What fuels your run?

Depiction of Dorando Pietri staggering across ...

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You know, it is pretty easy to be inspired by runners and their stories. There is rarely a runner’s blog that I stumble across or a story I hear that does not engage me, inspire me, and motivate me.

Most recently I came across the blog of Tracey Outlaw called “52.4 Miles in 48 Hours: Running for Parker.” Tracey’s an experienced runner, so there is a polish to his writing about running marathons not found here. The posts he shares and the bits of his life he puts out there are pretty insightful and inspiring, especially when he speaks of his reasons for running. Most recently it was to raise money, awareness and support for a young relative diagnosed with leukemia (hence the name of the blog) by running two marathons back-to-back. The challenge ended in December, but Tracey continues to share.

Tracey’s sharing, and just the way he expresses himself are pretty good reads. They engage and add a richness to his running stories.

His most recent post that hooked me into writing this post was Tracey breaking down his approach to the Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona marathon. In Race Day Plan and Inspiration, Tracey lays out pacing and personal motivation in five-mile increments for the race. I mean, he literally breaks down time and who he is committing each mile to. I think it’s pretty inspired, especially as a guy who finds a lot of my running being dictated by mindset and mood.

So, this has led me down a path of asking what are my motivations as I prepare for another marathon this season? Is there someway I can make it more about harnessing all this training, nerves, punishment and joy towards benefiting someone else, or another organization. In turn of course, I’ll benefit from a better peace of being, and hopefully a bit more determination when it comes to race day. At 35 I know I am a purpose driven guy. I must have one. I’m looking for another one beyond just saying I did better this time than I did the last. So, my thoughts on this percolate.

I would also ask anyone to respond with insights into why you run? What motivates you? Can you relate to Tracey? Done something similar? What reasons have you had to push yourself through those painful, boring miles of whatever race you were in?


4 thoughts on “What fuels your run?

  1. I once read an article or blog somewhere (years ago so can’t remember), the gal that wrote it was talking about running at the track, and to relieve the boredom she’d hold a pebble in her hand and rub it for each lap, and each lap she’d get a new pebble, and each pebble would stand for someone she knew. So as she would rub the pebble she’d think of that person. So she’d in a way dedicate each lap to that person. I liked this idea somewhat, I sortof thought it was obnoxious to run laps with a pocketful of rocks, I guess it depends how many miles you’re doing 😉 But I know that wasn’t the point 😉 and it was a nice thing that she did. and I always remember that too when I run at the track. I haven’t done that myself, when I run on the track I’m concentrating too hard on the workout to hold pebbles and think of people. But I do think about that article all the time. the concept has stuck with me.

    I started running by running for charities, I raised money for breast cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer, and ran races in honor of important people in my life who’ve passed due to these diseases. I’ve also run for my mom, who is alive and well. There is a local half marathon I like to do every year, and for several years the race fell on my mom’s birthday, or the day before or after it. So (in my mind) I dedicated those races to my mom. I thought about her the whole way, and it helped at the tough parts, and I imagined her there with me.

    • Yes, Kay, I’m not sure I would want to rock with a pocket full of rocks either, but I understand the sentiment. Running ties so many aspects of my life together. I am glad to hear I’m not the only one who seeks out inspiration and dedication in their running. You sound like you may be a more experienced runner than I am. I’ve done one marathon and a couple of half marathons. How long have you been running?

      • Oh, no, I’m not so sure I would actually call myself an experienced runner, not at all! I only started running in 2004. I ran my first race in 2006 and, like most runners say, as soon as you run your first organized race you are hooked! Since I did my first race I’ve done lots of the local running events. Portland has tons of running events all year long, so you can always do something. I do a variety of distances each year: 5K, 10K, 15K, half marathon. I’ve done a bunch every year since 2006.

        Last year I ran my very first full marathon, in October. Running a marathon was something on my bucket list, and definitely on my list of “things I want to do before I turn 40”. And since I’ve done a lot of the other shorter distances, the marathon seemed the obvious next challenge.

        I think the most fun race I ran was one I did for the American Lung Association fund raiser for lung cancer. It was an 8K, sort of a backwards time trial. Everyone was supposed to cross the finish line at 9:00. And you had to tell the race organizers your prediction of your pace, and they started you at the start line at the appropriate time for you to finish exactly at 9. Your motivation for making sure you kept your pace (other than personal accomplishment) was that the finish line was on the other side of the Burnside Bridge, which crosses the Willamette River, our main river that runs down the middle of town. At 9:00am they raised the bridge, and you wanted to make sure you were on the other side before the bridge went up!
        Anyway, I thought that concept of a race time was a ton of fun.
        They also painted white footsteps along the course, each footstep represented 1 person that had died of lung cancer in the state of Oregon that year. As I followed all those footsteps along the course, I couldn’t help but get absorbed by the sheer number of footsteps. they never ended, and you were totally surrounded by them all. It really dug in deep the reason I was there, running atop those painted feet, helping to raise money for research, education, and outreach.

        Have you ever run a charity race? tell me more about your motivations.


  2. i used to be this way. i’ve gotten a LOT more melolw about my running/my goals/my “failures”. it’s no fun to be so uptight about it! it’s not like we are getting paid for this right?yes it is good to have expectations of ourselves and to aim high for goals. but don’t wallow in a ditch over a ‘bad’ race there will always be bad ones! (i say ‘bad’ cause a 1:31 is freakin awesome) hope you can find peace soon! you are an amazing runner jesse.

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