The Connection Runners + [why run?]

It's All About The Want

If I could narrow down all of the objectives I have to teach in a given day, trimester, or year to one manageable, if idealistic, objective, it would be this: To be successful at a given task, a person must have the intrinsic desire to want to succeed.

In other words: If a skill is to be learned, improved upon, or enhanced in any way, a person must bring their own want to the table. They must want to become better.

However, the irony in these statements is that, I believe, cultivating such a feeling is not something that can be taught. Sure, I'd love to have a magical PowerPoint or group project that teaches such an art; it could spit fiery, multi-colored balls of motivation out at various students, and we'd all be left exploding with puppies and rainbows and happiness like in Katy Perry's "Firework" video.

But it can't. This isn't, after all, an episode of Leave It to Beaver or, my other family favorite, Full House.

But there is good news. Albeit something not easily taught, I believe motivation is something that can be learned if we are able to open our eyes to it.

This weekend, while I wallowed in pregnancy-brain despair, I was confronted with two news items that struck me as opportunities - opportunities to learn and to feel inspired.

1) The story of 16-year-old Sami Stoner, a blind high school XC runner.

(source)

Although she was diagnosed with Stagardt's disease, a condition that causes irreversible blindness, Stoner, with the help of her guide-dog Chloe, has continued to run and compete in meets with her cross country team.

Though she's faced obstacles along the way, Stoner's desire to live as normal a life as possible, and to keep on running, is invigorating. She could throw in the towel, take the easy route, but she has the want and the need to keep pushing forward.

2) Coverage from the 2011 NYC Marathon, particularly talk of the elites (Mutai's 2:05:06 course record, Meb's 2:09:13 PR at age 36) and murmurings of a future sub-2 hour race.

(source)

Sure, these guys and gals are elite for a reason. They run fast. But sometimes, I have to remind myself that while they make running looking nearly effortless, each one is working just as hard, if not harder, than I did while earning my own marathon PR. Running may come "easier" to them, but that doesn't make improving any less difficult.

Mutai, Meb, Deen Kastor, Paula Radcliffe, Ryan Hall, all elites - they all have to have the same desire as me, as any runner, to want to be a better runner. That isn't something they were born with necessarily, even if speed is.

Edited To Add #3) I wrote this post, then checked my mailbox and found the newest issue of Runner's World awaiting me. In it, editor-in-chief David Wiley (and a personal crush of mine), talked about the need to feature more "real runners" and mentioned this video. Watch it. I dare you not to be inspired.

This guy has The Want.

But what's that you say? The message in this post is elementary, unnecessary? You already knew this?

Well I thought I did, too. But after contemplating some goals last Thursday, I realized that the only way I'd ever get remotely close to accomplishing them was to start with the want.

I have to truly want to run a sub-4 marathon. I have to want to truly want to cross a half-Ironman finish line. I'm not quite sure that just writing them down in a blog post read by 13 people is enough.

So the question is, do I truly want these things badly enough to devote a good share of my social and family time to accomplish them?

I've never had anyone to teach me the answer to the question, so I have to figure it out for myself. I have to learn from the successes of others to build upon my own ability To Want.

And with that, I'm going to say that the first part, the hardest part, of my training toward those goals is done.

I have The Want.

Now I just have to Go Do It.

Where do you find motivation in your own life to fuel your own Wants?