The training journey towards and particularly the last few weeks and then days approaching raceday, evoke a lot of doubt, self-reflection and thought as to why you’re running, whether you’ll make your goal time, whether you’ll even finish the race at all.
To counteract those thoughts, I find I need to consistently find and explore a variety of motivators as to WHY.
There’s intrinsic (internal) motivation; striving towards a goal for personal satisfaction of accomplishment and those are usually stronger forms of motivation.
There are extrinsic (external) motivators; usually some outside demand, obligation or reward that requires the achievement of a particular goal. Some, like running for the memory of a deceased family member, are very motivating, but if crazy uncle Bob thought you unhealthy and offered you a hundred thousand bucks one Sunday lunch to complete Comrades, it’s unlikely that along would be enough to get you across the finish line.
In my 8 Sleeps till Comrades – It’s not that tough post I spoke about seeking inspiration from those accomplishing even further distances and tougher events than the Comrades. An older post on Comrades marathon inspiration detailed seeking inspiration from amazing people who compete under markedly tougher personal challenges, like Pieter du Preez (quadriplegic), Hein Wagner (blind), and Kevin and Nikki Garwood.
But in thinking more about it, particularly as a privileged white South African I couldn’t help but think about the millions of people locally and around the world who are facing far tougher life challenges every day.
I can put on my kit, go out and voluntarily endure some pain and suffering on a run course, knowing that in a short space of time, I can just hop into my car and head home for a warm shower, in a comfortable home, eat some nourishing food and then rest for as long as required.
In contrast, for millions of South Africans, every day is an uphill battle of keeping warm, earning money, staying fed, trying to provide the best life they possibly can for their kids and navigating the many myriad obstacles life continues to throw at them. It’s not fun (as a lot of our running is) and more importantly, isn’t voluntary.
They can’t just finish the run and go home. The hardships of life largely dictate where they need to go to next and when.
I’ve seen countless people on cold early morning runs in the dark in May, making their way to work, while I am able to run.
So while I’m feeling very proud of the fact I’ve got this far, I’m going to try my level best not to be too self-focused today.
I’m going to think about how fortunate and privileged I am to have the means to have bought the kit I need, visited the physios I have, made the trip down to Pietermaritzburg and stay in comfortable accommodation. I’m also going to think about how fortunate I am to have been able to take the many hours I’ve needed to put in the required training.
I’m going to think about my healthy, well-nourished body and about my home, my family and those that support me.
It really is a massive privilege to be able to run the Ultimate Human Race.
Now I’m going to go out and enjoy it.