A friend asked me yesterday how I run as much as I do. I answered: I love running and good health. Also, I have a marathon next month! The last reason is likely what’s motivating me to run the most right now. But, it also made ME think, what IS my motivation to run?
Health and fitness interest me, and always have. I can’t think of a time period since high school when I didn’t have motivation to participate in running, swimming, cycling, weight training, etc. Don’t think of me as an exceptional athlete by any means. Yes, I am somewhat “competitive,” but never was an elite athlete! I recently attempted for two years to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but came up short by two minutes.
My Running Motivation
Isn’t it enough that fitness helps me to challenge myself physically and mentally on a continuous basis? That I am fitter, “younger,” happier than I would be otherwise? And, I am blessed with countless good friends who love running, are fit, and have added so much to my life? These are are sufficient reasons!
Yet, I am physically driven, and my motivation is always present. When I was young, I’d run extra before or after a cross-country practice while in high school. I’d go to the gym when others slept, were hung over, or had other plans. Being “physical”, a motivation to run, has always been in me. I can’t explain it, but am grateful for it. I don’t have the motivational struggle that some others do to “get out the door” or “stay on the fitness wagon.”
However, strong drive and motivation can have a negative side. The classic “A-type” personality forgets to enjoy the process, gets injured with blind focus on a goal, and makes friends/family members feel that they are secondary to a fitness goal. This was an issue before for me, but I do think I have learned to better manage it.
Cancer taught me to better manage that. At age 32, I had cancer. A form of ovarian cancer had grown rapidly, but fortunately, had not yet spread. To many of my friends, family (even me), I was the picture of health. I ate well, exercised, all those things. But, I had cancer.
While the 1996 Summer Olympics went on here in Atlanta, I had surgery to remove the tumor, followed by two more surgeries. I had 21 chemo treatments, felt ill, lost all my hair, and hated the smell of food. I often sat in a chemo room where most women were 30+ years older than me. Four months of hell, if you will. Yet, I was fortunate in that my treatment was successful, and almost 23 years later, I am still cancer-free.
What I Learned
Having cancer doesn’t make you wise beyond your years, or keep things in perspective forever. Not by a long shot, but my motivation to run and be healthy is ever sharper. But, I am more conscious of the decisions I make, and I’m more appreciative for what I have. I try not to live my life on someone else’s terms, nor obsess too much over other people’s opinions. But, I’m still far from perfect!
I am “work in progress,” but I am making progress. Running (and my other fitness loves) are a big part of that progress. I’m thankful for being able to run, to be physically able, to be healthy, to have made life long friends, and maybe even look a year or two younger than my actual age. 😉