What if these were your pre race instructions:
“You are the one responsible for entering this race, you better be prepared for the course itself. The rocks will have no mercy. I have seen this course rip apart many a “good trail runner.” Mountain Mist is trail running in its finest form. No one is ever let down, just shut down, beaten up, broken and left bleeding. You first timers beware, this course may cause you bodily harm. Even though you have entered the race and paid the fee…YOU CAN STILL BACK OUT! No one will laugh at you, just tell them your family still needs you and you want to continue running in the future, they’ll understand! Otherwise, “know your limits and then completely ignore them.”
Would you still do it?
What if you’ve never done anything like this before?
Would you be scared?
Would you consider backing out?
Essentially these instructions are a seed of doubt. Seeds of doubt are deadly, powerful, they multiply. They have the ability to take over. Take all the preparation and training and time you have put into something like this…..
And squash it like a bug.
But only if you let it.
This morning one of my athletes Donna is somewhere in the mountains of Alabama doing this very race. During this event I am not concerned with what her splits are. The plan was actually quite simple: eat all day long and keep moving forward. There ain’t no powerbars on this course, it’s pretty much all junk food. But a 50K ain’t the Ironman. This race makes the Ironman look like a catered event. Well….. it is.
Our pre race call and texts were more like mother / daughter. Do you have enough warm clothes? Be safe sister. Donna is stepping out of her comfort zone in a major way. As her coach I am too. Training for this was a bunch of volume at the right time, mostly on weekend, with her buddies who have done this before, and who know what’s coming. They took great care of her. she put in the work and more importantly she put in the recovery. When you cover these distances it’s not about how much you got in, it’s how much did you recover after and that may mean 2 days off or at the very least some active recovery.
If not for the body then for the mind. These ultra people are no.freaking.joke. Think Ironman peels you like an orange? Think Ironman turns you inside out? Think Ironman brings you face to face with yourself? Try an ultra. These athletes have gone to places deep inside of themselves….. that they didn’t even know existed, didn’t necessarily want to visit, and even have the guts to return from.
So why the hell would you want to do this???
Interesting that you would ask that.
I gave a presentation yesterday to a group of business guys. One of the topics that came up was motivation. How to find it and sustain it. I was asked a specific question about it and given a personal scenario and I remember leaning forward and saying to him:
You have to have a big enough WHY.
They all started to look at each other, they smiled at each other. I thought… what did I say? Did I accidentally swear (again???). Turns out, they were just discussing WHY. One asked me if I had ever read the book Start with why. To myself I thought…. um no….. I got the concept of why from Rich Straus, he’s a triathlon coach guy.
They talked to me about the book. The strategies. They sent me the link and when I got home I took a look. This guy stole my business model!!! No, this guy pulled together the exact way I run my business.
I do this….. because I 110% love it. That’s my why. I love working with athletes. I love working with their lives. I love when they tell me they can’t because I can show them they can. I love to experience their journey from when training feels impossible to when they cross the finish line of the biggest day of their lives (whether it be Ironman, a 5K, a weight loss goal). I do it because I know the end of the story, if they just trust me and work the plan. I do it because I believe in people.
The how is like everyone else does it. Through structured training and field testing all that jazz. The what is the athlete who hits their goal.
Your why……. has to be big enough to get your ass out of bed at early o’clock in the morning, or get you to go to sleep at early o’clock in the evening. Your why has to be big enough that you sign up for something like an insane 50K trail race (please consult your doctor and your spouse first….) in the mountains of Alabama. Donna did it because she loves a new challenge. She’s hungry for something off the beaten path, and at the same time this was so big that it scared the sh*t out of her enough to motivate her to train her damn ass off.
I do it because I love to be an athlete. I love this sport. I love being out in the middle of nowhere and find that place within myself I can’t find anywhere. I love to feel like a fighter pilot on my bike. I love to swim with sharks. I do it because my best is still out there and I am willing to do what I need to do to uncover it.
Look at the athlete whose ultimate goal is to be famous for doing the Ironman. Look at the model from the outside in.
Their what= They want to be known for winning.
Their how= They train a lot.
Their why= They want to be known for winning. They want to win.
And then they wonder why sponsors look past them, they wonder why they don’t become that star. They wonder why people don’t give them a second thought. They have not identified their why.
Being known for winning isn’t a why. It’s a narcissistic person wanting fame because they believe if they have fame, then they will have everything. Which in the end shows that they really….. have nothing. This is a product no one will buy. This is dell creating an Mp3 player as opposed to apple. If you watch the video you learn exactly why that whole thing happened the way it did.
Your why are your values, your passion, what drives you. Who you are inside of you. Why are you doing this? What sustains you at your very core. Let me give you a hint….. it has zero to do with winning. Or being famous.
When I began this coaching thing I came up with a plan. I read all the books about how to create a business plan. Then i talked to my Dad. He owns this company. His advice to me in the very beginning: know why you are doing this….. and the rest will fall into place.
I sat there last evening…. past my 9pm bedtime, which under no circumstance do I normally break….. and I watched that video 3 times. He spoke about what I have been living and I didn’t even know it. He took everything I have felt as an athlete and as a small business owner and he put it into a simple small diagram.
And I believe with confirmation ….. with all my heart that I am doing what I am doing both as an athlete and a coach for all of the right reasons. I have felt and been told that I have been doing it backwards all these years.
So this morning as Donna makes her way through the mountains of Alabama where it’s about 40 degrees, I will have no updated splits, not live finish line video. There are only 350 athletes in this event. There are no chips. No covers on magazines if you win, nothing. She’s not doing it for any of those reasons.
She’s doing it to see if she can. She’s doing it because she loves it, and she knows that she will come face to face with a lot of difficult things today. I won’t be on the sidelines cheering. She will come out of this different. In many beautiful ways.
Her why….. is big enough to get her to the finish line today.
So what’s your why? What gets you moving? What gets you going?
I told these guys yesterday that if nothing else they need to exercise like their life depends on it. Because it does. The bottom line of it all, my health is my biggest why. For a long time I didn’t have it and I can’t afford not to have it again. My business will go on, be taken over, or be sold without me. My family needs me. That’s my why. My bottom line why.
Because my life depends on it. and I love it. I love it all the way down to my bones.
What about you?