears, I can cap this mission, but finding the “breaking point” in attitude will be quite difficult. It’s not fear of hills or a tough course, it’s others around him. And here, now, that “other” person will be me. Yes, Jeff is crazy for me, partially because I’m a runner, but on the other hand, my dedication to running makes him think I’m crazy. Talk about a weird paradox.

I’m probably overthinking this, but I also don’t want him to be frustrated with me. That’s my fear, yet a challenge I’m willing to embrace for both of us.

Ah, the work continues. I welcome any tips from anyone at this point.

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