Saturday, March 19, 2011

Motivation...Is There such a Thing?

  In the early 90's, as part of my Master's program at George Washington University, I took a wide variety of classes for topics surrounding change.  One such class covered Change Management from a organizational behavior perspective.  During this class, the professor preached that there is no such thing as motivation, its all about incentives that drive people.  This theory was repeated in recent books such as Super Freakonomics and more.  I see many articles and blogs on what motivates runners to train, finish long races, and more...This premise started making me ask myself the same question,  is motivation what drives my training and races or is it pure incentive?
  I would lean toward incentive...I don't think you can ask the question by itself, but you need to look at specific real life scenarios.  After a night of going out on the town, is it motivation that makes me train the next morning?--NO!  When I sign up for a race, is it motivation that drives me to do so?--NO!  When I'm running my last mile of a long race, is it motivation that drive me to the finish line?--NO!  Lets take each of these questions individually. 
 So, I've eaten a 10oz steak, drank some wine, and indulged in dessert.  I wake up the next morning and my stomach feels like a rock.  Does this motivate me to run?  No.  I have an incentive to run so I can keep my weight down.  Then why do folks sign up for races?  Most races cost an arm and a leg!  So why do it?  Does a race motivate you?  No.  I sign up for races to see if I can beat my PR, see how I compete against others in my age group, and in some cases for the prize.  Is this motivation?  Lets look at one last example, what gets you to the finish line?  In a recent race, in my last mile, I started cramping in my shins and calves.  Very painful, so was it motivation that got me to the finish line?  No.  I ran through the pain because I new if I did I would break my PR.  Is this motivation. No.  It was simply an incentive that I had to break my PR to set the bar higher for the next race.
  I know many believe in the motivation theory, but I just don't believe in it.  To me, regardless of how non-PC this sounds, people generally do things because they get something out of it--shear incentive...These incentives can range from self satisfaction for volunteering to winning the prize. Here are a few links to some books on the topic if your interested: 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Endorphins, Cannabinoids, or Farce?

    I don't know if I can get caught up in all the "Runner's High" theories such as Endorphins and Cannabinoids.  Heck, I can barely spell those words!   Since the 1980's, many believed that Endorphins acted as an internal morphine-like response to pain in your body when running long distances.  In the early 2000's this theory was discredited by a research that determined that the molecules associated to Endorphins were to large to pass through the Brain-barrier.  The latest theories are associated to Cannabinoids, a new neuro-based chemical system composed of molecules known as lipids.  These lipids are small enough to pass through the Brain-barrier and stimulate the body with a similar effect as marijuana.
    I just don't buy it!  I believe when you run, its all psychological.  When you have a good run, you feel good.  When you diet right and lose weight you feel good.  When you meet your goals, you feel good.  When you sweat out all your toxins, you feel good.  When you run, you get in a trance, and you feel good.  But remember, sometimes you feel bad too.  When you run, your foot hurts.  When you run, your back hurts.  When you run, your knee hurts. 
    Its all about the psyche.  When you run, the impacts can vary from person to person.  For me, running usually helps me with thinking through problems, helps me get rid of the stresses of the day, and definitely helps me with losing weight and feeling good about it!  If that's the so-called "Runner's High," then I'm addicted!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


  Recovery periods tend to vary from person to person.  For short races (5K, 5M, 10K, 10M) I generally am able to train the next day.  For 1/2 marathons, I usually take a day off and for distances longer than 13, I take three to four days off.  Usually, recovery for me is more about feeling tired and drained than anything else.  I drink a lot of water and keep my electrolytes up by drinking fruit drinks.  I also stay off my feet as much as possible and keep them elevated.  In addition, I eat within 15 minutes of the race which is probably the most important thing to do.  I learned my lesson after a recent 20 Miler.  I started running two days after the event and my immune system took a major hit.  I came down with an infection and was out a few days.  Best thing to do is take time off and let your body heal from the grind!
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